Resolving conflicts about right and wrong is child's play. How skilled are you at resolving matters of right versus right?

When conversations deteriorate into disagreements that disintegrate into arguments, the great misperception is that one position must be right and others must be wrong. While right versus wrong issues certainly create opportunities for disagreement, it can be as debilitating and destructive as gossip to mistake a RIGHT versus RIGHT issue for a right versus wrong dilemma. It is imperative to recognize immediately the collision of two “rights”; this recognition enables a leader to intervene, honor all the “rights,” and reorient the group toward the defined “To Be.”

The power of right versus right dilemmas, the four most divisive of which are noted in the PRIME illustration, was first revealed to me by Rushworth Kidder of the Institute for Global Ethics in Rockland, Maine.2 I sought out Dr. Kidder in response to a request by one of our senior clients. The client noticed an increasing incidence of inappropriate, immoral, and, at times, illegal behavior among some personnel. He wanted an external review of his organization's stated values as a way to begin to address the worrisome trends.

Dr. Kidder pointed out that an organization's values are rarely the source of ethical problems. His research showed that, throughout the world, core values ...

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