Some call it wearing your heart on your sleeve; others call it carrying your emotions. If the discussion is one of values and ethics, leaders should use them openly, constantly encouraging, mentoring, and training others to operate within the values-based and ethical standards expressed by the leader. Values and ethics exist in the philosophical arena and are often mistaken for the same. Values explain that who you are is what you were when. Ethics demonstrates values through behavior. This article takes the position that values exist on a higher plane than ethics.
Dr. Gyertson6 shares a view on value and ethical sources. It says that throughout human development, there are sociocultural influences on the family and the tribe. In prehistoric times, these values meant survival and extended family. Exploring the development of present value offers a very different view of family and tribe. The family is nuclear now and the extended family connection is often limited to the July family picnic. Tribe, community, are multifaceted people who have small neighborhood tribes, work tribes, social tribes and others. They move between tribes and behave differently in different environments. While core values remain, behaviors change as you move between groups. Interacting in work groups is an example. Consider a group of college administrators who work to meet the needs and wants of applicants and students. Administrators work to make applicants and students comfortable entering classes. The faculty works with students by lecturing and facilitating the growth of student knowledge. The student is the same person but is interacting with the different elements of the university.
The value deals with the value, the utility, the moral virtue, the aesthetics and, it can be singular or collective of each one. Values are the core of what a person believes. In a June 2006 USA Today article, Colorado Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings tells the reporter that baseball club players hear the value of character and good living from the top of the organization to the bottom. No pornographic photographs or magazines are seen in the locker room. There are sports, racing and car magazines, and Bibles feature prominently throughout the locker room. This baseball club believes in Christian values and ethical Christian behavior. One fan says he didn’t hear the usual trash talk or player spectacle among members of the Rockies. Leadership in the Rockies organization provides evidence of expected behavior in the clubhouse, on the field of play, and among players on other teams. The Rockies aren’t the “winningest” team in the majors; however, they show a behavioral ethic close to the highest.
Ethics comes from the Greek ethikos, which means to emerge from habit. Ethics is a study of life, a study in which we discover that things are right or wrong or true and false based on how we know them. Therefore, ethics is the external manifestation, the performance of a belief.
Values versus ethics
Values and ethics do not exist separately. However, they can develop differently over time. The values of a child arise from the values of the parents. A child’s ethical behavior develops by observing what parents do. Trust in parents grows when a child sees their parents consistently obey their beliefs (values) through their ethics (what they do). It is a leader’s responsibility to the organization, the workers, and himself not to do less. Followers of a leader will quickly lose confidence if they observe attitudes and behaviors that do not match the expressed ethical standards and values.
Values must identify or embody who a leader is. Values are the bases on which leaders make judgments about what is important. Ethics identifies the moral compass of a leader, the leader’s understanding of good and right. Ethics is a set of moral principles.
Leaders must commit to personal values and organizational values seeking a fit between the two. In addition, leaders must manifest values in a way that leaves the observer fully aware of the leader’s commitment.
A leader studies the community in which an organization exists to find out what the community values. Another consideration is ethical behavior that leaves the leader questioning whether the community acts as it believes. These observations of what a community creates and how it behaves tell the leader the extent of normative order within a community. However, organizational leaders must operate on a higher plane.
One consideration for the leader exam when establishing a code of ethics is that ethics and values do not fit into an orderly ranking in specialty areas. Melissa Ingwersen1 of JPMorgan Chase Bank supports the foundation of ethics at home and school before applying it to business. She says JPMorgan Chase doesn’t want to compromise banks or bankers doing business with questionable clients. Therefore, JPMorgan Chase selects clients by carefully trying to maintain its reputation and the reputation of its clients.
What does the previous example tell us about values and ethics in an organization? For Chase Bank, value is honesty, integrity, and building the character of customers by selecting customers who have values similar to the bank. Chase Bank does not compromise its core values in the interest of obtaining business. Another insight into this provided by Brenda Joyner, et al2, is a sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR includes elements such as economic, legal, discretionary and ethical activities. She says these exist within the values of the public.
Work standard: values and ethics
As previously stated, ethics is the external manifestation of values. In some organizations, leaders are content to accept the ethic of responsibility to shareholders. Although this was generally accepted behavior in boom years, most long-term companies recognize that the bottom line is not an ethically symbolic way to participate.
Joyner, et al, report the work of Paine (1994). In this, they try to put a value on following the letter of the law versus following the spirit of the law. While obeying the letter of the law is legally and ethically correct, seeking the highest value to obey the spirit of the law drives the leader to greater confidence, reducing cynicism and ultimately adding value to the ethical standard. . The ethical standard is a leader and the strategy and integrity values of the organization are the fundamental beliefs that drive the strategy.
Ray Coye3, writing in 1986, saw the need to differentiate between values and ethics. In his opinion, there are no values for an organization separate from the collective values of leaders and members. He provides a definition of values as, “… serving as authorities on behalf of whom decisions are made and action is taken.” More deeply, this 1986 definition is based on the prevailing attitude toward values and ethics considered correct at the time (Coye, 1986).
• A value is freely chosen after considering alternatives and consequences.
• Publicly recognized, appreciated and appreciated
• Consistent and repeated pattern of action
Values exist at the core of our nature; they are our core belief system. Ethics, our behavior, reveals our values within an operating environment. If we say that we appreciate (value) our children but behave abusively, ethical behavior and courage are inconsistent. Within a leadership role, the same is true of our attitude toward workers. The recent history of organizational failure adds to the common knowledge of how personal lust for expressed organizational values ruins businesses and, worse, the faith that workers have in businesses and leaders.
Not all organizations are the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club, but trends start with one person and one organization at a time. Be a trendsetter.
1. Nightengale, B. (2006, June 1). The basball Rockies seek rebirth on two levels. USA Today. Retrieved September 20, 2006 from [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/nl/rockies/2006-05-30-rockies-cover_x.htm].
2. Cook, JR Interview: Melissa Ingwersen, Central OH President, JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA. Ethical Leadership, Council of Ethics in Economics (1,1)
3. Joyner, BE, Payne, D. and Raiborn, CA (2002, April). Building values, business ethics and corporate social responsibility in the developing organization. Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship (7.1), p. 113.
4. Coye, R. (1986, February) Individual values and business ethics. Business Ethics Review (5.1), p. Four. Five.
5. Watson, S. (2006). Personal Values in Business: How Successful Companies Support Their Success with Clear Values. Retrieved September 20, 2006 from [http://www.summitconsultants.co.uk/news-detail.asp?fldNewsArticles_ID=126].
6. Gyertson, DJ (2006). Ethical frameworks. Presentation at Regent University DSL Residency September 13-22, 2006