What To Do When Your CEO Acts Unethically

There may be some things that don’t make you feel good about where you work right now.  

You may have seen things that are questionable in terms of ethics. 

You’ve tried to say something about it, but it’s fallen on deaf ears.  

Now you’re feeling that you may be complicit in bad behavior.  

You’re not sure what to do.  

We’ve all been in organizations where leadership has made a decision that we don’t agree with.  

They’ve done something that doesn’t seem to be ethical. 

Maybe it’s not in the best interest of the patient or the employees. 

It can get a little disconcerting.  

And your team will sense this.  

It’ll ripple through your culture and create a toxic environment. 

You won’t feel good about it.  

You won’t stay motivated.  

You won’t stay engaged.  

You’ll have all kinds of problems if you don’t address issues around ethics. 

It may only be one leader who made a decision that is going to have a long-lasting impact on what people think about the organization.  

You’ve got to step up and do something about it.  

Here is what you can do: 

Confront the situation.  

I’m not saying go in and flip over tables and start yelling at people.  

But you do need to confront the situation.  

Have a conversation.  

That conversation should lead with the words, “Help me understand.”  

You want to ask for clarity, help understanding why a decision was made. 

“Why do we go to this nursing model” or “Why didn’t we reapply for magnet status?” 

There may be logical reasons that a decision was made, that you just don’t understand.  

Before you go in accusing people, you want to try to get a better understanding.  

If you still don’t have a satisfactory answer about your concern, focus on these words:  control, influence and lead.  

Sometimes things happen that you feel are not right, and you don’t have the ability to change it. 

You’ve got to get into the mindset to control what you can control.  

If someone in another area made an ethical decision that reflects badly on your brand, you’ve got to make sure that it doesn’t creep over into your area.  

Control the processes that you can control.  

Do it the way you think is full of integrity and making a difference for the people that you serve.  

If you can’t control it, try to influence it.  

Influence it by building relationships and serving other leaders. 

Get them to see things your way.  

Exercise influence.  

If you can’t control it or influence it, you’ve got to lead.  

Be the change that you want to see in the world.  

Be the example that you want to see.  

You won’t be able to control every bad decision.  

The ones that you can’t control, you’ve got to try to influence.  

And if you can’t influence it, then you’ve got to be the leader that people want you to be.  

That’s the best approach for you to deal with leadership who make decisions that appear to be unethical. 


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