Customer Reviews: Ethics 101: What Every Leader Needs To Know (101 Series)
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on July 28, 2005

This book (whose original title was "There's No Such Thing as `Business' Ethics") by leadership expert John C. Maxwell is an easy-to-read, small book that states that ethics is not complicated. Maxwell explains:

"Ethics is ethics. If you desire to be ethical, you live by one standard across the board...Educators, philosophers, theologians, and lawyers have taken what is a simple matter and made it very confusing...This book's goal is to help you find the way to live and work ethically and also achieve greater success."

The one "standard" Maxwell recommends using in all situations is the Golden Rule: the precept that one should behave toward others as one would want others to behave toward oneself.

Maxwell does a good job in explaining why the Golden Rule is the standard to be used in all situations. However, the only situation he uses in his numerous, true, effective example stories is the type (RIGHT versus WRONG). For example, a cashier gives you too much change. The WRONG thing to do is to keep the extra change. The RIGHT thing to do is thus to give the extra change back.

The author gives many quotations from prominent people to get his points across. One of my favorites is a quotation from Ted Koppel:

"There's harmony and inner peace to be found in following a moral compass [he's referring to the Golden Rule] that points in the same direction regardless of fashion or trend."

Maxwell touches on the fact that all people are not the same and that the rule may have to be slightly altered to accommodate them.

A feature of this book is that certain important summary points are taken out of the main narrative and bordered between two horizontal lines for easy reference. I counted almost forty of these peppered throughout the book. Here are two examples:

(1) "There are really two important points when it comes to ethics. The first is a standard to follow. The second is the will to follow it."

(2) "Every day, whenever the issue of ethical behavior confronts you, ask this question: `How would I like to be treated in this situation?'"

As mentioned, Maxwell effectively explains the use of the Golden Rule in (RIGHT versus WRONG) situations. However, he does not explain how to use the rule in (RIGHT versus RIGHT) situations. This is called the ethical dilemma. To be fair, Maxwell does mention the ethical dilemma but his explanation of it is rather simplistic.

Here is an example of a dilemma. You are asked in your high-paying job to do something you feel is not right or else be fired. (It took years of hard work to get the high pay you're now getting.) The RIGHT thing to do according to the golden rule is to quit your job and get another lower paying one. However, there are ill members of your family who depend on your high income. So the RIGHT thing to do is not to quit your job. Maxwell spends no time in explaining such situations.

Despite not explaining how to handle dilemma situations, I still feel that this is a useful book that takes the technical jargon out of understanding ethics. Maxwell gives numerous true cases that prove how the Golden Rule builds morale, increases productivity, encourages teamwork, lowers employee turnover, and keeps clients coming back.

In conclusion, this is an effective book that explains some major ethical concepts. It demonstrates how doing the right thing is the best way to live and fosters a winning situation for all!!

(first published 2003; acknowledgements; preface; 7 chapters; conclusion; main narrative 105 pages; notes)

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Author John C. Maxwell has spent years thinking about leadership and ethical action, and it shows. In this short volume, he condenses his years of reflection into clear, accessible principles that any reader can immediately apply. He supports his points with anecdotes, and with quotes from sacred texts and authors from a variety of cultures. His clarity makes his work bold. There's no way you could mistake what he's saying, and that's refreshing, especially given contemporary concerns about corporate governance. While the simplicity and brevity of the book makes it broadly accessible, we especially recommend it to two readerships: those already dedicated to living ethically, who are looking for tools to apply, and those who are skeptical about the utility of ethics. The book (which was previously published as "There's No Such Thing as Business Ethics") has only two real weaknesses. The first is that Maxwell's definition of an ethical dilemma is far too simple, and he treats it too briefly. (What do we do when love and duty clash? What do we do when directly ordered to do something unethical by a superior, who thinks the action is correct - and someone else depends upon our income?) The second is that Maxwell discusses how to treat others as if we were all the same deep down. Perhaps we are - but he doesn't fully address the many personal and cultural differences that one must negotiate along the way. Our moral dilemma: is it right to dwell on such relatively minor flaws in a book we basically respect, agree with, appreciate and recommend warmly? You be the judge.
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on February 16, 2007
John C. Maxwell, a minister, management consultant, and prolific author of inspirational and insightful business related books, believes that ethical principles can be summarized by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. He documents that this rule, or some close variation of it, is found in all of the world's major religious traditions.

This is not the book that offers guides to how the definition of ethics can vary from one legal code to another. It is rather a book that offers guides on how to live one's life and do one's job with longterm success.

"If you want to do something that will make an impact beyond your own life," Maxwell writes in summary, "then treat people better than they treat you, walk the extra mile, help people who cannot help you, do right when it's natural to do wrong, and keep your promises even when it hurts."

He divides the world into people who "go for the gold" and people who "go for the golden rule" and finds the latter are much more successful in ways that really matter than the former.

This book is an excellent supplement and response to much narrower attempts by lawyers, college professors, numerous professional groups, state government ethics commissions, good government advocates and others to treat ethics as a legal code which one needs legal advice to interpret, honor, or defend oneself from.

Ethics, Maxwell says, is not a complex issue. Ethics is about living a life worthy of self-respect, and the respect of family members, colleagues, and competitors.
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on June 2, 2016
This book is a very easy-to-follow guide of the best practices of leadershp and treating others by using one of the most basic principles that we all (at least most) grow up with: treating others as you would like to be treated or "The Golden Rule".

While this book and its principles and lessons are more geared towards business leaders and those who work in the corporate work-force, this has real, tangible and effective lessons that can be translated into any place where one may be called to lead (retail, food service, government, military, etc.) Leadership and behaving ethically with a solid moral compass are universal lessons.

Simple and well organized, the author separates key points into bullet format and smaller paragraphs that really drive the points of his message home. While not every book on leadership can be read by leaders, this one should be, there's no reason not to at just 100 pages. The use of short stories from the Author's background as well as well-known people also help to give some perspective and insight into what he's trying to say.

I enjoyed this book and found that it has a lot of lessons that can be taken away and used in the real-world such as keeping promises, taking the hard right over the easy wrong, building a strong team, developing a commitment to integrity and honesty, etc. Definitely worth the read and the small price, the return on ethics teaching is ten-fold.
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on May 10, 2014
John C. Maxwell went above and beyond in defining and defending the code of ethics in his book, Ethics 101. The main focus of the text was on using the “standard” of the Golden Rule in all situations. A few of the noteworthy topics he mentioned included the numerous examples of right and wrong, and having the courage to take the right action in any situation. He also stated in his book that there are two types of people, ones that “go for the gold” and ones that “go for the golden rule.” He provides stories and examples to back up the fact that the latter of these two types are often more successful in what really matters.

He takes what many people have learned as a complex idea of “ethics” and simplifies it so there is less room in misunderstanding his text. Ethics is living a life that is worthy of not only self-respect, but respect of everyone around you. There is so much to gain from this book both on an individual level, and a professional level, that it brings up the question; how was Maxwell able to pack such an abundance of insight and useful knowledge into so few pages? Ethics 101 could be beneficial to anyone, but highly recommended for those in the corporate business world.
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on February 11, 2013
The book was purchased for my Kindle Fire HD. I wish all text books came on the Kindle. It is so much easier to take notes and review the info without damaging a book and worrying about its resale value.
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on April 27, 2014
Ethics 101 by John C. Maxwell is a book that anybody could benefit from reading. The book has many examples of how following the Golden Rule in life, as well as in business leads to greater, longer lasting success.

The book tells how the treatment of others in the business world directly affects your own personal success. It shows how when you commit to being an ethical leader you build trust and respect with not only the people that work for and with you but also the public. There are many examples of how many people have gone after the all mighty dollar and sacrificed everything for it only to lose it all in the end.

After reading the book I learned that many of the most successful people are the ones who act the most ethically. The ones who cut corners and treat others unfairly tend to only have limited or short term success. The book does a good job of showing examples of ethical behavior and what can result from it. There are several stories of how acting ethically has resulted in success for not only the person in charge, but also for the people working around them.

I think the book could have gone into better detail when talking about some of the people who act unethically. For the most part it tells the end result and does not tell a lot about what they did to achieve their short-term success. Also, the book did not go into much detail about knowing how others actually want to be treated. Treating others the way you want to be treated may not work in every situation. How do you exactly know what others want from you or your business?

I would recommend this book for anyone, not just for someone entering the business world. I believe that a lot can be learned from this book, not only for your approach on conducting business but also on your approach to life. It was insightful and would help guide you to figure out what kind of person, whether in your personal or professional life, you want to be.
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on August 19, 2013
I purchased this book as part of a college course. It is now a well read top shelf selection of my library at work. Many co-workers have found it an interesting read and liked it. It's an easy to read and a thought provoking book.
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on February 11, 2015
A though-provoking, practical look at the much needed subject of ethics in our society. Maxwell takes a simplistic approach(which I love) to ethical decision making by providing a one question framework through which to filter all your future decision making.
Highly recommend everyone give it a read, especially anyone in leadership.
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on March 7, 2011
I got this book for a VERY good price, and although used it was in great condition. A few pencil markings on the inside, but nothing too distracting. Many of them actually helped me pull out key points for my class! Overall, I'm very satisfied with my purchase.
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