Looking Forward...

Looking Forward...
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Making of Ethical Leaders

     Throughout EDD 8442 Ethics and Responsibility course, all of the students have conducted an in-depth examination of ethics. With that knowledge, all of us hope to post a change within our work setting that reflects social responsibility. This course takes a broad view of the subject of Ethics. It focused on the role and responsibilities of a leader as an ethical role model, decision-maker, and teacher. Brown (1990) demonstrates that ethics can be a powerful tool for better decision making. Brown presents an argumentative approach to ethical decision making, demonstrating how the open expression of opposing views can enable the managers and employees to consider the full range of options for dealing with important ethical issues—and to draw on this ability in all decision making. I did reviewed and analyzed current ethical issues for professional learning communities. Through the use of case studies and a problem-based approach to learning, I had an opportunity to analyze and developed the decision-making skills within the context of an ethical and moral framework. I was encouraged to reflect upon and understand my own ethical behavior and to explore ways to apply this knowledge to the professional practice. I had an opportunity to interact with a national cross-section of students and practitioners from many different organizational settings, all of whom confront similar challenges in their work.

     As an administrator, and one of the leaders in the university, I have regularly called upon to make ethical judgments, and expected to demonstrate the highest standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fortitude in all of the public activities in order to inspire public confidence and trust in the university. I am obliged to develop civic virtues because of the public responsibilities that I have sought and obtained. Respect for the truth, for fairly dealing with others, for sensitivity to rights and responsibilities of citizens and for the public goods must be generated and carefully nurtured and matured. I am responsible for the performance of others, share with them the reasons for the importance of integrity, hold them to high ethical standards and teach them the moral as well as the financial responsibility for public funds under my care. I have an ethical obligation to seek adequate equipment, software, procedures, and controls to reduce the organization’s vulnerability to misconduct. As an administrator, I have to accept as a personal duty the responsibility to keep up to date on emerging issues and to administer the organization with professional competence, fairness, impartiality, efficiency, and effectiveness,

     Throughout my experiences, I realized that it is not easy to be a leader. Leaders are the people having the greatest impact on the group or organization (Johnson, 2009). Leaders are change agents engaged in furthering the needs, wants, and goals of leaders and followers alike. Important leader functions include establishing direction, organizing, coordinating activities and resources, motivating, and managing conflict. Leadership is the exercise of influence in a group context (Bass, 1990). Am I able to be called as an ethical leader? For many years, I thought ethics simply means a list of rules and regulations for controlling worker behavior. Weston (2001) recommends several guidelines, such as welcoming diversity, being fair, clarifying values, and recognizing emotions. Using guidelines, leaders can understand values and give relevant values a voice. According to Brown and Trevino (2006), the practice of ethical leadership is a two-part process involving personal moral behavior and moral influence. Ethical leaders earn that label when they act morally as they carry out their duties and shape the ethical contexts of their groups, organizations, and societies (Johnson, 2009). Both components are essential. Leaders must demonstrate such character traits as justice, humility, optimism, courage, and compassion; make wise choices; master the ethical challenges of their roles; and also responsible for the ethical behavior of others (Johnson, 2009). Leaders act as role models for the rest of the organization. How followers behave depends in large part on the example set by the leaders. According to Johnson (2009), ethical climates promote the moral development of leaders as well as followers, fostering their character and improving their ability to make and follow through ethical choices; while ethical environments have safeguards that keep both leaders and followers from engaging in destructive behaviors.

     After going through this course, I realized I have to make sure what needed to be considered in developing working ethics: the place of ethics in the decision-making process, the power dynamics of the organizational system and how justice and individual rights can serve as guidelines for maintaining the system, and the role of basic assumption in the development of responsible organization. I have to use an ethical perspectives as a way of interpreting oneself, others, and organizations. This perspective will allows me to see people as moral agents who can be responsible and organizations as moral communities and moral agents. I realized the necessity of value judgments and assumptions in making policy decisions; shows how to include opposing views so that they function as resources for making better decisions. Now I know how to use the strengths of opposing views to improve the process of finding the best decision. I also know how differences should be taken not as threats or competitive factors in finding answers but as opportunities to increase one’s knowledge and broaden one’s understanding. This course taught me on how to deal with disagreements, and how to use ethical approaches for analyzing policy issues and decisions. I hope that I can use the knowledge on the analysis of factual statements, such as the relationships between parts and whole, cause and effect, generalizations and specifics, abstract and concrete, and comparison and contrast.

     Now I know a way to analyze basic assumptions, especially assumptions concerning how things work out or get done. I have to be aware of the methods for handling decision-making situations in which people share similar values but have different assumptions and situations in which people share assumptions but have different values. I must always remember that empowering employees through trust, guidance, and ethical standards goes a long way to making the organization a good place to work for all concerned. I must always remember that ethical reflection can empower people and increase their responsiveness to important organizational and social issues. Last but not least, I have learned engaging in ethical reflection as a learning process and can create learning and changing organization. Each and everyone need to learn to be responsible, have a role to play in the organization, and know that they are accountable for their actions. Each organization should be run ethically and treat their employees with dignity and respect. According to Brown (1990), the best ethical guides do not tell people what they should do; rather, they show people how to discover the best course of action for themselves; the purpose of ethics is not to make people ethical; it is to help people make better decisions. All these changes would benefit the organization and the university as a whole.


Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass and Stogdill’s handbook of leadership (3rd ed.). New York: Free Press.

Brown, M. E., & Trevino, L. K. (2006). Ethical leadership: A review and future directions. The Leadership Quarterly, 17, 595-616.

Brown, M. T. (2000). Working ethics: Strategies for decision making and organizational responsibility. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Johnson, C. E. (2009). Meeting the ethical challenges of leadership: Casting light or shadow (Edition 3). Los Angeles: SAGE.

Weston, A. (2001). A 21st century ethical tool-box. New York: Oxford University Press.