One of the junior officers I mentor contacted me recently to get help with bringing an ethics issue to her commanding officer's attention. She was overcome with a sense of trepidation in bringing the situation to her CO. We talked the issue through and she is intent on going forward. It's a real tough call on her part and it is a risky move. Her FITREP is due in October for LCDR and the CO is most certainly not going to forget this discussion. Yeow !
Here are some tips from Harvard Business Publishing: (Many other leadership tips are available on the Navy's Executive Learning Officer website intended for Flag Officers - but available to all who want to learn.)
Here are three tips (with some minor paraphrasing to Navy lingo) for raising an ethical issue in a non-combative and productive way:
1. Treat the conflict as a Navy leadership issue. Present the issue as you would any other Navy issue: provide sufficient detail, tailor your message to the audience, and deliver it in an appropriate context.
2. Recognize that it's part of your job. Ethical issues may feel like a distraction from "real" work, but identifying, thinking through, and acting on them are part of everyone's job.
3. Be yourself. Don't assume that you have to be confrontational, assertive, or courageous to bring up an ethical issue. The best approach is to be yourself and use a style you are comfortable with.