Ethical Leadership (EHM1): Task 1
A. Ethicality of the Chosen Leader
The leader I have chosen for this assignment is Sam, Sr. Manager of the Technology Project Management Team at my current company. This leader has exhibited exemplary ethical conduct in the two years they have worked in this position, effectively building a team from the ground up and then making sure their employees were taken care of by the company, from salary reviews to professional and personal growth opportunities. In this section of the assignment, I will determine and analyze two ethical traits exhibited by this leader.
1. Two Ethical Traits and How the Chosen Leader Exhibits Them
a. Trait #1: Trustworthy
One of the most important traits in a leader is their trustworthiness. SL effectively exhibits this trait daily in their interactions with their team. I have shared details with them frequently during our time of working together both on a personal and business level, and when I indicated I was sharing with them in confidence they were ready and willing to listen and provide mentorship but not discuss with anyone outside of the two of us. As a specific example of the numerous times I have personally witnessed this behavior, I recently took a complaint to SL regarding a team member who was creating strife within the team. SL found a way to address the concern with this employee as well as move toward resolution without involving me or how the complaint was lodged.
b. Trait #2: Fair & Just Resolution
As the leader of a team, it is highly likely that one must be able to swiftly and effectively resolve issues that present themselves, and part of that is ensuring that the resolution is both fair and just. SL has shown time and again to be not only adept but masterful at such endeavors. Using the same example from before, SL sought to resolve the issue without making the employee that I issued a complaint about feel like they were being attacked or put upon. In truth, it was simply a personality conflict between the employee and several others on the team, and SL used their resolution skills to both fairly and justly find a complete resolution for the issue. What could have been a seed of discontent growing within the team was addressed and resolved without escalation.
B. Consequentialist versus Deontological Perspectives
Before I dive into the scenario presented for this assignment, I will first explain both the deontological and consequentialist perspectives.
Consequentialist ethical theory can be defined as “the view that normative properties depend only on consequences” (Sinnott-Armstrong, 2019). The consequentialist is most concerned with the future and how actions taken now will affect what happens later, so they are likely to gloss over past event as opposed to worrying over them. Simply put, the best choice in any dilemma will be the one that results in the best world in the future.
On the other hand, it is believed that in deontology, “a given action is morally acceptable if it is consistent with relevant moral norms, but it is morally unacceptable if it is inconsistent with relevant moral norms” (Gawronski, 2017). Basically, the focus for a deontologist is on whether any given choice falls under the proper associated rules. The effects of the choice are not important when deciding.
The scenario provided as a talking point for this assignment details the choice of a sales representative at a medical device company regarding an artificial knee joint that is less expensive than competitive products and has a substantially quicker healing time. The only problem is that the company refuses to disclose that for a small percentage of patients, it can cause a potentially lethal infection. Unfortunately, the sales representative has signed a nondisclosure agreement which prohibits them from sharing this information.
The consequentialist would immediately begin considering end results. What choice would result in the greatest good for the most people or adversely, the least harm for the smallest amount of people? What actions must be taken to ensure the best result? If the sales representative was a consequentialist, they might think that breaking the nondisclosure agreement to inform patients of the potential infection is necessary as giving patients all of the information they might need to make a comprehensive decision could result in saving the lives of those who would be prone to the aforementioned infection. However, since it is a small percentage as opposed to a larger one, the profundity of the decision might not be as severe. There is quite a lot of nuance here that is open to interpretation, so the consequentialist might go either way here. I believe, however, that they would be more inclined to serving the people and sharing all the information.
The deontologist is much more cut and dry. From the deontologist’s perspective, they have been limited to a very specific rule: do not share this information with anyone outside of the company. As such, the deontological sales representative would remain silent regarding the potential infection and would adhere to the nondisclosure agreement they signed.
C. Cognitive Moral Development Analysis
The following questions will be used to dive further into this scenario. In this section, I will apply my knowledge of the three levels of cognitive moral development: pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional. The pre-conventional level dictates that rules are to be followed with the goal of receiving a reward or to avoid punishment. The conventional level is focused on the expectations of one’s community or society as opposed to oneself, meaning that rules should be followed until they result in social conflict. The third level, post-conventional, requires that rules be followed until there is a conflict with basic humanitarianism. Using these parameters, I will answer these questions and determine which level is represented.
- Which action would most likely serve the greater good in society? This question is conventional as it suggests forgetting the self and focusing entirely on how the action will affect society as opposed to me.
- If I reveal this information, will I get into trouble and possibly even lose my job? This question is pre-conventional as it is self-focused and determining how I might be punished as the result of my actions. I would consider myself to be a deontologist if I asked this question because I am considering the rules associated with the action rather than the effects.
- Which action best aligns with my long-held belief in the principle of justice? This question is post-conventional. I understand that the product does provide benefits (lower cost and faster healing time), but the adverse effects (potentially life-threatening infection) give me pause and make me want to be transparent with patients about the product.
- What do the laws say, and what would a law-abiding citizen do? This question is conventional. The societal impact of the action is important to me, and I want to consider how it will affect my society. In this scenario, I would want to follow what society dictates and expose the adverse effects, but there is a chance that I would decide not to disclose if the disclosure would result in societal disruption (eg. unfavorable rapport on my team).
- If I keep quiet, will I get some sort of reward? This question is pre-conventional. Similarly to the above question regarding potential negative results such as being fired or punished, this question focuses on how I might be affected by my actions as opposed to society or humanity in general.
D. Ethical Lens Inventory (ELI) Reflection
Please see my results in the Ethical Lens Inventory file attached.
1. Ethical Lens Preference
Based on my results, my preferred ethical lens is Results. This means that my intuition reigns supreme in order to determine the greatest good for myself and each individual. I value that my coworkers and friends think highly of me, whether it’s relating to my morals, expertise, or results. I believe that my preferred lens is transferrable to all aspects of my life. I am an adaptive person by nature, but when considering an aspect of myself that is so deeply ingrained in who I am and how I interact with the world around me, I don’t believe I would alter it for different situations. Additionally, if we’re considering a moral dilemma, the chances that I would make a different choice affecting a friend as opposed to a coworker would be very low.
2. Primary Values & Classical Virtue(s)
According to the ELI, my primary values are Sensibility and Autonomy. Honestly, though, both are such mild preferences that I could easily swing toward the other side depending on the scenario. I tend to be a very moderate person, so these results aren’t surprising. In fact, I would actually say that I’m quite proud of my results. Not only do they allow me a fair bit of flexibility, but they also lend to a very balanced viewpoint. I favor following my heart, but I allow reason to temper my emotions. I also have the desire to carve my own life path but allow external forces (eg. society, friends and family) to weigh in on what “a good life” means.
My classical virtue is Temperance. I’ve already touched on this briefly when discussing my primary values, but it goes to show how important moderation and self-restraint is to me. I’ve seen gluttony and greed negatively impact friends, family, and colleagues, and through those experiences I have come to determine that moderation has a great deal of value in my life.
From the Clarifying Your Values exercise, I determined that the following five values are most important to me: honesty/integrity, excitement, respect, experimentation, and teamwork. I believe that most of these values correlate closely with both my primary and classical values. I say most because one of the values I chose – excitement – doesn’t quite mesh with the values of temperance and sensibility. It does, however, fit into my value of autonomy. I desire a life dictated by following the beat of my own drum, and my decisions are often swayed by what excites me more (unless it negatively impacts others). Should I get my PMP or should I get my MBA in IT Management? A PMP is a valuable certification as a Project Manager, but the MBA opens up a great many more doors for career advancement. This reasoning excites me because I can see potential growth for myself. So here I am, taking a course in Ethical Leadership on my way to getting an MBA. The rest of the values – honesty/integrity, respect, experimentation, and teamwork – lend directly to my primary and classical values in that they are all ways in which I can moderate a situation.
3. ELI Risk
Of the negative aspects listed in my ELI, I identified most with the designated risk: calculating. I absolutely do try to turn everything into a logical equation. But the assessment is correct in that humanity cannot be encompassed in a mathematical formula. We are so much more complex than that, and I have the tendency to lose sight in that. What makes sense or works for me may not be as effective in practice for someone else.
a. Risk Mitigation
Three steps I can take to mitigate my tendency to be calculating are as follows:
i. Get to Know My Team
It may seem like a simple action to take but getting to know the people with whom I’m working can make a substantial difference in how I interact with and view them. The more I know about someone, the less likely I am to reduce them to a single equation. I’ll be able to understand the nuances of a decision because I’ll be aware of how that decision might impact others.
ii. Seek Feedback (and Be Open to It)
Another way that I can mitigate this risk is to frequently seek feedback from my colleagues and leadership regarding my interaction with them. Since I’ve gotten to know my the people with whom I work, I will most likely have informed them of my tendency to be a bit calculating, and they will be able (and comfortable) to provide feedback whenever I slip too far down the path of number crunching. This will also create a sense of accountability as well as an external viewpoint so I don’t get too stuck in my own head.
iii. Be Patient with Myself (and Forgiving)
A third way that I can mitigate this risk is to recognize that I will not be perfect and to accept it when I fail. In this area, two plus two doesn’t always equal four, and I need to be okay with it when I fall short of goals. This will be especially important as I work through the first two mitigations. I cannot expect myself to perform at one hundred percent accuracy without the full picture, and gathering information and opening communication pathways can be challenging tasks.
4. ELI Application
The Ethical Lens Inventory Assessment has been a valuable tool that I have now added to my arsenal, and I look forward to referring to it in the future to see how it changes as I progress in my career and bolster my knowledge further. Between now and then, however, I will utilize the information I’ve gleaned from the ELI both in personal and professional realms not only to monopolize on the strengths but to counteract the potential pitfalls. I will need to encourage within myself to value the individual attributes of my team members while also tempering my emotions with reason. On the flip side, however, I will need to remain diligent regarding the challenges I will likely face, whether it’s failing to be mindful or being too calculating when faced with conflict. There are so many opportunities for me to utilize what I’ve learned through this assessment, and I genuinely look forward to it.
Gawronski, B., & Beer, J. S. (2017). What makes moral dilemma judgments “utilitarian” or “deontological”? Social Neuroscience, 12(6), 626–632. https://doi-org.wgu.idm.oclc.org/10.1080/17470919.2016.1248787
Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2019). Consequentialism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019). Stanford, CA: Metaphysics Research Lab. Retrieved from: https://stanford.library.sydney.edu.au/entries/consequentialism/
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