On of my favorite books in terms of leadership and building teams is "The West Point Way of Leadership" written by Col. Larry R. Donnithorne. It give excellent, detail insight as to how West Point molds leaders, followers and teams. One of the great West Point traditions is to teach cadets "the harder right." Often times when we are faced with decisions, there can be more than one good choice -- but "the harder right" goes deeper to insure it positively affects more people in a more profound way.
It reminds of Coach Don Meyer who talks about coaches (and leaders) that are often faced with deciding between what is best for an individual and what is best for the team. In his mind, and he makes sure his team knows it early on, that decision was made a long time ago. The team will come first -- that's his harder right.
Here is what Col. Donnithorne has to say about it:
Most people agree that leaders should always do the right -- as opposed to the expedient or the pragmatic or the popular -- thing. West Point asks cadets to do this, and then go one step further and reach for what we call "the harder right."
Before a leader makes a decision, she must imagine her range of influence as a circle. "The harder right" is usually the decision that most positively affects the widest possible circle of people. This requires a type of moral math that isn't instinctual -- it must be practiced. Our instincts tell us to do right by those immediately around us -- our friends, family and immediate colleagues.
It takes years -- and considerable devotion -- to do this. It is a continual process and raising one's sights to include more and more.
Indeed, if one has any doubts about a moral decision, here is a step-by-step series of questions that will sharply increase a leader's ability to reach for the harder right:
1. What are the relevant facts of the situation? First, a leader must clearly assess the situation at hand. What is the decision that has to be made? Who and what are involved, and how much is at stake?
2. What are the alternative actions available? Honorable leaders don't make decisions solely on impulse. Even if there's only a moment to ponder, a leader should, as definitively as possible, balance the different choices available.
3. Who will be affected? An honorable leader tries to make the decision that will be most advantageous for the largest number of people.
4. What moral principles are involved? The leader must ask herself if there are any morally debatable aspects to the choice she makes.
5. How would these principles be advanced or violated by each alternative action? A leader thinks through each choice and it's potential results.