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important component in defining ethics is moral courage. There are other
important components such as stewardship, empathy,
compassion and integrity as these components are important as they keep leaders
connected to the reality of humanity. Organizations are run by people whose
humanity is informed by values which are influenced by multiple variables. The dynamics
of people’s opposing values create conflict, tension and dilemmas in an
organizational culture. The title of this course suggests there are moments in
leadership where dilemmas will present themselves. Dilemmas are not the
decisions between right and wrong as doing the right thing is always the right
thing to do. Dilemmas are the difficult decisions between two or more right
choices. Making these tough decisions often in juxtaposition or in opposition
to the majority requires moral courage. Kolodinsky (2012) suggests that moral
courage is all too rare. Organizations need leaders who will in moments of
challenge and controversy be emboldened to take courageous moral action. Moral
courage is invaluable as leader’s influence on followers moral psyche and the
overall work environment effects organizational growth and development,
organizational reputation and outcomes. The eschatological implications and
ramifications are far more detrimental.
R. W. (2012). Review of moral courage in organizations: Doing the right thing
at work. Journal of Business Ethics, 107(4), 547-550.
Who decides what is acting in “a wrong manner”? What precisely are suggesting
that literature asserts are the components of the ethics definition?
Codes of ethics serve as a guiding light
and as a unifying set of principles which explicitly articulate the core values
and beliefs of an organization’s ethos. Codes of ethics are critically
instrumental in defining organizational culture. Employees of any organization
arrive to the work environment bearing in mind or bringing personal belief
systems often influenced by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, creed,
national origin and religion, i.e. employees come to work haven walked
different paths in life. Without codes of ethics instituting a sense of
synergy, employees are likely to operate under the principles which guide them
as individuals. Organizations do not exist for themselves. Organizations are in
the business of engaging people. Community and public engagement comes with a
price. Depending on the community the price can be high. Within civilized
societies, there are laws which mandate civil behavior and there are religious
belief systems which inform moral or spiritual behavior but public scrutiny,
demands ethical behavior (Kidder, 2004).
Kidder, R. M. (2004). Foundation codes of
ethics: Why do they matter, what are they, and how are they relevant to
philanthropy? New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising, 2004(45),
You are making my overarching claim for
this course–structures precede outcomes.
What do you suppose I mean by that assertion?
Based on the discussion and readings, what
was the single most important thing you learned this week? Why is it important?
How can you synthesize this into practice?
The purpose of this course is not to
teach ethics, nor is it to instill an ethical framework in a student lacking
one. Instead, the intent is to provide thought-provoking materials for
consideration combined with an increasing understanding of self. The practical
advice of “don’t do it, you will get caught”has probablybeen
mentioned previously. However, while this advice may seem prudent, using it as
a guide for actions may be shallow and insincere. Having an increased
understanding of how ethics develop, how decisions might be made, and how those
decisions might look to others from a different culture can help future leaders
consider potential unintended consequences of their decisions.
Before discussing or studying any aspect
of ethical leadership, it will be useful to understand the key aspects of
self-awareness. Great leaders are self-aware and understand how to work
effectively with other individuals, teams, and groups.
As Whetten and Cameron (2007) observe,
self-awareness is more than just thinking about oneself; it is the foundation
of self-management and leadership. What is more important is that leaders know
and see themselves as others know and see them. Psychological and psychiatric
literature discusses the link between self-perception and the treatment and
relationship individuals demonstrate to others. According to the research
literature, self-awareness is important for career success. However, the
paradox of self-awareness is that, as individuals, it is difficult to become self-aware
without information from external sources. One approach is to take any of a
variety of tests and share the findings with close friends who are willing and
allowed to provide an honest assessment of the assessment results and the
traits and shortcomings they observe in the individual who completed the
Cognitive style, the first of the four
elements of self-awareness, refers to the way information is gathered and
evaluated. It is not about intelligence, but rather about how the brain is
wired internally. Approximately 80% of people unconsciously develop preferred
information-processing strategies (Whetten & Cameron, 2007). These
information-processing strategies form the foundation for personality, which,
in turn, influences how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Effective managers
and leaders understand their personal information processing strategies and the
effect these strategies have on their behavior.
Change and Control
The second element of self-awareness has
to do with change and control of change. In this globally connected
environment, there is increasing complexity, turbulence, and information, as
well as an explosion of new technology. These transformations create additional
changes for leaders. As a result, leaders need to understand tolerance of
ambiguity and locus of control. These two dimensions describe an individual’s
orientation or attitude toward change.
Tolerance of ambiguity measures the
extent to which individuals are threatened by or have difficulty coping with
situations in which the best course of action to take is not clear or the
situation is changing rapidly (and possibly unpredictably) or in which there is
a high degree of complexity in the information. Tolerance for ambiguity
measures a person’s cognitive complexity. There are both positive and negatives
to having a high tolerance for ambiguity. Among the positives are heightened
attentiveness to information and the interpretation of cues, improved
transmission of information, increased sensitivity to the internal
characteristics of other people, decreased risk-taking, and amplified desire
for less structured occupations. Among the negatives are the notions of being
easily distracted by interruptions, having a lesser ability to concentrate, and
having difficulty focusing on a single important element.
The locus of control is one of the most
studied aspects of how people deal with change (Whetten & Cameron, 2007).
Locus of control is a window into the attitudes that individuals develop
regarding control of their own destiny.
The third element of self-awareness
involves an individual’s orientation toward other people. It is different from
all other elements of self-awareness because it relates to the leader’s
behavior and relationships with others and not just himself/herself. This is an
important component of self-awareness because leadership and management are
overwhelmingly interpersonal. In general, interpersonal considerations examine
the needs for inclusion, control, and affection.
Values and ethics are the fourth of the
four core aspects of self-concept and self-awareness and are the standard and
rules at the core of the dynamics of behavior as well as the focus for this
course. Values are among the most stable and enduring characteristics of
individuals, playing a central role in the overall psychological make-up of a
person and influencing life directions, personal tastes, and preferences.
Similar to individuals, organizations
have values, which are sometimes referred to as the corporate culture. Research
shows that employees who hold values congruent with the organization in which
they work are more productive and satisfied, while the absence of such
congruence can lead to frustration, non-productivity, and absenteeism. People
do not always know which values are most important to them. Typically, unless
forced to encounter a threat or contradiction to one’s values, people seldom
assess or clarify them. Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of values
because they affect decisions about joining an organization, commitment to the
organization, relationship to co-workers, and leaving or staying within the
Values affect a manager’s perceptions of
situations or problems. Ambitious leaders, for example, may see a problem as an
obstacle to success whereas a supportive leader may see it as a way to help a
subordinate grow and learn. This is particularly important in potentially toxic
leadership situations. Values can affect the decisions reached or the solutions
that may be generated (e.g., politically correct decisions can result from not
being courageous or not understanding your values). Values can affect
interpersonal relationships (e.g., leaders who value self-control may have
great difficulty with a demonstrative individual). Values can affect the
perception of individual success versus organizational gains. Values provide a
basis for differentiating “right and wrong” and ethical versus
unethical behavior. Values affect the extent to which leaders accept or reject
organizational pressures and goals. Finally, people with strong value systems
tend to behave more ethically. However, certain kinds of situations increase
the likelihood of unethical behavior regardless of the value system.
Manifestations of unethical behavior include highly competitive and
unsupervised environments, deliberate absence of a formal organizational ethics
policy governing behavior, no threat of punishment, the rewarding of unethical
behavior, and decreased levels of moral reasoning in group decisions about
Knowledge of oneself in the form of
self-awareness, self-insight, and self-understanding is essential to one’s
productive personal and interpersonal functioning and in understanding and
empathizing with others. In learning about leaders, followers, and environments
conducive to both good and toxic outcomes, it will be useful to keep in mind
the four elements of self-awareness and their role in forming the foundation of
differences in leaders, followers, and organizational settings.
D., & Cameron, K. (2007).Developing
management skills(7th ed.).
Upper Saddle River: NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall.