Ethical Sides of Decision Making

Time and again, I have listened to people say "if you want to enjoy your life, earn a good salary but if you love your children, start a business”. The decisions we make in life depends on the angle from which we view issues and perspectives. Earning a good salary is good, owning a business is also good. However, the risks associated with each needs to be assessed while a capability assessment is required to know which is right for one. Whatever the path we decide to take, our decision-making skills remain the deciding factor. This article focuses on the life of an entrepreneur who, despite the odds accomplished his goal.


Earlier in the day, I was working on a systems audit analysis and I needed to refill my cup of tea to get the mood going. I had Earl Klugh filling the room with jazz music track after track, giving me the inspiration, I needed to get my job done. I rarely shift my attention to something else when I am in such a work mode but the sight of my tv screen got my attention. I saw a movie which had just begun with the screening of the characters. The title of the movie was “A Most Violent Year” directed by JC. Chandon with Oscar Isaac taking the lead role. I saw the movie in 2016 but I didn’t pay attention at the time. This time, the juice is mine. 


I read the synopsis and It gave me an assurance that every minute spent on the movie would be worth it. Being a fan of Hollywood movies, I have learnt valuable lessons from movies that have inspired and guided me in my daily life and business. one of the movies is “The Last Knight” which featured Morgan Freeman, Clive Owen and Kazuaki Kiriya. The story beamed the light on the virtues a nation stands for and the collective teamwork of the people. 


I decided to take a break from the task and focus on the movie. The movie highlighted the life of an entrepreneur who built his heating oil business in New York City in 1981, a time of rampant corruption, violent competition and dishonesty. A strategic thinker who wants to take his business to the next level met the most restrictive force from government, competitors and local gangsters. Competitors conspired to phase him out of business, gangsters were always hijacking his trucks, stealing from him and selling the content to competitors at reduced rates and the government was always slamming his company with lawsuits. 

Despite the corrupt forces against him, he was determined to survive and grow his business. He never thought of joining them, or take reprisal actions, instead he looked for a way out. 


“If you can’t beat them, don’t join them. Find a way out”. 


Faced with series of ethical uncertainties, he became the rallying point for his employees who have been attacked and beaten by gangsters. When the employees needed a beacon of hope, he rose to the occasion. His decision-making skills influenced his employees to follow his lead and align with his code of conduct. 

An employee, a driver who had just recovered from injuries sustained after the last attack decided to resume and drive his truck with a gun as a defense tool. He shot at potential attackers and was subsequently arrested by the police. He was however relieved of his duties by the entrepreneur. 


“When it’s time to bite, pls do. Do not let emotions get in the way of your decisions”.


Lest I forget, the entrepreneur was married to a hot-headed woman fathered by a Don. She barely has any desire to do the right thing. She believed in getting things done quickly regardless of the method deployed. 


With significant forces from the competitors, government and his wife, one would have thought his ethical principles would be violated but he stood his ground. 

Sticking by the principles that define you require a lot of work. Workplace and social pressures are real and the daily struggles may sometimes want to tilt your allegiance away from your values and principles. 


After spending 130 minutes on entertainment or ethics and compliance case study, I realized that;

everyone has the tendency to push relentlessly to succeed in the face of growing challenges. 

- staying clean in business is a choice 

- for every adversarial move, truth is always the casualty

- integrity does not have a price tag. If you don’t have it, you can’t buy it. 

- you can insist on doing things the RIGHTEST way. However, count the cost. 

- let there be a virtue that defines you. 

- getting the result is important. if you think your adversaries have blocked you from getting the result, it means that you know only one way of getting the result. 

- periodically subjecting oneself to ethical self-assessment to determine your adherence.

- Compliance with industry regulations to save yourself from unnecessary government distractions 


The movie reflects the current issues people face in their various lines of business. The society is demanding for that little shift in value but you have got to put your ethics as the first point of call. Adherence to one’s or company’s ethics is extremely important to the goodwill and overall reputation of the individual or company. 

As a leader, everything you do each day is a major bulletin for the day. Lead well and act right.  

If you have 130minutes to learn something new, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is worth every minute. 


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