Ten Ethical Principles for Leadership and Collaboration

Ethics are our internal navigation system for a life full of peace and progress. As a leader, I realized that especially in the competitive business environment, ethics are often lost in the interest of speed and profit. However, this caused the individual team members to suffer and, consequently, the progress of the collective team or organization suffered as well. Ethics were missing from our education. We did not have a common language or understanding for what respectful communications and interactions were in practice. We did not have a navigation system for practicing ethics toward ourselves and others.

While striving to cultivate a more mindful lifestyle and build practices for collaboration with my team, I discovered an ancient system that offered a universal system of ethics. The principles prompted me to see progress through a new lens, and I realized they could be adapted and applied to the ethical challenges I faced at work. I began to apply these principles at work and in my own life and soon found that my team was more efficient and enthusiastic. My life became less stressful, I could navigate decisions with confidence, and I found new opportunities for progress.

The Awake Ethics system is composed of ten principles that help leaders cultivate both peace and progress. A framework of principles enables alignment, focus, and clear communication. These ten ethical principles are universal and powerful for making human-centered progress and cultivating relationships of trust. They aid in human-centered decision making. They cultivate peace and progress. Here are the ten principles of the Awake Ethics system.


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1. Truthfulness is honest, transparent communication. Truthfulness enables team alignment and authentic collaboration. Trust is built through truthfulness over time.


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2. Non-Stealing does not merely concern stealing material things from our co-workers. An important ethical practice for leaders is to not steal experiences and acknowledgment from others. By giving knowledge, feedback, fair acknowledgment, and relevant experiences to our team members, we lift them up to reach their highest potential.

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3. Control of Energy means using your energy in a way that is most beneficial for yourself, for the team, and for others in order to cultivate focus. Ideas, distractions, and drama arise that we must constantly address and help to reign in the focus of our team members. Physical, mental, and emotional control is a sign of an advanced, Awake leader.


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4. Non-Attachment is a challenging principle because it involves letting go of ways and beliefs that no longer serve us. It involves accepting and embracing change in order to make progress.


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5. Purity is the first of the five ethical practices for personal conduct. Practicing Purity simply means that you maintain a clean workspace, a carefully cultivated work environment, a clear and focused mind, and time management practices that allow you to do your best work.


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6. When we practice Contentment, we slow down, zoom out, and have gratitude for our wins and learnings. Contentment comes into the picture when we’re able and willing to pause, practice gratitude, and positively acknowledge our achievements and wisdom. We enjoy more consistent progress and wellness.


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7. Discipline is ethical because it is how we transform toward our highest potential. Challenge and struggle can serve as our wisest teachers. To practice Discipline is to keep the inner fire of curiosity, motivation, and action going in order to show up each day and follow through with projects you’ve started.


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8. Self-Study is the practice of studying our strengths, our behaviors, our mindset, and our preferences. By spending time reflecting and understanding these aspects of ourselves, we become more confident and move forward. Whether you’re working to discover what you excel at, what you want to do, or you’re working to develop more confidence, Self-Study is the practice that will get you there.


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9. Surrender suggests that we let go of aspects that we often stress over and relentlessly try to control, to give us more freedom to focus on the areas that we can control and are truly responsible for. There are always unknowns and unexpected phenomena that arise. Life often offers new possibility and gifts to us that we could not plan for.


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10. Doing More Good than Harm is challenging in the complex, modern business environment. When we maximize the good that we do, we work toward our highest potential. Ask: What decision or action would maximize the good for all involved, at the individual and collective level? It sounds simple but it is actually very challenging.


Notice that the first four principles are ethical practices for interactions, which enable peaceful and productive collaboration. Principles five through nine are ethical practices toward ourselves. They are practices of personal conduct that help us reach our highest potential and lead by example. We conclude with the tenth principle: More Good than Harm. This tenth principle is an ethical practice toward ourselves, others, and the world. Though the principles are presented in a specific order in Awake Ethics (because they logically build on each other and take us through a carefully designed progression), they are all interconnected. Focus on the principles that you feel would improve your work and your life. If it sparks your interest and curiosity, it’s most likely to stick in your mind and be readily applicable in your work and life. If you identify a need and an application, it’s more likely to be manifested in practice.


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Use the principles to navigate decisions with confidence, lower your stress, make human-centered progress, and make more genuine connections and relationships built on trust. Which principle(s) would help you cultivate more peace and progress? 

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This article was adapted from the Introduction to the Awake Ethics guidebook. If you’d like to learn more about the ten Awake Ethics principles and how to apply them to your work, life, and team, order the Awake Ethics guidebook.

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Ethics are not practiced because they are not taught. Remember to share this article with others and order the guidebook. Schedule an Awake Ethics workshop for your team or organization this year to cultivate a common language, understanding, and appreciation of ethics.

Thanks for reading!