ForeWord Reviews

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Ethical Intelligence

Five Principles for Untangling Your Toughest Problems at Work and Beyond

Foreword Review — Winter 2012

Ethical transgressions seem to be daily occurrences in business and politics. Scandals that cause resignations, firings, and even lawsuits can frequently be traced back to ethics violations. This may leave many questioning the moral compass of society’s leaders.

If these leaders had read Bruce Weinstein’s excellent book, maybe they would have thought twice about their questionable actions. Ethical Intelligence is a timely work in which the author, who is widely known through media appearances as “The Ethics Guy,” espouses five principles: 1. Do No Harm, 2. Make Things Better, 3. Respect Others, 4. Be Fair, and 5. Be Loving. As simple as these principles sound, writes Weinstein, “it’s easy to forget how important they are and to act instead on impulses that beckon us but that may, in the long run, be more hurtful than helpful.”

In an engaging style, Weinstein discusses his principles in detail, beginning with an introductory “Ethics Quiz.” The “ethically intelligent” responses that he suggests for each of the questions are sure to provoke introspection.

Weinstein then splits the book in half, using one section to address “Ethical Intelligence at Work” and the other to talk about “Ethical Intelligence in Your Personal Life.” In both parts, he includes specific examples of challenges one might face and behaviors one might observe that stretch the boundaries of ethics. In a chapter about working with others, for instance, Weinstein relates an all-too-common story about a boss who becomes involved in a relationship with a subordinate. Other examples apply not just to bosses and subordinates, but to co-workers, clients, and shareholders. Equally relevant examples and outcomes are included relating to families, friends, community, and one’s own self. The author even offers some good advice for “being downsized with ethical intelligence.”

Ethical Intelligence is a book that brings to light modern-day ethical dilemmas that everyone can relate to, both in the workplace and in personal life. More importantly, Ethical Intelligence provides a moral roadmap of sorts so that individuals facing such dilemmas can make decisions that they will feel good about—because they know they are doing the right thing.

Barry Silverstein