Ethical Leadership C206 Task 1
A. Ethical Leader Traits & Conduct
While I have been lucky enough to work with several leaders who exhibit exemplary ethical conduct, the one who stands out to me most is my cousin, Jerra Bryant, who was the owner of JB’s Rare Antiques for over thirty years. Jerra began purchasing antiques and rare collectable items as display items for her own home (and her mother’s home) not long after she graduated from high school. Within several years, people in the town began coming to her to get information about their own antique or rare items, and she became an antique dealer soon after. For the next thirty plus years, she was sought after by sellers and purchasers of antiques and rare items due not only to her talent and personality, but also due in large part to her reputation for the many ethical values she exhibited.
Jerra Bryant, owner of JB’s Rare Antiques, was most known by clients (both purchasers and sellers) as being honest and fair. While these are two separate ethical values, they are hard to separate when talking about Jerra. Her reputation among antique collectors, buyers, and sellers was one of honest, up-front evaluation and descriptions of the items and their worth and fairness in both giving fair offers to purchase items for her inventory/collection from individuals and/or stores and also in selling items for a fair price to buyers. While some antique sellers would try to knowingly buy “fake”/inauthentic items for a low price and then present those antiques as authentic and sell for a high price, Jerra refused to have unauthenticated items in her collection/inventory at all. She would be honest with sellers and purchasers about what each item was worth, and what (if any) issues the item had. For instance, if a collection of rare antique stemware had a piece with a small chip in it, she would be honest with the buyer about the issue up front and in fairness, would make sure that the price reflected the fact that the item was not in perfect condition. In consistently being honest and fair, her clients (buyers and sellers alike)
came back to her time and time again over her competitors and many of her clients were referred to her by her past clients due to her honesty and fairness.
Jerra also was known to be extremely compassionate, both personally and professionally. In exhibiting her compassion, she was “the person” who potential clients in “sensitive situations” went to first. Over half of her business in purchasing antique/collectable items for her own inventory came from people who were getting rid of family heirlooms (due to lack of space or the need for money), or were selling antiques/collectables that were the possession(s) of a loved one (usually a recently deceased loved one). In several instances when she felt that the seller was only selling an item or collection to clear up space or get it “out of the way” after a loved one had passed and would likely regret selling the items/collection later, she offered to store/house the item(s) for free for up to a year in her warehouse and then have them reevaluate the sell again then. She also put pieces from her own inventory up for auction twice each year and gave the proceeds to a homeless shelter in her area.
B. Dilemma Analysis
Consequentialist Perspective: In looking at the presented dilemma with a consequentialist perspective, the result (not the individual actions leading to the result) is what is focused on and important. The consequentialist would consider what needed to be done in order to facilitate and create the best result (which is in their mind, the result creating the most benefit with least amount of harm), and they would weigh the consequences and affects that would come from the choices they made (Trevino & Nelson, 2014). In this case/dilemma, the result which would lead to benefitting the most people and causing the least amount of harm to those in society as a whole would be to go against the company and disclose the fact that the artificial joints cause detrimental (and in some cases deadly) side effects in patients. The company potentially suffering financially and the potential loss of a job would be weighed as consequences, but monetary losses and job changes are small in the scope of societal harm when compared to the consequences of innocent members of society losing their temporary or permanent quality of life or losing their life completely due to staying silent about the known hazards of the device.
Deontologist Perspective: Where consequentialists focus on the result(s) and the overall benefit of results to society, deontologists focus on the individual actions. Deontologist’s place higher concern on following rules, fulfilling obligations, and maintaining their duties, and they would be less likely to create a scenario where they went against set laws, rules, and societal norms (Trevino & Nelson, 2014). In this case/dilemma, someone with a deontologist perspective would likely adhere to the legalities of their signed non-disclosure agreement and maintain their own financial duties to themselves and/or family thus not disclose the known side effects of the medical device.
Below are several questions relating to moral development and whether those questions are on the preconventional level, conventional level, or postconventional level relating to the definitions of each provided in “Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk About How To Do It Right” by Linda Trevino and Katherine Nelson (2014):
- What action would be best for society in the long term?: This relates to the postconventional level of cognitive moral development. Beyond rules and laws, this looks at what works for society.
- If I reveal this information, will my company find out and fire me?: This relates to preconventional morality. Considering a worse-case scenario (being fired) for revealing information is staying obedient to the company (i.e., authority) for your own sake.
- Which course of action would best serve justice?: This relates to postconventional morality. This stage again goes beyond rules and laws (and the removal of them if deemed “unjust”) and looks at the need of principles and values as they relate to justice.
- Are there any laws that indicate whether I should disclose this information?: This relates to conventional morality. This stage involves having regard for moral norms across society and the laws/rules that are in place on a society level.
- If I keep quiet, will my company reward me for that?: This relates to preconventional moral development. Personal gain/reward is egocentric and involves personal fulfillment/gratification.
- Ethical Lens Inventory (Attached Separately)
D1. Preferred Ethical Lens Preference and Setting Analysis
In taking the Ethical Lens Inventory quiz/test, the results state that my preferred ethical lens is “results” with my primary values being “sensibility” and “autonomy” (see attached document). Overall, this ethical lens (“results”) places value in having people around them think highly of their character and expertise. This most resembles the consequentialism group of ethical theories where individual goals are used to aid in determining what is ethical. My results also show a prioritization of sensibility and equality, a respect for the dignity of others, a virtue of temperance, the belief that I can create my own happiness, developing long-term goals, using my past experience as an analytical tool, accepting others for their differences, seeking the greatest good, being energized by possibilities, and embracing creativity and flexibility.
The descriptions given in my Ethical Lens Inventory relating to “results” being my ethical lens is true for not only my work/professional setting, but also in my personal and social life. In relation to my value of autonomy relating to my “results” ethical lens, I find that most of my closest friends in my social circle are those who, like me, have no care for the opinions or expectations of others and choose to create their own path and goals regardless of the views of others. In all scenarios/environments, I have a high regard for embracing creativity, being accepting of others, being energized by possibilities, and wanting others to notice my character.
D2. Risk Description & Mitigation Steps
According to my preferred ethical lens, my risk (defined as the area where I could be overbearing in my expectation that others think like I do) is being calculating. In conflict, decisions can be reduced to a cost-analysis which tries to balance short-term goals with my principles and in doing so, overlook and disrespect the desire and humanity of others. In running the risk of being calculating, I can easily fall under the assumption that others have the same wants and goals as I do instead of asking them what they want instead. This can also come off as being self-absorbed or egotistical.
In mitigating this risk, I first must realize, acknowledge, and respect that other people have their own goals, desires, wants, and path. Secondly, I must not make assumptions about what other people want or what other people’s main goals are. Stopping to take the time to dive deeper in conversations with others about their own goals and wants will give me a broader understanding of others that is based on their overall views instead of the goals/views that I may project onto them. Lastly, I need to consider and use other ways of coming to decisions besides cost-analysis that take other things into consideration and may prevent me from seizing on opportunities that seem riskier (but also with a potential for more reward) than what I would normally feel comfortable with by only using cost-analysis as my basis for my decisions.
D3. Primary & Classical Virtues Discussion
According to the Ethical Lens Inventory quiz results, my primary values are sensibility and autonomy. The sensibility virtue causes me to follow my heart more often than I follow my head, but also tempers my emotions and passions with reason. The autonomy virtue relates to my respect of individuals and individuality (both in myself and others) and causes me to have little regard for following the expectations or opinions of others. My classical value is on which I find it important to embody which is temperance. This value of temperance relates to my self-restraint and moderation.
In reading “Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk About How To Do It Right”, a list of values are presented and the text asks the reader to create a list of the top values which they believe would best serve as the basis for business dealings (2014). My chosen top five values from the list were: Compassion, Fairness/Justice, Respect, Responsibility, and Self-Discipline. My sensibility virtue can cause me to feel compassion for others in allowing my heart to connect with others and see their situations as if I were in their shoes. Fairness/Justice is an important value to me, and I feel that my autonomy virtue allows me to respect how others feel and that others feel like they are in a fair environment and being treated fairly as an individual.
Respecting others for who they are without need to define them relates to my autonomy virtue. Temperance and the need for moderation and self-restraint guide me towards being responsible, and self-discipline relies on my temperance value as well.
D4. Professional Plan/Approach Using Ethical Lens
The results from the Ethical Lens Inventory quiz have helped me to see and realize both my strengths and weaknesses in relation to ethics as a concept, both in personal and professional matters. In moving forward, I will be able to make decisions based on not only my ethical lens and main values and strengths, but also realize that I should consider my ethical weaknesses prior to making those decisions based on my primary lens alone. I will also be able to seek out other decision makers based on their lenses and try to find others who do not share in having a results lens or strengths of autonomy and sensibility as their main values. This will provide for a more even approach to decisions and ensure that ethical decisions are not made based on one outlook. In relation to my risk of being calculating and my crisis being failure, I will make an effort to be more considerate of others’ wants, needs, and goals in relation to mine (or what I assume it is or should be), and I will also have to do some self-work mentally to be better equipped to know and admit when I am overwhelmed and/or need help or need to take a step back. In knowing and utilizing both my ethical strengths and ethical weaknesses, I can become a more aware and confident decision maker.
Trevino, L.K., & Nelson, K.A. (2014). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. ISBN: 9871118801697