What do you do if your boss asks you to do something illegal or against your values?

Man in handcuffs holding an alarm clock. Representative of being asked to do something illegal or against his values.

What do you do if your boss asks you to do something illegal or against your values?
Ethical dilemmas can be tough, especially when they involve your boss's instructions. 🤔 But remember, your values are your guiding light!

I experienced this first-hand. I was told that if I didn’t do what was asked, I could lose my job. What choice did I make? Let’s just say, I didn’t give them the opportunity, I made their choice and my decision perfectly clear.

If you are ever faced with this situation, the decision might not be as easy for you as it was for me.

Let me share with you some things I have done to help navigate this tricky situation:
Reflect on your values.

By taking the time to reflect on my values, it allowed me to clarify my values and why they matter to me. The same will happen for you. Knowing your principles and what really drives you will not only help you make your decision, but it will provide a way for you to stay grounded in your decision.
Seek Clarification.

Sometimes, what seems unethical might be a misunderstanding. Especially if what you are asked sounds way out of line. The first thought I had was, “surely I misunderstood”. In this case I did not. I wouldn’t have known though had I not said something. Don’t be afraid to politely, (not defensively), ask your boss for more context and express your concerns respectfully if you did hear correctly.
Propose Alternatives.

I took the weekend to see if there were any other options before making my decision. You see, there would have been nothing wrong with finding an alternative solution that aligned with my values if the desired outcome could have been achieved. Your boss might not have thought about another solution, and they just might appreciate your creative thinking.
Seek Guidance.

After searching my values, I took the matter to my pastor to have them pray with me. You can do the same or if that isn’t you, you can talk to a trusted colleague, mentor, or HR about the situation. They can provide valuable insights and support in making your decision. Just remember though, if they say to do it and it’s illegal, don’t.
Consider the Consequences.

I weighed all of the consequences of my actions and the impact it could have had on my career, both positive and negative. After doing so I chose to not do it. Remember, taking a principled stand is worth it, but be prepared for the outcome. In my case, I built more integrity by taking the stand than being thought of as someone who doesn’t take orders.
Remember, your integrity and values define who you are. Stand by them, communicate with empathy, and seek solutions that align with your principles.

Your name matters and once you have ruined that, what do you have?

Go make a difference in someone’s life today!

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