Tag Archives: best practices

Squeezed: Ethics in Middle Managementland?

Trippin’ like Lewis Carroll, or could even you see it on this side of the looking glass?  — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — Myth or reality? Conscientious and ethical middle management? Stuck in the Middle



Dear Stuck in the Middle,

I’ve not seen anything contrary in my experience, but top-down thoughts > choices > actions. Ethics are top-down. In a company with questionable (let’s call them) ethics, being a sometimes less-than-powerful middle manager often adds the pressures of ambition to excel on the career track. I tried to, but found I couldn’t answer your question without editorializing — here’s some more: if you find yourself working in a firm whose ethics (often easily spotted identified in its average lowest/smallest client treatment practices) frequently don’t jibe with your own (maybe you dread going to work, or feel sick or unduly tired when you come home. Check in with your own Body Wisdom), I would seriously consider looking for a new place to be a middle manager.

So in a nutshell: “Conscientious and ethical middle management?” not always but absolutely, and if your firm and you are in alignment that possibility is all the clearer.

Middle up,



Dear Stuck in the Middle,

The real question is whether people at any level of management, especially the higher echelons, can act with respect for fellow man, righteous perspective and yes, conscience. For those in middle management often have little recourse to follow the guidance of their conscience when those above have different priorities.

As a middle manager, I suggest getting very clear with yourself about what you believe. Be clear with yourself about where your moral compass points so that you know what you will and will not do to get ahead. Realize also, that although great, loud moral stands work great in the movies, they are far less effective in real life. If you find yourself asked to do something that dips below the line of your conscience barometer, do not make a scene. Find a way to offer the goal through less nefarious means. Of course, chances are no one will ever point blank ask you to break the law. It will be shrouded in concern for the company or the bottom line.

Conscience comes with every soul. Whether we choose to listen or not is up to each of us. The myth is that business cannot be moral and survive, much less make a profit. The reality is love of capitalism has over shadowed love of fellow worker, fellow man and the environment we need to live and grow. Each of us in these days must find our own way of acting in an upstanding fashion so others can see it modeled.

Good luck,




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