Applied research on ethics and decision making typically emphasizes the effect of personnel as well as organizational forces on ethical decision making. The moral issue together with its intensity might also influence the way an individual tackles ethical dilemmas. The research will use examples from real situations to demonstrate various ethical issues as well as decision making. The findings comprise of significant theoretical literature as well as practicable implications of managerial ethics. The research will find ways of resolving conflicts in an organization and give out all the possible methods that leader can make use of in managing ethical dilemmas. Organizations that fail to realize the importance of ethics in their operations are always faced with loss of business as well as high employee turnover. Ethical theories and literature provides us with an understanding of moral and ethical decision making processes. This applied research is a good reflection of how one can exercise his/her mind and creativity in finding ways of resolving ethical dilemmas. It will be divided into four broad categories: Breath component, ethics in leadership, application component and effective communication.
Ethics refers to the discipline that deals with that, which is considered well or bad in the context of moral obligation and duty. These ethics are essential to people acting in their individual capacities and in the capacities of the organizations they manage. These ethics then become a base for decision making process. Different researchers have held different views regarding the topic of ethics. According to Alvesson and Karreman (2011), the ethical obligation of business executive is to make as much money as they can while operating within the boundaries of law and ethical custom. They argued that only business executives have ethical responsibilities and not businesses. Their view is supported by Duska (1990) who asserts that they are consequential. Duska’s observation is that if corporate freedom is granted in decision making without restrain, it would benefit the majority in the long run. Duska’s view is based on utilitarian theory by Jeremy Bentham (1748 to 1832). This theory suggests that the best action to take is that which maximizes the overall good to the biggest number of people. According to this theory, the quality of an action is considered by determining its outcome. Utilitarian theory, however, has been criticized for campaigning for general rules which in some situations would reduce happiness.
Both theories are of the opinion that when business executives strive to make as much money as they can, all the stakeholders are happy and satisfied. The shareholders will be satisfied as a result of gaining financially from their shares, employees will be happy since profits to be divided between them will be sufficient. Managers of the businesses will benefit from salary increment and complimentary from the business owners. Drucker (2007) emphasizes that there is no separate business ethics that exists and none is required. According to Drucker, personnel ethics possessed by those running businesses are all that is needed to make ethical decisions. Ethics that are essential in an organization are, therefore, those embodied in the managers running the businesses. A separate opinion is held by Drucker (2007) in a different instance where he argues that the utmost goal of business owners in not to cause harm. This opinion is oriented to clarify the fact that organizations have the social responsibilities. Organizations must act in an ethical manner in the environment within which they operate. Their behavior should be in such a way that the common citizens living within the environment deems them ethical. Duska (1990) argues that stakeholders of any business have a moral obligation to expect ethical practices from their businesses. Failure of corporations to be ethical may be counterproductive to the corporations as other players may take the same stand. Counter-productivity can stem from employees who view the corporations they work for as not being ethical towards them. If they are not persuaded that the organization they work for has been ethical in dispatching its responsibilities to them, they may become less motivated thereby reducing their productivity.
Duska (1990) asserts that ethical issues may involve the relationship between a company and its suppers’ good relationship is required to make a lasting and profitable venture with the suppliers. Such ethical issues include keeping promises concerning payments of goods and services owed to the suppliers. Immanuel Kant put forward a theory of ethics known as Deontological ethics theory. The theory asserts that the only ethical thing is a good will. Moreover, a will is only good when the person willing does so because it is his/her duty to do so. According to this theory, an ethical deed cannot be determined by from its consequences as the consequences, good or bad could result when not intended. Moreover, a good consequence could result from a bad motive or a bad consequence from a good motive. This theory is a critic of utilitarian theory that defines ethics based on the consequences of a deed.
Ethical relativism is another theory that has been advanced in decision making. This theory holds that there is nothing that is absolutely right. What is right depends on individuals’ point of view. Subjective relativism awards individuals jurisdiction to determine the moral standards that are good to guide their lives. Convectional relativism on the other hand puts the authority on particular cultures to determine good moral standards that governs its people. According to this theory, an organization can make decisions depending on what it interprets as good practices regardless of how others view it. A critique of this theory is that the society may become chaotic as it has different elements with varied viewpoints yet they live interactively.
Types of ethics
Ethics as describe above gives a deeper insight on morality. It differentiates evil and good, vice and virtue, right and wrong, crime and justice, etc. (Bargiela, 2011). To have a clear understanding of what ethics entail, it’s important to explore types of ethics in the business context. There are several types of ethics such as, normative ethics, descriptive ethics, applied ethics, evolutionary ethics, etc. And they are described below:
Normative ethics is a section of philosophical ethics, which investigates the various questions emerging when people try to reason on the way they are supposed to act in the moral context. Normative ethics differ from meta-ethics in the sense that it examines rightness and wrongness standards. On the other hand, meta-ethics uses detailed meaning of moral language as well as metaphysics concerning moral facts. Similarly, normative ethics distances itself from descriptive ethics. This is because descriptive ethics is concerned with investigations concerning individuals’ moral beliefs. In other words, descriptive ethics for example would concern itself in determining the number of people that believe infidelity is definitely wrong. On the contrary, normative ethics would be concerned on whether it is right for people to hold such beliefs. From this understanding, it’s right to refer to normative ethics as prescriptive and not descriptive.
Normative ethic can be divided into sub-disciplines, i.e., applied ethics and moral theory. However, in the recent past, this boundary has been seen to dissolve due to moral theorists’ interest in applied problems making applied ethics more informed philosophically. Classical theories such as utilitarianism, Kantianism and contractarianism were mainly concerned with coming up with principles that would allow one to find distinction between right and wrong. According to Benson (2009) every action has three things that are of moral interest: the agent, i.e., the subject doing the action; secondly, the action itself and finally the consequences of the action.
Normative ethics has three ethical theories, that is, virtue, deontological and consequentialist. Virtue ethics is concerned with agent’s moral character. According to the theory, people ought to possess some kind of traits e.g., courage, generosity, etc. which must be reflected in their actions. Deontology theory puts its weight on the performed act (Butterfield & Trevin, 2000). According to the theory, actions are either intrinsically good or bad and they ought not to be performed irrespective of their effects. Last, but not least, consequentialist theory stands with the principle that people ought to perform actions, which bring out the best results. Since the end is said to justify the means, the type of action doesn’t matter. What matters as far as ethics is concerned is to make the world the best place to be.
Descriptive ethics is called comparative ethics. It concerns itself with the beliefs of people about morality. It distances itself from normative ethics, which as earlier explained analyses ethical theories of how people ought to act. Moreover, it portrays distinction from meta-ethics, which is concerned with ethical terms/theories and what they refer to. Empirical ethics is, therefore, a form of empirical research looking into attitudes of people both individual and as a group.
Theorists try to find out peoples’ beliefs about thing like value, right and wrong actions, and virtuous characteristics of moral agents. They may also dig deep into investigating peoples’ ethical ideals or actions that the societies condemn in law and politics (Chunyan and Tjosvold, 2011). Since descriptive ethics uses empirical research, it is widely used by scholars in such fields as, psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology and sociology. Information derived from descriptive ethics can in some ways be used in psychological arguments. It is also good to note that value theory can be both normative and descriptive, but it’s more of descriptive. Observations made by descriptive ethics can still be used as argument in moral relativism. It is argued that ethical diversity between individuals and cultures do support the theory, which insinuates that wrong and right aren’t absolute, but relative (Cruz & Pil, 2011).
Meta ethics seeks an understanding of the nature of ethical properties, attitudes, statements and judgments. As portrayed by Farling, Stone and Winston (1999), this has received broad attention from academic philosophers in the recent past. As earlier described, normative ethics is concerned with what one should do, thus adopting some particular ethical evaluations while rejecting others. On the other hand, meta-ethics is concerned with what goodness is and how one could tell something is good or bad, thus trying to understand the true nature of evaluations and ethical properties.
Theorists have it that morality’s metaphysical account is necessary for considerable evaluation of moral theories and for deriving practicable decisions in the moral context. However, others argue that people must impart moral intuition’s ideas onto appropriate action before giving proper account of the exact morality’s metaphysics. According to Gillespie and Weber (1998), meta-ethical problems are of three kinds/questions: the first one asks the meaning of moral judgment and terms, i.e., the meanings of the words right, good, bad, and wrong. The second seeks to understand the nature of various moral judgments, i.e., whether these judgments are universal or relative, of many kinds or just one kind, etc. the third kind finds ways of defending or supporting moral judgments, i.e., the way people can tell if something is wrong or right. The answers given to these questions are related and sometimes an answer given to one question automatically tends to answer another question. A meta-ethical theory as opposed to normative ethical theory doesn’t infer that some choices are worse, better, bad, good or evil. An answer for one of the stated questions can’t be concluded or assumed as a normative ethical statement.
Applied ethics (from a moral standpoint) can be defined as a philosophical examination of specific issues in both private and public life that are matters relating to moral judgment. It is used to describe the efforts to apply philosophical methods in identifying the correct coarse of action in all fields of human life. Bioethics, for instance, is concerned with finding correct approach to such matters as euthanasia or the allocation of limited health resources. Similarly, environmental ethics analyses issues such as the responsibilities of humans in relation to landscapes and species (Hargis, Resick & Shao, 2011). Still on the same context, business ethics involves itself with such issues as the responsibilities of managers as far as profit is concerned or the task of whistleblowers to the public as opposed to the employees. Therefore, applied ethics is a study that is supposed to include practitioners to work together with professional philosophers.
According to Harris et al. (2011), applied ethics uses six different domains to assist in the improvement of organizations and social issues at both national and global level. These domains are: decision ethics or ethical decision process, ethics to improve professionalism or professional ethics, ethics improving our basic human health or clinical ethics, business ethics or morals to improve ethics in an organization, ethics between organizations or organizational ethics and social ethics or ethics among nations. Applied ethics is different with normative ethics that deals with beliefs of what is right or wrong and also from meta-ethics, which is concerned with the nature of moral statements. Applied ethics suits well in organization as it governs the way things run and also the way people conduct themselves when relating with their colleagues and the public.
Evolutionary ethics could sometimes be a form of descriptive ethics or normative ethics. Descriptive evolutionary ethics compose of biological approaches to morality (ethics) as far as the role of evolution in putting human psychology and behavior in shape is concerned. These approaches are based on scientific fields such as sociobiology, ethnology and evolutionary psychology with an aim of understanding and describing observed ethical preferences.
Normative ethics on its side may stand for a more independent trial to use evolution; either alone or partly to justify a logic ethical system. According to Jordan, Mullen & Murnighan (2011), people must rise up beyond their selfish genes to behave in a good moral perspective. People have been endowed with various instincts by evolution, but to know which one to empower, they need moral systems. Evolutionary ethics attempts to close the gap existing between natural sciences and philosophy. It argues that natural selection has provided human beings with a sense of morality and eagerness to be good. These are the core values that an organization ought to have in order to guarantee success in its operations.
The value of ethics and ethical decision making in management
According to Kaptein (2011), Engaging in business globally creates room for conflicts in norms. Many companies performing business globally have defined code of ethics, mission statements and policies of integrity guiding their principles. However, because they operate beyond their boundaries, they are bound to confront different set of norms, which conflicts with their internal norms (Jonsson, 2011). For example, child labor is illegal in United States of America and it is prohibited by both law and firms’ policies. However, there is no legislation against it in Pakistan and they argue that child labor improves family income as well as keeping the children off the streets. From this scenario, child labor is seen as an ethical factor from the American perspective. On the contrary, a child left to roam in the street is the ethical issue as far as Pakistan is concerned. Both an American manager and a Pakistan manager may look into the same issue, but in respond in different ways. They would be considered right since both of them respond according to their respective norms.
To complicate the issue further, ethical theories used to facilitate moral reasoning gives out different results in relation to the same conflict (Lawrence, 2011). If we look at the same ethical dilemma, utilitarian method of reasoning could be found to favor the argument. Taking it from different stakeholders, the income gained through child labor could maximize happiness for the most. This is because the family benefits from the income, the child is safe when working with his/her mother than roaming in the streets and the company cuts its production costs. In contrast, deontological method would lay emphasis on the moral norms being violated. If child labor is seen to be the most important rule, action would be taken and stop it by finding an existing solution. On the other hand, if family’s survival is viewed to be important, a solution would be found as well and should go together with discontinuing child labor. Some companies came up with programs to educate children as well as paying their parents for the work the children will do when they reach legal age as stipulated by the UN.
“As human progress continues ethnic in management keeps changing” (Man-Fong, 2011). With the emergence of new industries, e.g. internet, rules are being renewed as we move along. Norms are also being formulated based on those gaining access to this mode of communication. When people’s custom changes, modification is done in ethical positions. For instance, in the Netherlands euthanasia is legalized, normalized and formalized. Due to this, the medical profession where oath is taken to conserve and preserve life is questioned now requesting it to administer death in certain conditions.
From a manager’s point of view, the role of ethics is dependent on the extent, to which the company is willing to be responsible (May & Pauli, 2002). The pro-active state would feature a company that believes strongly in its particular mission as morals. This would eventually help by being a trend setter to some upcoming ethical dilemmas. The re-active mode would see companies with their full knowledge of social responsibilities; respond to emerging situations instead of anticipating them. As cited by Meena and Trevino (2011), the passive state brings the company to a deviant behavior by rejecting responsibilities. The corporate world is featured by two main extremes, that is, profit and human safety on the other hand. These extremes are said to constitute and bring people to an ethical spectrum.
In the recent past, business leader and organizations have woken up to the reality involving social responsibility as well as organizational ethics. This has consequently created room for ethical decision making as far as organizational operations are concerned. Most organizations and businesses have recognized that there are forces driving organizational change. There are positive incentives for doing the right thing as well as disincentives for doing the wrong thing. Ethical decision making is associated with bringing about great organizational advantage as described below:
Competitive ability is reinforced by ethical decision making. Customers increasingly favor suppliers and providers who possess a sense of responsibility and ethical practices. Failure for an organization to portray such values means loss of market share, reduced revenue and shrinking popularity (Pimentel, Kuntz and Detelin, 2010).
Ethical decision making leads to improved staff attraction as well as retention. The best members of staff prefer to work for those responsible and ethical employers. Failing to have such qualities means very high staff turnover, which pushes up costs as well as undermining efficiency and performance.
According to Powell & Sperry (1999), those organizations that foster ethical decision making secure the most beneficial investors. This is because investors would not associate themselves with organizations that lack integrity as well as responsibility. They are scared that business operated by such organizations will eventually go down and this will amount to huge loss.
Morale and good culture is boosted by ethical decision making. Staffs who work in socially responsible, high integrity and globally considerate organizations are not prone to stress, dissatisfaction and attrition. Lack of stress means happiness and happy staff, therefore, means high productivity, which brings high profits. One of the features of a successful organization is having happy productive members of staff. On the contrary, unhappy staff will always take time off, demand a lot of attention from management and can’t even solve simple problems that might face the organization in their course of duty.
One of the most important aspects of an organization is reputation. This is because it takes years for an organization to build a good reputation. However, this is made easier when organizations apply ethical decision making when running their operations. This minimizes chances of scandals and disasters, which destroys good reputation instantly. In case a scandal occurs, ethical responsible organizations will find ways of dealing with it quickly, openly and honestly. People tend to forgive those organizations that genuinely try to do the correct thing.
Ethics in Leadership
Leadership is about making decisions, creating opinions and developing attitudes. It is much more than just managing. Ethics cannot be equated to a cookbook for great decisions because leaders have the knowledge that every decision has top portray high levels of responsibility and credibility. For one to be considered as a leader, it calls for absolute trust from the subjects involved and not forgetting that most of them judge according to their own understanding (Shafer & Simmons, 2011). Leadership ethics, therefore, are the fair management practices based on strong principles. Ethical leaders usually set high yet reasonable standards for their subjects, which they also adhere to. Values based on consideration and equality of others as opposed to biases that may automatically reflect leadership ethics should always dominate at workplace.
There are a number of ethical theories in existence, but leadership ethics primarily associates themselves with deontological or teleological domains (Scott & Karen, 2003). One of them applies to the conduct of the leader and the consequences involved whereas, the other one portrays the character of the leader and the resulting duty.
Teleology is a theory that brings out duty from what can be considered valuable as an end. This is diametrically opposite and contrasts deontological ethics. Teleological ethics have it that the most important factor in duties is the value portrayed by actions when non-moral values are realized. They are characterized by a focus on the effects that any action is bound to have and for this reason, they are termed as consequentialist systems of moral. The term consequentialism and teleological can be used interchangeably. This is because teleology is more of result based as opposed to being cause based. Having this in mind, it is important to have some understanding of what might result from our actions so as to be able to make correct moral choices. Whenever people make choices that bring out correct consequences, they are said to be morally right. On the other hand, if people make choices which result to incorrect results, they are seen as being morally wrong.
Teleological domain composes of three common theories that are differentiated by the person/persons benefiting from the decision. The first one is labeled, egoism whereby the decision appears to be self serving meaning that the leader is the immediate beneficiary. Egoism sets as its target the pleasure, benefit or greatness that is for one person alone. It claims that individuals should always act for their own interests regardless of the conflicts based on values and interests likely to emerge from others. However, egoism does not require its moral agents to harm or disturb the well-being and interest of others during their process of making moral deliberations. Research in neuropsychology that involves the patterns of blood flow in the brain when decision process is taking place, provides a potentially important implication for decision making and egoism. Shafer and Simmons (2011) argued that there are two essential types of decision process carried out by executive leaders, veridical that is concerned with finding the truth, and adaptive, which are concerned with finding what is good for a person. Most decisions made in executive leadership are based on priority, made in ambiguous surroundings and are more of adaptive than veridical.
The second one is labeled utilitarianism and it dictates that decisions are made in order to yield greatest good for greatest number. It holds that the right course of action maximizes the collective good of many individuals. Utilitarianism is the best form of consequentialism and this simply means the action is considered moral based on the results it yields. When people are faced with a choice, they must in the first place consider the likely results of the potential actions and from that choose to undertake those actions they believe will yield the best results. For a rule to be considered morally right by utilitarianism, one must have a sharp focus on what would happen if that rule was followed universally. If when followed would produce the greatest good for a great number of people, then the rule is considered morally right.
The last theory is the opposite of Egoism and it is called labeled Altruism. It portrays that the decisions are derived in the best interest of others (Rumen, 2010). People have a moral obligation to serve, help or benefit others leading to the sacrifice of self interest. It is a form of consequentialism which indicates that actions are ethically right if the results yielded are good to others. In other words, an action is seen as morally right if the consequences are favorable to everyone and not the agent. According to altruism, people are not supposed to exist for their own sake. The service that they offer to others is the justification of their existence and the self-sacrifice is seen as the highest moral duty, value as well as virtue. However, people are advised not to confuse altruism with kindness, respect for others’ right or goodwill.
As described earlier, deontological domains seek to evaluate the morality of choices through criteria difference rather than the states of affairs brought about by those choices. On its account of morality, agents can’t make specific wrong choices even if those wrongful choices will be minimized by doing so. For deontologists, the right thing has priority over the good thing. This means that even if an act portrays goodness in it and it’s not in accord with right, it might not be undertaken. Examples of deontological theories are explained below:
Agent-centered deontological theory
According to this theory, every individual has both obligation and permission that gives one the agent-relative reasons for action (Reynolds, Weaver & Trevino, 2006). An agent-relative reason refers to an objective reason, the same way there are agent-neutral reasons. This agent reason constitutes an objective reason for a certain agent to do something or not. In that line, an agent-relative obligation is meant for a particular agent to take some action and the obligation does not give anyone a reason to support the action. For instance, each parent has specific obligations to his/her child, which are not shared by everyone. Similarly, an agent-relative permission is one that gives authority to do something even if the act will generate various adverse consequences. Morality is seen as being more personal as everyone is obliged to keep his/her moral house in good order. Some agent-centered theories put emphasis on actions and intensions as the ones that drives morality of a person. One of such agent-relative views states that it people’s intended means and intended ends that defines their agency. These intentions mark out some goals that people are set to achieve in their actions, i.e. if people set a bad thing as their end, they are said to set themselves ate evil.
The second form of agent-centered deontology focuses on actions and not mental state. It portrays that every human action must originate from a certain state of mind, which is reflected through willingness or volitions. Such willingness is what brings out connection between actions to the agency and this is of great moral concern in the agent-centered version. For instance, people are obliged not to kill an innocent person, but there exists no agency involved in such events as deaths. There has to be two things involved as far as agency is concerned; the action of killing must be out of willingness and the willing must lead to death of an innocent.
The third form of agent-centered deontology is derived from the combination of the other two agent-centered views. This would have it that the agency in better terms is more or less constituted by intentions and actions (Moore 2008). In this view, the agent-relative does not focus on intensions and causes separately instead, it focuses on intended actions. For example, people have deontological obligations, which are with respect to human life not to murder, i.e. to kill following a state of an intension to kill. This human agency dictates that both intensions and causings should follow each other concurrently. If one appears in absence of another, then the whole process does not qualify to be a human agency as far as this view is concerned.
Patient-centered deontological theories
These are the second set of deontological theories of morality. The theories involved in this group are more rights-based than duties-based and in most cases they appear to be agent-neutral. Here, the main idea is to protect the rights of people in that they proscribe making use of people’s body, talent and labor without their consent. These theories appear to have the ability to explain the universal and cross-cultural intuitions about some hypothetical classical cases like transplant and trolley (Modarres & Rafiee, 2011). For trolley, a runaway trolley might kill five people unless it is diverted in a way that it will kill only one person. Most people will regard it mandatory and permissible to divert the trolley. This is opposite to transplant where a surgeon might kill a person who is healthy and transfer the organs to five other dying people. Despite saving the lives of the five, the resulting universal reaction is more of condemnation rather than appreciation. Saving the life of the workers in trolley is viewed as right even if the trolley was switched with an intension to kill one person on the side of the road. This version is labeled agent-neutral and libertarian in the sense that it can’t hold strong duties to help others.
Contractarian deontological theories
These theories give distinction between patient-centered and agent-centered theories of deontology. Acts that are forbidden by those principles agreed upon in a given social setting are regarded as morally wrong (Harvey & Harris, 2010). Contractualist accounts can neither be regarded as normative nor meta-ethical and they cannot lead to non-consequentialism when viewed as a method to derive moral norms. Generally speaking, contractualism is neutral as far as agent-centered and patient centered theories of deontology are concerned.
The deontological domain considers the consequences and regards the particular decision as well as whether the act is good or not. Business performance and conduct are monitored by the media as well as other interested parties. This means that they are always available to virtually everyone. In trying to manage this, people develop corporate culture that maintains a global perception among investors as a good and ethical entity.
Lane (2004) published the results a study he carried out concerning socially responsible investing. The study followed a positive screening approach for specific desirable behaviors. The behaviors mentioned were in the field of social justice and environmental practices, human right and employee relations. A positive correlation between market perception of the public corporation as well as ethical conduct and market share was established. The perception from a better understanding is not only based on honesty of leaders, but also on social responsibility of the company. The need for an effective educational practice field to create the learning of leaders is becoming more critical as technology progresses in making the world relatively small as well as actions of leaders exposed for evaluation. Similarly, the elements of access, social responsibility and human rights are more closely aligned today between business and education. The successful international companies in future will largely depend on their cultural diversity, as well as homogeneously observed and recognized set of human and social values.
Apart from those literature that give descriptive accounts concerning ethics, there are other literature that treat ethics as an exhortation. Some leaders are harsh to their subjects, others teach their subjects to be cruel, some platy cruelty of their subjects as a form of motivation, some view their subjects as dependent and childlike and worse still others destroy processes that the society has set as a way of preserving freedom, human dignity and justice. However, he fails to explain what all this means as far as moral commitment and relationship are concerned. Moral luck can be considered as a crucial aspect of leadership and ethics. This is because it helps people to think about risk assessment and ethical decision making. To better understand this, it is of great value to look at the following two examples.
First, consider the situation of a leader who is faced by a case involving terrorists who are threatening to blow an airplane full of people. The plane in the current state is sitting on a runway. Opinions from the staff members are aired to the leader who entertains a number of options. On the other hand, the leader’s military advisers respond claiming that they have a plan and that they would rescue the hostages safely. The leader is both morally restricted to surrendering to the terrorist and also morally opposed to unnecessarily killing the terrorists. The leader is faced with moral obligations and owes some duties to a number of stakeholders. This leader weighs both the technical and moral arguments carefully and finally chooses to attack, but unfortunately ends up unlucky. Things get out of hand and at the end of it all the hostages get killed.
Secondly, consider another leader in a similar situation. In this case, negotiations are moving on in a slow manner and the advisers claim that attacking the terrorists is risky. The leader eventually gets impatient with the advisers and also with the hostages. Moral arguments are dismissed and the leader fails to give a damn about who gets killed and who survives. He decides to attack the terrorists and believe it or not, the leader is lucky. The attack becomes successful and the hostages are freed safely.
From this it’s wise to conclude that some leaders are ethical in their actions, but unlucky and vice versa is true. Most difficult but moral decisions made by leaders are very risky. This is because they tend to lack concrete information and control over various variables, which might affect the outcomes. This not withstanding, leader who fail to deliver according to peoples expectations are worth forgiving only if they acted with deliberate care and also with reasons that are morally right. Moral luck is ironical in that those leaders who are reckless and fails to base their actions on acceptable moral grounds are both celebrated as heroes anytime they are successful and condemned when they don’t deliver. Since people cannot at all times know the results of their actions; moral judgment should always be based on moral practices that are right and not on outcomes.
Good and successful leaders recognize what they value and the relevance of ethical behavior. The best leaders are those who portray both ethics and values in their leadership actions and style. Values and ethics of a leader should be visible since they leave them in every action they take during their day to day operations. These actions enable the subjects in the workplace develop trust or fail to trust a leader according to their own judgment. Mistrust is always understandable in workplace if leaders never portray their values as well as ethics in their actions. This is because the subjects do not know what they should expect especially if the leader says one thing and does another opposite one.
When leaders exhibit their ethical behaviors in the right manner, the subjects tend to do the same by portraying proper workplace ethics. On the contrary, if leaders fail to use ethical behaviors as expected, their subjects are prone to neglect their workplace ethics. For one to be respected as a successful ethical leader, he/she must choose values and ethics that are most important. After choosing, it’s one’s obligation to use them in defining his/her character and then live visibly each day at the work place. A leader drives and influences the members’ staff in achieving a particular common goal. Ethical leaders respect their subordinates as though they are part of an organization thereby creating an ethical environment within the same organization.
Deontology seems to be the most applicable of all ethics in leadership theories. This is because it allows agents to shows concern to their friends, families and projects. It portrays the importance of doing what is morally right even if it violates the rules of the duty at hand. People are set to do what is morally praiseworthy as opposed to morality demands. Deontology accounts for cross-cultural intuitions that are strong as described in trolley and transplant case studies. Leaders who use deontological point of view have their own moral standards and are bound to complain or hold to account those breaching the standards. For a leader to be termed as ethical as far as deontology is concerned, he/she must possess certain traits as described below:
Leaders should show high levels of dignity and respectfulness. They should respect others in the organization and should not use the efforts of their subordinates to achieve selfish personal goals. Respecting the feelings, decisions and values of followers is very important. This can only be done through listening to them attentively, having compassion as well as putting oneself in the shoes of those with opposing viewpoints. When this is done, the subordinates will have their values and beliefs authenticated thereby enhancing their cooperation.
Leaders should also be ready to serve others. This is reflected when they put their subordinates’ interests far beyond their own interests. They are humane and everything they do is for the good of their subjects.
Ethical leaders are just in their dealings in that they treat all their subjects with equality and makes sure that the followers get what they deserve. They do not entertain any personal biasness and in case some followers get treated discriminatively, the dispute settlement grounds should be totally fair, built on morality and clear.
Successful ethical leaders are those that engage themselves in community building. They put the followers’ purposes as well as theirs into consideration while making intensive efforts to realize goals that are suitable to all. They have the interests of the community at heart and works hard to realize the community’s goals and expectations.
Leaders should be loyal and honest as far as their actions are concerned. This is an important virtue of an ethical leader as the subordinates can rely upon them without fear of disappointment. They tend to present facts, ideas and circumstances with openness as well as truthfulness, no matter what they are.
The nature of workplace is changing each new day and this call for ethics training for institutional priority. Employees have become more diverse than ever before in culture, nationality, education, age, and economic status. It follows, therefore, that these employees have differing backgrounds, goals, values, and perceptions as far as acceptable behaviors are concerned. Most of them have some career objectives, which may be difficult to achieve in the current societal setting.
For the good of the organizations, the diverse, multicultural employees are asked to enhance cooperation as well as respect for one another. However, in the organization setting workers are faced with some decisions that require them to act in a manner to protect their own interests. The management and leaders are faced by tough pressures in trying to make employees adjust to change and have a common culture and vision.
Downsizing of staff, disposal of toxic waste, pollution control, cost containment, employee rights, discrimination just to name, but a few are some issues facing business and the society. Such issues are complex and sometimes cause ethical dilemmas, which are hard to find solutions for. Due to this complexity, most institutions have developed some code of ethics that are intended to reconcile diverse cultures and values. Examples of ethical dilemmas include: scarce resources allocation e.g. who should receive a kidney transplant, treatment withdrawing, and the use of expensive resources.
To arrive at which theory to use, there are criteria that are used to deal with ethical dilemmas by managers. The first thing a manager needs to do is to analyze the consequences of whichever decisions they take. Here, the people who are likely to be hurt by the decision are considered as well as those who will benefit from the decision. This calls for interpersonal skills as well as negotiation skills. Some organizations are even undertaking training to enhance critical thinking as well as conflict resolution skills among their employees. The long term and short term effects of the decisions are then made to determine the overall effect of the decision on the organization.
Conflict resolution cannot be handled by one or two people. All the stakeholders in a given situation must be involved for both ethical and legal reasons. For instance, in a health facility, medical decisions are handled by a multidisciplinary team that should compose of family, patient, nurses, dieticians, psychologists, physical therapists, social workers, significant others, etc. during such meetings, views, opinions and concerns of every stakeholder are considered. This principle is also applicable in business where opinions from all direct and indirect stakeholders are considered. This also includes potential clients since their choice to be associated with a firm depends on their reputation as well as ethical behaviors (Sonnesyn, 1990).
The second step in resolving an ethical dilemma is to review all the available options without considering their consequences. After looking at all the possible actions to take, there is a need to look at them in relation to how they measure against moral principals such as integrity and honesty. After careful examination of all the possible actions, it is possible to determine if the action is in conflict with people’s rights. Incase the action is conflicting with people’s rights; a clear thinking is required to determine which carries more weight than the other. When this has been determined, the option with less problems regarding people’s right is highly considered.
The final stage is taking action based on both the two steps. Most leaders take action on behalf of their organizations but they do not promise that they will yield results with absolute certainty. These actions they take have a certain percentage of risk in them and leaders must learn to live with the consequences of their decisions. However, if these decisions are made based on some moral and ethical principles the leader needs not to worry about their outcome. This is because the outcomes are influenced by other factors other than him. The speed of resolving conflicts in an organization is what renders a leader responsible. Leaders are advised to ethically solve conflicts in the organization long before they affect the quality of products and services. They should also come up with methods to tackle conflicts as soon as they are noted by the investors and employees. To make this possible and effective, they should follow the guidelines explained below;
They should put a disclaimer with detailed ethical standards in every publication that comes from their office. This enables the recipient to report questionable ethics using the correct channels. Leaders should demonstrate what is the right and wrong ways of dealing with conflicts in an organization. Managers and supervisors should be trained so as to be able to mediate ethical issues in a considerable manner. Policies put in place should guide mediators in being neutral and objective when dealing with ethical issues.
Reward systems should be introduced on employees and departments, which are seen to possess exemplary ethical records. This can be done through newsletters, personal citations, promotion as well as bonuses. Leaders should as well promote whistle-blowing programs in every department so as to gain insight into the hardly noticed ethical issues. This should always be confidential and provision of legal protection enhanced for the employees involved. Those successful ethics mediations should be outlined in the industrial publications. This will helps in showing the company’s strength thereby attracting investors as well as instilling confidence to the stakeholders.
Lastly, ethic statements should be amended so as to reflect changing dynamics and industry issues. The amendments should be done by all stakeholders involved to make sure all ethical issues are addressed. To better solve these organizational conflicts, it is ore advisable to apply deontological theories as opposed to teleological theories. This is because teleological theories are more concerned with self fulfillment and gives no concern about other parties involved.
Deontological theories can be applied in various situations and organizations to resolve conflicts and dilemmas. One such organization where this theory can be applied is the Enron Corporation. This was an American company that dealt with energy supply, services and commodities supplies. It was based in Houston, Texas and it went bankrupt following a well planned, systematic and institutionalized fraud it committed. The company had employed over 21,000 by the year 2001 and after careful accounting strategies were done, it was listed one of the largest companies in America. People expected it to dominate the trading, which it had invented in the field of communication, weather securities and power. However, this was not so and the company turned out to be the biggest corporate failure the world history.
The company had been performing exceptionally well in the years between 1996 and 2001.It earned the title of the most innovative company of the year for six consecutive years. In the year 2001, one of the analysts gave a report that indicated that the company was at the verge of collapse due to many debts. The value of investors’ equity fell during the same year from $85 to 30 cents. This occurred right after it was discovered that many revenue and profits were emerging from the deals it had with limited partnership which it held control. The company management had been hiding some of the debts the company owed by not indicating them in their financial statements. Moreover, the company’s registered assets were found to be exaggerated and some non-existence.
When the report was received by stakeholders, shareholders started selling the company’s bonds and shares as fast as they could to cushion their interest in the company upon its collapse. They lost nearly $11 billion when the corporation’s stock price went down from $90 to $1 by the end of 2001. This is what triggered investigations by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The rival company which was called Dynegy offered to buy the company at a quick sale (fire sale price). In the year 2001, the company was declared bankrupt. Some of its major assets were purchased by investors who later transferred its head quarter to Omaha.
Most of the executives at Enron corporation were indicted a number of charges and later they were imprisoned. The firm lost majority of its customers and eventually it was shut down. Employees together with shareholders received very limited returns in lawsuits even after losing billions in stock prices and pensions. New regulations were enacted to safeguard the financial accuracy of companies following the scandal at Enron. One of the legislation was the expanded repercussions for altering, destroying or fabrication f records in federal investigations. The act increased accountability of auditing companies to remain unbiased and neutral of their clients.
Such being the case with this company, many loopholes had existed in its management and decision making process. These discrepancies led to the liquidation of a company, which had won a lot of praise for its excellent performance. There are many decisions that were made that led to the downfall of the company. Some ethics in the decision making process were ignored and without them, effective leadership and management of the company could not materialize.
The manager had applied the utilitarian ethics theory. He anticipated the outcomes of his deeds, which, though wrong in nature would bear good fruits for the company in the long run. He failed to recognize the duty he owed the company to remain honest in his dealings. He hoped that the outcomes of his actions would be beneficial to many; the owners of the business, employees and shareholders.
According to the manager’s expectations of the outcome, the employees would be happy to work for a prosperous company with many prospects and share in its profit making. On the other hand, shareholders would reap values from what they had invested in the company in form of shares. The application of this theory in the decision making of the company did not yield the expected results.
Agent-oriented deontological theory states that one has an obligation and permission to take action. It focuses on keeping individual moral record spotless regardless of the cost or deals involved with the actions that he/she performs. In the case of Enron Company, the top management perfectly used one element of the agent-oriented theory-the permission to take action. However, the manager failed to use the second element-obligation.
The top managers of Enron Company had an obligation to the company to be honest and transparent. The fact that the manager did some business off the books means that he made a decision to be dishonest to the company though his intentions may have been good. The top management of Enron Corporation was obliged by the law to obey the regulations laid down pertaining fraud. The company not only did defraud people, but also led other organizations to get involved in corrupt dealings. One such organization is Barclays bank that created a special purpose entry to hide Enron’s debt.
Patient oriented deontological theory has its emphasis on the right more than obligation. This theory states that an action is right if it respects the rights of all humans. Failure to respect humans results to breach of ethics. The top management of Enron Company disregarded this theory. Being a leader who had experience, the manager ought to have known that there was a possibility of bankruptcy due to his fraudulent action. As such, he should have refrained from doing business off the books to avoid violating the rights of those who were employed by the company. The employees had the right to employment and earning a living. Patient oriented deontological theory should have been applied here to avert the loss of jobs by the employees of Enron Company.
In a Contractarian deontological theory, an action is regarded to be ethical if it follows the rules that other moral agents would normally conform to upon entering a contract for mutual benefit. The manager of Enron Company again failed to abide with the rules that dictated that he had to safeguard the interests of the company and its employees. He ought to have honored the terms under which he was hired so that both himself and the company would mutually benefit. The Executive became egocentric and decided to pursue his personal goals at the expense of the welfare of the organization.
Enron top management used mark to market accounting. This practice was deceptive in nature to all people outside the organization. It portrayed the organization as very successful while in the real sense it wasn’t. This practice portrayed the management of the company is over-ambitious in nature and wanted success at all cost, including being unethical. The management ought to have focused on the ethical perspective of their actions not the outcomes they so much yearned for. By doing this, they would cultivate the virtue of patience and hard work. Good marketing skills would have then been employed which over time would have brought about the success the management longed for. The bankruptcy problem would, therefore, have been avoided using good leadership ethics.
Enron Corporation is not alone in this. Earlier a space shuttle challenger collapsed and claimed lives of seven astronauts. NASA did investigations on culture and revealed some important lessons. According to them, no error occurred and the managers did not commit wrongdoing intentionally, but all this could have been prevented. These errors were progressive year after year, i.e. the engineers noticed the damage, but they kept on convincing themselves that the damages were acceptable. This was as a result of poor judgment. NASA had a culture, which was success oriented and this made them hire the best employees ever. They set very high goals, which amounted pressure to them in trying to realize those goals. This made them assume minor violated standards and those minor standards turned out to be their standards gradually. They rewarded the successful employees while shunning the non-performers. This is because their main focus was on numbers and success as opposed to long term values.
Leadership ethics are vital and companies that fail to endorse them ends up being bankrupt. Few years back, in the USA a number of 257 companies with a value of $258billion were rendered bankrupt. Having a close look at what went wrong and why the companies had to fall drastically, there is evidence that they failed due to ethical as well as moral shortcomings. The companies laid their objectives on success and assumed the interpersonal conflicts that existed. Minor mistakes were ignored and this created many loopholes, which at the long run destroyed the whole company.
Business leaders need to safeguard the integrity of the business world. There are so many other non-human challenges facing the world today such as political strife, hard economic conditions and terrorism. In one way or another, they affect the business world negatively. It is very hard for people to control these factors and more often than not, people feel helpless about these forces. Business leaders have therefore a duty to uphold and lead the way in creating good moral conduct at workplace .Their duty to show a good example will reduce these negative factors affecting the business world since the rest seem hard to control.
It is of great importance for leaders to exercise dependability, dedication and teamwork as components of their ethics. Having consistency is a key to earning appreciation from followers since nobody is allowed to get away with any unethical behavior. Ethical leadership cannot work in an environment where unethical behaviors are being accepted and treated as if they are good. When leadership is done by example, it helps create an environment of ethics that is characterized by team work. When leaders act with emotions they are likely to be engage in unethical behaviors when dealing with their subordinates.
Applying ethics in leadership means stressing to do the right in all situations as well as learning from past performed mistakes. Leaders who learn from their mistakes turn out to be the most competent in the long run. They are compassionate yet very consistent in their management tasks of ethical issues with their followers. Reviewing ethics once in a while may keep the organization informed and allow for change management. Rewarding employees for ethical behaviors and punishing those who possess unethical behaviors can be effective if well managed.
Effective communication Demonstration
Communication refers to the process of conveying information that is meaningful to others. For communication to take place, there are certain requirements that must be met. There must be the sender of the information. This is the person who originates with the information to be communicated. Secondly, there must be a message to be transmitted to the receiver. The final requirement is the receiver of the message. Communication can be verbal or non-verbal. Verbal communication refers to the conveyance of information through the word of mouth. Non-verbal communication on the other hand refers to the process of communicating information though non-verbal cues such as gestures and body language. Both forms of communication are very important as they enhance the intended meaning.
The communication skills I gained at Hodges University were very helpful in finishing this project. First, the project required reading widely and synthesizing information. This could not have been possible were it not for the skills such as skimming and scanning that was learnt in Hodges University. The information that was required to finish this project was broad in nature. As such, reading all the information at my disposal was impossible. This called for specific skills to be put to use such as scanning. This skill was used to determine at a glance whether the information I was seeking was present at a particular text. This skill saved both my time and energy for if I did not have it, I would have been forced to read large volumes of information to extract just a few lines.
Moreover, the project required me to understand theories of ethics and as well as comparing and contrasting them. To understand these theories required a lot of concentration. Before I learnt communication skills, I used to study in areas with noise without consciously noticing it. When I was doing this project, I avoided such places with noise and looked for those that offered me serenity and free air circulation. At these places, I was able concentrate on the project. In addition, I was able to understand the underlying factors in each ethical theory as well as pin-pointing the differences that existed between different theories. My critical analysis of the theories was enhanced by this understanding, which enabled me to give my thoughts about the issue under study. Formatting of my project through APA formatting style was made easier by the communication skill lessons I attended. As I was referencing my work, I realized how important other scholars are to our present study. They have done studies in many fields exhaustively, making our learning easy. I understood why the professors always insisted on acknowledging other writer’s work that we used during our studies. Expression of my ideas was made easy by the communication skills I acquired. I was able to convey my thoughts in a simple and concise manner, reducing ambiguity in my statements. This will help the professor marking the project to understand my thoughts.
Effective communication helps one to solve existing problems in life. These problems are more pronounced when more than one person is involved. In a group setting, where a decision is to be made, and where the decision depends on a consensus of the people present, effective communication is vital. People have different motivating factors when making decisions. It is a common occurrence that people like their ideas to prevail over other ideas. When one’s idea prevail in a situation, one’s self esteem and confidence are raised. Moreover, people resist naturally ideas that they do not understand.
Professionally, I have benefited immensely from the communication skills lessons I attended at Hodges University. My friend is a general manager at a three star hotel. He invited me for some professional advice. According to him, all factors of production are intact in their rightful position; the employees seem to agree with all the policies he makes concerning the establishment’s goals and objectives. However, he was being face within a dilemma in his organizatio