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Decisions, decisions
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Ladies and gentlemen, here at Paperitalo Publications, you might have heard us discuss the terms, legal, moral and ethical in the past.

To us, those are marching orders we strive to live by, in both our professional and personal lives – and we hope you share the same unbendable qualities, as well.

If you’re a manager, you make decisions that affect your company every day. Some decisions are rather easy to make. Others are not, and sometimes the right decision is not always the easy or popular decision.

So I won’t unnecessarily step on any toes, let me provide a purely hypothetical example that does not involve our great industry.

A teacher at a small, rural high school has a particular student who is falling behind in class and is not completing his coursework. The student is on the varsity basketball team, is a starter, and does a pretty good job of putting the round ball through the round hoop in area small-town gymnasiums.

(If you’re not a hoops fan, you can image that the youngster is a baseball, football, tennis, soccer or cricket player, whatever sport floats your boat … it doesn’t matter one bit to me.)

The teacher is concerned that the student is falling behind and is in danger of failing the class, so the educator pulls the student aside and expresses these concerns and warns that if the student doesn’t pull up his grades, he’ll be ineligible to participate in upcoming sporting events.

The student, apparently unimpressed, nods his head, heads off to practice to work on putting the round ball through the round hoop – and continues to leave the books in the locker at night and the homework unfinished.

At the end of the grading period, the teacher fills out the report cards and lets the school principal know that the athlete who is pretty good at shooting a round ball through a round hoop won’t be able to participate in the games because of poor grades.

The principal backs the instructor 100 percent.

After all, just because a student is starter for the varsity team, and the school gym has been full of fans who hand over admission money and buy popcorn at the concession stand and want to see their alma mater win games, does not give that student or other student-athletes a free pass in the classroom. After all, schools are built in the name of education, right?

The day after the report cards were distributed, the angry father of the student visits the principal demanding an explanation. The principal talks to the peeved parent, and explains that his son was given a chance to pull up his grades and didn’t deliver, so he would not be able to hoop it up due to academic ineligibility.

Furious, the father went over the principal’s head and aired his grievances to the school board and the superintendent, telling anyone who would listen that the school wasn’t being fair to his boy, they were "mistreating" the boy, and that his boy should be retested and should be allowed back on the playing court immediately.

Lo and behold, the superintendent went back to the principal and the instructor and told them that they were to retest the student-athlete.

The youngster went back to dribbling basketballs on the hardwoods, and at the end of the school year, when the superintendent told the principal that the school board had renewed the principal’s contract, the principal politely told the school chief thanks, but no thanks.

After the episode where his decision was ultimately overruled, it made the administrator decide to look for a new position – and he found one as principal at a different school district. The teacher moved on, as well.

The teacher and the principal made the right decision. The superintendent and the school board made the popular decision.

The popular decision may have been the easier one to make at the moment, but what ended up happening in this purely hypothetical tale?

The hypothetical school district had to replace a good principal and a good teacher.

And how about the hypothetical student-athlete?

I would contend he was done a major disservice. If one is taught that they can get away with such a stunt, that there are no consequences to their actions (or lack thereof), that they’ll get chance after chance after chance, how will that affect that individual in the future?

More than one might think.

Decisions have consequences, and popular decisions aren’t always the best decisions. Often, they aren’t.

But if you strive to possess the three unbendable qualities – legal, moral and ethical – it will make the process that much easier.

Steve Roush is Vice President, Content Channels and in charge of the International Desk at Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at steve.roush@taii.com.
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