Discussion Board Posts By Ashley V Twyman Organizational Leadership and Ethics Dr Jeni McRay 07.06.2009 – 08.16.2009 Week 1 •
What are your own deepest moral values? What moral qualities do you look for in other people as well as in yourself? Are these values that you think everyone shares, or are some of your values ones that you feel are not always observed by our culture as a whole? How have your values changed, if at all, as you’ve matured? What influenced their development? Most importantly, how do the answers to the previous questions shape your definition of what a leader is? How do you integrate your deepest moral values with your organization’s values?
My own deepest moral values are basically those which are typically associated with what people think of as Christianity. I am not necessarily religious (I call it spiritual rather than religious) but I do try to hold firm to the value system supplied to us through Christianity. I believe this is deeply ingrained in me because I went to private Christian school during my upbringing. One of the most important moral values I look for in other people is practicing what you preach. I can’t tell you how annoyed I get when someone tells me what to do and doesn’t adhere to their own rule, which they created. I also believe it is important to be honest and always treat other people how you want them to treat you, even if you do hold some sort of authoritarian position over them. I know that not everyone shares these values, especially honesty. It seems in our culture you have to tell a little “white lie” every now and then to get ahead, and I’m sure I’ve done it a time or two myself, but I try so hard not to put myself in a position that I will have to lie myself out of to begin with. The corporate world SEEMS to be filled with those who lie and cheat to make money, but this is what the media shows us. The storied of the bad leaders is what makes the news, not the stories of the good leaders, so of course it seems as though our business society is filled with morally corrupt leaders. Of course people’s morals change as they grow older. It’s so much easier to be good when you are a child and life is simpler. However, even though your take on morals changes, you can have the underlying moral belief you were ingrained with when you were young. Integrating my moral values with my current organization is easy, because my company is very adamant about upholding the moral and ethical standards of our CEOs and Board of Directors. They are very strong Christian leaders and expect their employees to abide by high moral standards as well. I believe the true test of a leader is someone who is willing to stick to their moral standards even when it may not be the most popular thing to do because others around them aren’t abiding by any moral code. It takes a lot of character and strength to be able to adhere to your beliefs when you are surrounded by people who aren’t able to do the same thing themselves. Week 2 • Ciulla weaves an intricate and well-substantiated argument about "bogus" empowerment in
today's organizations. She argues that leadership is a distinct moral relationship between people and that when power is truly shared it changes the rights, duties and responsibilities of
both leader and follower. Do you agree with her arguments about empowerment? Why or why not? Make sure you make adequate reference to specific things she says when crafting your response. Also use specific examples from your experience in various organizations.
I do agree with Ciulla’s assertions that true leadership is a shared relationship between both follower and leader and that true leadership is playing an active role in the aforementioned affiliation; it changes both follower and leader. I am also a firm believer in the idea that the study of leadership should also include the study of followership, because without one the other can’t exist, which Ciulla mentions. When a cohesive and ideal bond is established between leader and follower that bond, first and foremost, must be worked on to establish and continued to be worked on in order to maintain. In order to create this bond, between leader and follower, and in order to truly empower those followers, according to Ciulla, you must be able to maintain and protect individualism, you must be able to keep your promises, you must establish truth and power (which conflict with each other most of the time). Basically, you must be able to figure out an effective way to provide an environment that provides authentic empowerment. You cannot just establish a leader/follower relationship and stop leading once the affiliation is created. Leader has an obligation to lead and follower had an obligation to follow or to be empowered enough to leave the relationship become a leader themselves. Isn’t the true testament of a leader one that leads well enough to create individuals who hold the abilities and capabilities to be potential leaders? I believe so. • Pick at least two specific things from this week's readings and one from the video (perhaps discussing your own preferred moral orientation) that you had strong reactions to, either positive or negative. Describe why you agree or disagree with what you read/saw and how it relates practically to your personal and/or professional life. Evidence solid critical thinking skills and thorough understanding of the readings/video when crafting your post and responses. One thing that I found interesting this week, which was addressed in the video/power point presentation and the reading was the question of weather or not moral/ethical values exist outside the realm of religion. I believe that because this country was founded on Christian ideals and that those ideals were adopted as the social acceptable traits which people should adhere to. Even though there seems to be a shift in moral and ethical values in this country, I believe that “good, old fashioned” Christian ethics are still believed to be social valid. Take, for example, the ten commandments; do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal or lie, honor father and mother, don not swear, use the Sabbath for worship and rest, and so on. Even though you can think of many exceptions to these rules in our society, people still try to adhere to them. What I mean here is that committing adultery may not be seen by all people as something bad, but I can tell you that if someone commits adultery they will, at one point, fell badly because they have violated a rule which is something that our society strives to uphold, even if they are religiously affiliated or not. I have a very close friend that is not religious at all. She had the most horrific home life as a child and was not given any religious influence at all from her parents. She still claims to be an atheist; however, she is very ethical in all aspects of her life, because those standards are ones that society imposes, not necessarily religion, even though the founding ideals of religion are what created society’s standards to begin with. I also found Ciulla’s article extremely interesting. Mainly, the theory that companies attempt to create the illusion of employee empowerment in order to suffice the personal need to feel empowered, without actually sharing any power. You don’t know how many times I’ve sat in meetings and upper management is talking about all this employee empowerment and I have thought to myself “This is what it feels like to be empowered?!?!?! Really?!?!?” I had always thought that the company was striving to actually empower employees, and never thought that it was possible that the company is trying to make it seem as if they are actually empowering employees. To me, it feels like a lot of talk and no action, or as if they think if they keep telling employees they are empowered they will actually think they are, thereby filling their innate need to belong and feel important which, in turn, will create happier employees and a more cohesive work environment. Cullia references Philip Rieff in saying, “He thinks that therapeutic effectiveness has replaced the value of truth in our culture. Truths that make people fell better and help them adjust and fit in are far more desirable than truths that rock the boat. If our culture places more importance on psychic truths than on real truths, and if some ‘truths’ or therapeutic fictions are effective because they make people happier, then leaders have an obligation only to make people feel empowered. They don’t have to give them actual power.” (Ciulla, pg 64) I fully agree with these statements. Lastly, I found the inclusion of the discussion on various cultures and the differences in their empowerment capabilities was fascinating because it makes the point that each culture and their own set of excepted social standards and values weighs heavily on how they can be personally fulfilled because they are conditioned to desire different things than what most Americans are conditioned to expect and want from life. “In a society where people value individualism and freedom, the challenge of leadership in
organizations is the challenge of leading a flock of cats, not sheep. This means in a culture where people live in excepted hierarchies. For example, Americans were first smitten with Japanese management because it was effective and seemed so democratic. What they failed to realize was that imposed by hierarchy and community were internalized in workers, hence requiring less overt control by managers. American business leaders face the challenge of maintaining control without overtly chipping away at individualism and democratic ideals. This is why the language of empowerment is so attractive.” (Ciulla, pg 61) Reference: Ciulla, Joanne B. (2004). Ethics, the Heart of Leadership (2nd ed.). Westport, CT Week 3 •
Who is right - Bruce or Ed? WHY???
I don’t believe it is a question on which debater is right, because “right” is such a relevant term. I believe both Bruce and Ed brought up very interesting points and are obviously adamantly passionate about their personal philosophies. Although, many times throughout the letters I found that both Bruce and Ed were making the same bottom line point, but using different methods of explanation to get there. Did anyone else see this? Despite the fact that I can identify with both individuals pleas and have a great respect for both men being able to represent their ideas in such a cohesive written way, I found myself more apt to agree with the ideas that Ed presented. Early in his first letter he states, “All actions are certainly motivated by something, but the issue is: motivated by what principle? It is obvious that although both Mother Teresa and Thomas Edison were motivated to act, they were motivated by very different and opposite moral principles. Mother Teresa turned herself into an ascetic, selfless scarecrow whose sole function in life was to tender to the poor. Thomas Edison flamed with a burning passion to invent; his focus was not on the social good that his light bulb could achieve (although he was aware of its commercial possibilities); it was on the light bulb. He was motivated by the selfish love of creation.” (pg 106) I fully agree with Ed’s assertion that rarely is there a person on this earth that acts out of complete selflessness. All persons are selfish and getting something out of a situation because personal gain is what motivates us all, in one form or another. What I found interesting is how both Ed and Bruce use Mother Teresa as the ultimate human show of sacrifice. But isn’t Mother Teresa, too, part of the selfish world, by Ed’s definition? Don’t you think, even if it is in the most remote part of her mind, she knows her sacrifices on earth will guarantee her a spot in heaven? I am not trying to negate that she was a wonderful, caring, Christian woman who did great deeds for our world. What I’m saying is that based on the thoughts that Ed expresses (and in a smaller form, Bruce) on the issue of leadership and selfishness, they miss the point entirely! Even if you do something initially under the pretense of it being a selfless act, it has the potential to turn into the selfish act based on the actions (reward, praise) given by someone else. If all situations are contingent upon someone else’s reaction to them, how can we ever do anything selflessly at all? For example, say I an in a really good mood one day at work and I’m talking with customers and smiling and joking with them with the hope that my good attitude may help someone else have a good attitude that day as well. I’m doing this not for my benefit, because I am already in a good mood, but for their benefit, in order to help them. My manager may see this and think to herself that because I am providing excellent customer service she needs to give me a raise. Now it has become a selfish act on my part because I received some kind of compensation for it; something I did not intend to happen at all! Is that fair? Can you still say that my good attitude is a selfish act because I, in turn, received financial compensation for being nice???!!! I’m not saying that Mother Teresa’s only motivation was the promise of a heavenly reward in the afterlife, but wouldn’t doesn’t it make the idea of work a little easier to swallow; if you can believe that someday, somehow you will recognized for the deeds you have done? Generally speaking, yes, everyone feels this way. Is this being “selfish” as Ed presumes? I don’t have the answer to that, but is being selfish and being self interested the same thing (as Bruce and Ed debate)? Is a selfish act the same as an act that is ideally in that person’s best interest? In my opinion, no, but does that mean that my opinion is “right”; no! There is nothing I can say in response to this question that will lead us to a definite answer on whether one man’s philosophies are “better” or “more correct” than the other. I just appreciated the debate because it made me really think!
Pick three specific things from this week's readings that you had strong reactions to, either positive or negative. Describe why you agree or disagree with what you read and how it relates practically to your personal and/or professional life. Evidence solid critical thinking skills and thorough understanding of the readings when crafting your post and responses.
I found Chapter 7 on Explaining Ethical Failures of Leadership by Terry Price very interesting for many reason. First, I thought the focus on the example of biblical failure surrounding the story of David and Bethsheba. Sometimes, when leaders, who are supposed to be perfect because they are in the public eye, feel they have to do completely immoral things to cover up for something that was done because they are SCARED. Scared that they will be found out by the public, scared that they will loose their important position in society, scared that people will suddenly distrust them, scared that people will talk about them, ect. Being scared is one of the strongest emotions people feel, and the psychology behind human reaction to feeling scared was completely ignored. If we are going to address David having an affair with a married woman we have to talk about the fact that leaders, just as the rest of us, are scared too. My assessment of David’s story is that he was human. He messed up and his one mess up snowballed into a huge immoral plot to cover up his first immoral act. Yes, sometimes people mess up, but just because we have an immoral slip from time to time doesn’t mean we have to keep being immoral to cover it up. What’s wrong with admitting to being human? I bet David could have actually covered up his immoral act with a solution which was more honorable than going down in history for committing murder. Should I have been David, I would have called for a meeting between myself and Bethsheba’s husband. I would have admitted to my failure because, as a leader, I would want the husband to see that I knew I did something wrong and was sorry for it. I may ask him to divorce Bethsheba or cast her out of the home if he was angry with her. I may ask him to say the child is his and raise it with a generous financial compensation. I’m not saying these solutions are necessary the epitome of morality, but it sure is better than having someone killed! But he was scared so he immediately over reacted to the situation. Immoral act begot immoral acts. If we can end this cycle, and change it to immoral act begot moral reaction, this might change the entire world and they way we view immorality! Another thing I found interesting in this chapter was the idea, generated by Ludwig and Longenecker, for the “ultimate aim is to force morality and self-interest back together again…” (pg 133) What I have to ask myself is: would this conjunction ever be able to take place? My initial answer is no, and here’s why. Referencing all of history would show us time and time again examples of “great” leaders, many of whom are still world renowned for their achievements and accomplishments. Most of whom, at one point in their life or another, did immoral things but their legacy continues to live on. We can find downfalls in everyone because, bottom line, even leaders are human and they fall short sometimes, just like everyone else. I found it interesting that Ludwig and Longenecker suggest that leaders implement audits and “transformative checks”. I believe if you need to constantly have other’s monitor your actions you can’t even trust yourself, so you aren’t moral to begin with! I definitely believe in a checks and balances system, but if you have to implement constant audits on your moral and ethical character, this send the message to your followers that you can’t trust yourself to be moral, which leads them to distrust you and then the leader-follower relationship dissolves. If I saw a leader who was constantly being audited on their moral/ethical actions, I would think that this leader must have done something extremely immoral in the past and could not trust themselves with being moral, even if that wasn’t the case! Lastly, I found Nathaniel Branden’s work on ethics in the information age and the ethics of Objectivism was very relevant and had some good points. I liked the discussion on and how he stepped us through a broad look at “working history” and human psychology changed through those periods of time. I had never thought about how today’s society makes such rapid advances which would have taken the cave man thousands of years to jump from one to the other because they were primarily interested in their sole survival, rather than what kind of car they want to get after their big bonus comes in. The human world has taken thousands of years to change, but today changes of the same magnitude can take literally seconds! I loved the observation he makes when saying, “The climax of this process of development is the emergence of an information economy in which material resources count for less and less, and knowledge and new ideas count for almost everything.” It’s amazing that our grandparents and even parents have seen this change so rapidly in just the span of their lifetimes. It makes me wonder what changes I will be able to see in mine!
Week 4 •
You are a recruiter for an executive recruitment firm that has recently been retained by one of the largest corporations in the United States to find appropriate candidates for the position of President of the corporation. If the corporation hires one of the candidates you find then your firm will receive one third of the President’s cash compensation —— salary and bonus, an amount in excess of $750,000. Several weeks into the recruitment process it becomes clear to you that the company has gone about the search in a severely flawed way, making it highly unlikely that it will
find the kind of candidates it needs. The Board of Directors, in your judgment, has allowed the CEO to control the search. It is clear to you that he wants someone who will be deferential towards him, which, in your judgment, will make it extremely difficult to attract the most highly qualified candidates. You discuss the issue with your superior. She says that given the intensely competitive environment for executive search firms, it would seriously disadvantage your firm to offend the Board of Directors of one of America’s largest corporations. She reminds you that the Board of Directors is responsible for hiring the President of the Corporation. A recruitment firm, she says, bears no legal liability if a candidate it presents to a company is hired and proves unsuccessful in his position. What should you do in this situation, and why? Be sure and reference points from this week's readings into your answer.
Personally, I wouldn’t care if I “offended” the Board of Directors or the CEO of the company I was doing the search for. In this situation, I believe it is my job, therefore my responsibility, to point out the best type of candidate for the desired position, and if that means discussing with the Board a new direction to look in, so be it. As a leader in the recruitment firm I work for, it is my responsibility to make suggestions regarding the position, and I don’t think it would be “rude” of me to do so. The Board of Directors should not view my suggestions in any way that would make them mad; they should see it as an opportunity to diversify and enhance their corporate environment. Both my company and their company should have enough trust in my judgment, since I am trying to place someone in the role of President in their company, to at least listen to my suggestions for a new type of candidate for the position. It is possible that the Board of Directors has allowed the CEO to manage the search because they have other issues to attend to, and in doing so, may not be aware of the direction the search has taken under his/her supervision. I would simply present my observations to the Board and the CEO and speak frankly to them about what I, as an outsider to the corporation, have seen. Honestly, the situation may take a turn in the right direction, because I would think that the Board would respect someone sitting down with them and actually taking the time to care about the type of person their company needs to fill the Presidential position. Who knows, maybe they would see some promise in me… Just a thought! •
Pick three specific things from this week's readings that you had strong reactions to, either positive or negative. (Make sure you reference at least one thing from the HBR article).
Describe why you agree or disagree with what you read and how it relates practically to your personal and/or professional life. Evidence solid critical thinking skills and thorough understanding of the readings when crafting your post and responses. First I have to say that I found many things about the HBR article interesting this week. Early in the article, Teal discusses bosses, leaders, managers and the qualities of such. He states, “Most of us spend the better part of our working lives convinced that we could do the boss’s job better than the boss.” (page 149) I was shocked at how true this statement really is and how much it got me to think about my current work setting in this context. I mean honestly, everyone, at one time or another sits down with at least one other trusted college and discusses how incompetent their boss seems. For example, just yesterday a college of mine said, “Man, I wish I could get paid to sit in my boss’s office and chat all day like out boss does.” This is an exaggeration, of course, because our boss doesn’t just sit and her boss’s office and “chat” all day, I am sure they are discussing mostly businesses, amongst other things. But what I began to realize was that the general work force doesn’t understand what being a boss, or leader, truly means. How much work it entails and how much effort it takes to keep employees and higher bosses happy. The second item that was very interesting to me was how Teal summed up so many of the requirements of a leader, or boss. “For starters, we ask them to acquire a long list of more or less traditional management skills in finance, cost control, resource allocation, product development,
marketing, manufacturing, technology, and a dozen other areas. We also demand that they master the management arts – strategy, persuasion, negotiation, writing, speaking, listening. In addition, we ask them to assume responsibility for organizational success, make a great deal of money, and share it generously. We also require them to demonstrate the qualities that define leadership, integrity, and character – things like vision, fortitude, passion, sensitivity, commitment, insight, intelligence, ethical standards, charisma, luck, courage, tenacity, even from time to time humility. Finally, we insist that they should be our friends, mentors, or guardians, perpetually alert to our best interests.” (page 149 – 150) WOOOOOOO! Throughout this program I have learned, considered and contemplated all these different aspects, but to see them all listed together makes me tired! And this list is so true! As leaders we are asked to do these things, and to do them well and do it all with a smile on your face! Later in the page Teal sums up the overwhelming feelings I had after I was done with his list by saying, “…first, the good or very good managers, who are exceedingly rare because they actually meet the inhuman requirements for adequacy…” (pg 150) Inhuman is right! But, this is another important part of leadership: knowing how to do and be all these things to all the different commitments in your life in the most functional and appropriate ways. Time management should definitely be an asset! Lastly, for this week, I found a statement from Keeley’s work very interesting. “Modern theorists are more sensitive to personal entitlements than the ancient Greeks, but the very concept of transformational leadership implies that individual interests are less legitimate than collective ends. Why else would they require transformation?” (page 170) First of all, I view transformational leadership on such a higher level than what is being discussed here. To me, transformational leadership isn’t simply about changing specific attitudes or actions. It is about enhancing follower’s lives. If you can transform a way of thinking, then you will see a change in actions and attitudes. A much broader view of the world exists beyond the realm of the everyday. Transforming can open one’s mind to every possibility and every theory and every piece of knowledge in existence. Therefore, individual interests are not being stifled by transformational leadership, but rather enhanced, because as a follower you are suddenly aware that you are entitled to your own way but you also gain a respect for every other way that ever was and ever will be. In this mind set you can truly come to a place where you know that for every question there are thousands of answers, and all of them are correct, sometime, someplace, for some people; and therefore no answer can ever be wrong. In other words, transforming someone doesn’t mean changing exactly what they think, how they feel or the things they do, but rather the thought process behind all of those things. For example, I have had a great experience with a transformational leader, and old professor of mine, Dr. Bill DeArmond from Southwestern’s main campus in Winfield. He taught me that you can believe what you choose to believe, but still have a respect for all religions (this is just one example of the things I learned from him). Just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean you can’t research other religions. I found that many other religions, many of which are termed “cults” by the Christian faith, actually have some legitimate points. Every religion and every “bible” of that religion makes sense. They say things that I agree with and make avid arguments to back their belief system! Does that make me less of a Christian? Does it mean that I am no longer a Christian? Does it mean that I am going to suddenly become a member of this cult that says things I identify with? Am I going to go out and do some spiritual animal sacrifice because this book about another religion says to? NO! What it does mean is that I have gained knowledge, understanding, and respect for some diversity which I didn’t have before. That’s what true transformational leadership is to me; not changing actions or interests or attitudes, no, not changing the fundamental person at all! But it does mean helping to open the eyes of others so they in turn can gain a broader knowledge, understanding and respect in their lives in general.
Week 5 •
Describe a "defining moment" in your professional life that required some of the same sort of selfinquiry the author of "The Discipline of Building Character" talks about. How did this
experience change you? What might you/do you do differently as a leader or manager because of that experience?
One defining moment that comes to mind was my first job out of college at a privately owned retail chain in Austin, Tx. I was quickly promoted from sales to assistant store manager in a matter of two months after being hired. Within a few months after this, the owner announced that he was opening a new location in a town just north of Austin. His daughter was my manager and told me that her father was considering asking me to manage that store. I was very excited and ready for this promotion. One day I show up to work and a new girl is working at the store. My manager introduced her to me and told me that she was going to be filling the manager’s position at the new location. I felt incredibly hurt and angry about this decision, and it only got worse as time went on and I found out more about her. She was a friend of the family’s and basically got the job by default. I had a college degree and she hadn’t graduated high school. All around, the playing field was not even and it was tilted in my favor; I just couldn’t understand why this girl would be given such a responsibility over me. What made matters worse was that I was the one who had to train her! She had never worked in the stores before so she has to be trained from the ground up on EVERYTHING! The first two weeks I begrudgingly trained her, as I had many others. It took a conversation to turn my bad attitude into a good one. My father pointed out that, no, I had not gotten the manger position I wanted, but at least the owner thought I would be a good candidate for the position, and the next time an opportunity arouse, he may think of me first. I wasn’t so sure, at first, that this was valuable advice, but it helped me see that I need to “suck it up” and put a smile on my face and do my job as good as I could. I began living by the “everything happens for a reason” advice my father gave me, and I found that it actually helped my entire attitude toward situations in general. Disappointment because a minute thing to me since I was always concentrated on the fact that everything happens for a good reason. The owner did ask me to become the assistant store manager at the new location and help run the set up of the new store. A few months after the store was up and running, he asked me to fill a new position at the company as head of advertising and marketing. I created all print and radio ads for the company and created all the sales events and promotional events for all locations. It was very interesting work and I loved it! If I had been working the manager’s position I would have not been able to fill the head of advertising and marketing position. We may not always understand people’s choices, and they may not always be the “right” choice, but every person is able to turn every situation around so that they have a good attitude and good outlook about it. This is important for managers to be able to take control of their attitudes in the work setting. This can be done by making a conscious effort to keep a positive attitude and good outlook. Mangers deal with difficult and sometimes emotional situations every day, but a good manger must be able to work through these in an effective manner.