The CEO of Berkshire Hathaway said, “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And, if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you,” (Fahy M., Weiner A., & Roche J., 2005). Personal ethics are beliefs that one base their opinions and actions on. We develop personal values throughout our lives and they are constantly changing as we are influenced by different things and people. Every individual throughout their lifetime must make a choice on what they believe a situation to be right and wrong and how they put themselves forth in society as a whole, which is when their ethics comes into place.
Since childhood, I have been taught how to distinguish between right and wrong and it has shaped me into the person I am today. “A person of integrity is willing to bear the consequences of her convictions, even when this is difficult, that is, when the consequences are unpleasant,” states Lynne McFall (McFall L., 2014). One of my core values is integrity and to me it is almost like a moral compass that guides me to make what is considered the right decision. In my opinion, having integrity is the backbone of ethics and leadership because it is all about being truthful even if the truth is ugly. What goes around, comes around and even though one might be temporarily successful due to their unethical ways, it will soon catch up to them and in the end, they will be the loser. It is character and honesty that will outshine and not only that but will leave an imprint on everyone they encounter. I believe that if I want to make society a better place, it starts with me and I need to put forth an example of good character because good character will never be forgotten.
Another core value that I believe in is morality, which is the differentiation of right and wrong, good and evil. This is the essential of what ethics is. Having morality is doing the right thing and according to Laurence Sterne, “Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners,” (Williams D., 2017). When one does the right thing, that decision will never be in the back of their head doubting if they should have done something differently. Through morality does one also build trust; for example, when a company follows the ideas of the stakeholder theory, did their employees and managers operate as a better team. Unfortunately, many businesses only care about maximizing their profits, seeing their employees as a capital with little attention to human cost. Jeffery Pfeffer made an amazing point in which human dignity is much more important than human capital. Such a simple saying, but it has such a powerful meaning and it caught my attention. How I see it is if an action I take has a negative outcome for another, then it is considered immoral. I will always make decisions based on the greater good and never for my own well being if I know it can harm another.
Ethical leadership is something I am striving and learning to become every day. I put strong emphasis on the word ‘ethical’ because many people can be a good leader, but most of the time they can be leading for the wrong reasons. Joanne B. Ciulla makes a great point when she says, “Historians don’t write about the leader who was ethical but didn’t do anything of significance” (Ciulla J., 2014). This makes it very difficult for people to understand the difference between being a leader morally or immorally. There is also a difference between being a leader and a boss and how they make the people “below” them feel. A good leader will always lead to be an example rather than abuse their power to intimidate others. This will not only impact how others think a good leader should act but create an environment of trust and respect within the group. Robert K. Greenleaf makes a great point when he brings up the idea that a servant leader must act in the best interest of the whole community putting their needs first before his/hers (Greenleaf R., 2014). In my experience, working in retail, when there was a manager who would “get their hands dirty” and help us associates on the floor instead of just telling us what needs to be done, the group seemed to work a lot better and as a team. I truly believe that if I want to be a great leader, I need to be an ethical one and one that will be an equal to whom I am leading.
I believe that all these qualities are necessary in order to be a good person in society and to a business. My personal values help me form judgments and base my actions so that I can make the right decision and leave a positive impact to my community and the people I interact with thought out my life. This list of ethics has shaped me into the person I am today, and I hope to always abide in and continue to practice my values for the rest of my life.
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