What would Atticus Do?

I just read a great blog from Harvard Business Review based on the work of Rafe Esquith, the author of Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire. It’s all about morals.  Morals in Management.  Ring any bells?  HBR has gone to an award-winning 5th grade teacher in Los Angeles for help.

According to the blog, Esquith has “adapted a framework from psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg called the Six Levels of Moral Development. In some ways, Esquith’s formulation is more useful, translated as it has been into something a fifth-grader can relate to. Here’s Esquith’s channeling of Kohlberg:

Level 1: “I don’t want to get in trouble.”
Level 2: “I want a reward”
Level 3: “I want to please someone”
Level 4: “I follow the rules”
Level 5: “I am considerate of other people”
Level 6: “I have a personal code of behavior and I follow it”‘

Sound like anyone you know at work? Where are you usually on the scale?  Where are you in a crisis? According to the Wikipedia article on Kohlberg, most adults stop at level 4 in terms of consistent behaviour.  And the instance of empirical evidence of level 6 was so low, Kohlberg couldn’t prove it existed, but believed it did.

One of the tools Rafe uses in his classroom  for Level 6 is the question, “What would Atticus do?” Atticus Finch is the dad in To Kill A Mockingbird, the readers choice all time best book ever in every poll ever taken.  Atticus always does the right thing, even if it might hurt or will be painful.  If you haven’t read it, read it.

Where are you on the scale?

In your immediate challenges at work, what would Atticus do?

Are you ready to do that?

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