Obstacles In Ethical Decision Making

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Obstacles in Ethical Decision Making

Obstacles in Ethical Decision Making


According to a renowned Ethicist, Rushworth Kidder:

”As we practice resolving the dilemmas we find ethics to be less a goal than a pathway, less a destination than a trip, less an inoculation than a process (Johnson, 2011)."

In the light of this quote, one can easily identify the importance ethical decision making holds for a credible leadership. Realizing the effect which a leader's decision will leave on the followers is the critical determinant of making choices that are not in favor of one single entity; rather, the decision must benefit everyone on the whole. Although, people making unethical decision are perceived to be dishonest and are believed to be focusing on only self-interest; however, this is not the case in every situation. Some time, the people involved in decision making oversee the ethical issues, which may arise a result of their decision or planned actions. When it comes to leaders, they are of two types good and bad.

However, unfortunately, the leaders who make decisions which ethical scandals are in greater number; be it medical, politics, business or military, these leaders have sacrificed their reputation and leadership positions for their personal gains. Amongst them, there are some leaders who also faced lawsuits, jail time and criminal charges. Consequently, the cost is paid by their followers in numerous forms ranging from global economic crisis to life threats to individuals around the globe. Practicing ethical leadership does not require any training nor is ethical decision making ever learnt. It comes from within, the instincts which a leader has in terms of moral influence and behavior. However, talking about moral behaviors and influences is a separate debate having its own critical influencing factors. This paper aims to cover the obstacles, which leaders face in ethical decision making process and how these obstacles can be overcome by them (Messick and Bazerman, 1996).


Since concerns related to ethical decision making have been discussed superficially in the introduction, this portion of the paper will deal with in-depth analysis of the obstacles faced by leaders in ethical decision making along with ways for overcoming these obstacles.

Obstacles in Ethical Decision Making

There are numerous obstacles, which create hindrances making an ethical decision making, a few of which are as follows:

Lack of Perspective (Solipsism)

There are instances in which leaders face solipsism or limited perspective, which in turn inhibits them to make an ethical decision making and acting in a way that is ethically responsible. Solipsism refers to a self-centered perspective about everything. This phenomenon leads to situations where leaders fail to understand, analyze and evaluate all the possible solutions available, the possibility that their individual decision may have a far ranging effect.

Lack of Compassion (Self-Interest)

Situations where leaders make decisions by analyzing things in a way that is related to only him/her also create hindrances in ethical decision making. This is different from self perspective to the degree to which self-interest affects the decision making ...
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