The Difference Between Doing What’s Right vs. Doing What’s Easy

In business, there’s often a thin line between doing what is right and what is easy. This article will guide you on why you should do what is right.

published Sep 13, 2023

As a business owner or entrepreneur, you have to make decisions all the time. These decisions will affect your life, business, and the well-being of those who depend on you. Some choices may be straightforward and spontaneous, while others may require deep thought and planning. Either way, you have to be bold enough to stand firm in your decisions and the results that come with them. One attribute of high-impact leadership is always choosing to do what’s right, not what’s easy. By doing so, you can influence those around you to do the same and strive for the best results.

If you’re prone to choosing the easy way out in every situation, it’s time for a change of heart. By the end of this article, you will clearly understand the difference between doing what is right and doing what’s easy.

What Does Doing What's Right Ahead of What's Easy Mean?

To do what’s right simply means to keep the big picture in mind before acting—and doing so to achieve the best outcomes for everyone involved (and your business). Importantly, doing what’s right might not always be easy, popular, or understood by others. The best leaders stand by their choices even if others are against them, so long as they’re doing so for the right reasons.

On the other hand, doing what’s easy means taking the most convenient route. The easier path may seem faster and satisfy your short-term needs, but it may not always yield long-term rewards. On the contrary, the easy option often comes back to bite you. Still, the choice to do what’s right vs. what’s easy will often leave you conflicted, but in the end, you’ll have to decide.

Why You Should Do What Is Right, Not What’s Easy

If you’re often tempted by the easy way out, keep in mind the following points:

1. The "Right" Thing Isn't Always Popular and Is Often Subjective

There’s a big difference between doing things right and doing the right thing. To do something right, you will do whatever it takes to get the job done, even if it means sacrificing your morals and values. It doesn't matter if you take the easy route or a harder one, provided you get the desired results.

On the other hand, doing the right thing requires you to hold a mirror in one hand and do the work with the other. You must maintain your stance and values at all times. When faced with multiple choices, you make the right ones based on your beliefs, even if the facts and figures say otherwise.

When doing something “right,” you are more concerned about optics and popular opinion. You are a people pleaser and want to be what people would like you to be. For entrepreneurs or public figures, this means paying close attention to the metrics and critics. That way, you can make adjustments to the next product or event. One downside of this approach is that you may do things that go against your values, all to please your customers, stay in the good books of your business partners, or be a friend to your employees. However, if you do what is right, the morals you hold in high esteem will trigger your conscience to rethink those decisions.

Mark Twain gave us this gem: “Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.” As a leader, your choices won’t please everyone, but if you focus on doing what’s right, these choices will ultimately lead to greater success for everyone. In the end, this approach will yield greater respect for your leadership style.

2. The “Easy” Thing Can Create Issues and Mistrust in the Long Run

Doing what's easy has consequences. In today’s fast-paced work environment, taking shortcuts sometimes seems like the best and only option. However, these shortcuts can lead to dead ends while keeping others in the dark, stifling long-term progress. Moreover, some easy decisions may come at the cost of your values and your reputation. With this framing in mind, the easy choice might not be so easy after all. At the same time, uncovering the right choice might not be clear, either.

Let’s consider a company that decides to automate part of its operations at the expense of some of its current employees. Depending on the circumstances, this might be the right call—or it might be the easy way out. How can a leader know the difference?

For starters, a leader must consider the long-term costs and benefits of any given decision. On the one hand, automation might save the company a significant amount. On the other hand, making this change may require laying off dozens (if not hundreds) of people. This isn’t just an ethical dilemma but also a reputational one. Choosing to automate and lay off workers may be what’s best for your bottom line for a time, but it might tarnish your reputation and employer brand, making it difficult to find new talent, retain business partners and shareholders, and so on.

Keep in mind, though, that the default “right” choice isn’t necessarily to shun new technology to keep everyone’s jobs. Consider what could happen to your company if you choose not to automate. You might become less competitive in the marketplace and eventually be forced to lay off workers anyway (or restrict their pay and benefits).

Every business aims to stand the test of time. To do that, you must make tough calls. Hitting the fast-forward button on the decision-making process will only create mistrust and confusion. No one can predict the future, but the right choice is always informed by your values and the information you currently have at your disposal.

3. Doing the ‘Right’ Thing Helps You Build Trust and Loyalty

The decision-making process in business operations is characterized by several meticulous steps that involve planning and approval. All of this is to ensure that every relevant person is fully involved. As a result, the process tends to consume a lot of time. Managers and executives find this tiring and sometimes desire an “easy” way out to subvert the process. By doing so, they tend to sideline their staff and make decisions on their own. This lack of communication is among the biggest mistakes you can make as a leader. Although this option may lead to faster decision-making, a business leader is not meant to be a dictator who imposes their ideas and decisions on subordinates. There should be cooperation whenever possible.

Of course, there may be exceptions where a leader has to make impromptu decisions independently or convince the team to accept their view. In such cases, the business leader must adequately explain why they are making that particular decision. The key here is to over-communicate. Making sure everyone on your team understands why you made the call you made builds trust and loyalty. Best of all, your team will learn to do what is right by watching you and acting accordingly.

4. Embrace Pushback and Debate, Don't Hide From It

As a leader, your choices may not always go well with your employees or C-level execs. People have different values and experiences and may want their voices heard. They mean well for the company, but sometimes, not all ideas or opinions are truly worth your attention (we all feel this way at times).

Nevertheless, you must be open to different opinions. To see far, you need to have many sets of eyes. This is not possible naturally, but cooperatively, it is. You must be open to criticism and willing to debate ideas. In some cases, you might find that your initial choice wasn’t the best one. In other cases, you’ll find new ways to defend your position. Whatever the case, this exercise ultimately yields the right choice. Consensus is ideal, but the best executive decisions are often made after they’ve been bounced off of others.

5. The “Right” Thing Ultimately Leads to Respect, Greater Transparency, and Long-Term Success

Whether it’s brand perception or business growth, careful, consistent effort built on integrity and transparency goes a long way in giving you the best results. Your people need to believe that you’ll always do what’s right, not what’s easy. As mentioned earlier, the best way to show this to your people is to explain the reasoning behind your decisions. Even if your people don’t agree with you, they’ll respect your openness and reciprocate it. This creates a culture of honesty that leads to stronger decision-making at all levels.

Let’s consider one of the most famous examples of a leader doing the right thing rather than the easy thing. You might already know the story. In 2008, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sacrificed significant revenue to retain employees and their benefits and temporarily closed all stores to train employees in the art of espresso making. This decision was costly in the short term, but it shored up the company’s reputation and employer brand, helping it overcome the recession and become the behemoth it is today.

The lesson to take away here is that when you show your people respect, whether by doing right by them or by filling them in on your thought process, good things follow. That’s what doing the right thing is all about.

Do What Is Right vs. What Is Easy: It’s Up to You

We may take the easy route for any number of reasons, including convenience, fear, and ego. Unfortunately, always doing what’s easy often leads to hardship down the line. Doing what’s right requires perseverance, vision, and transparency. At Foreword Companies, we’re here to help you improve your decision-making so that your people and your company thrive into the future.

Schedule a call with us today to learn more about how we improve businesses and help you continue to do what is right.

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