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Professional Ethics, Values and Career Success

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Professional Ethics, Values, and Career Success:
United States Presidents
Learning Team C
Adrian Munoz, Delores Oniyide-Smith and McKenzie Linstrom
University of Phoenix
Professional Values, Ethics, and Career Success

United States Presidents Values and ethics are central to any organization; those operating in the national security arena are no exception. What exactly do we mean by values and ethics? Both are extremely broad terms, and we need to focus in on the aspects most relevant for strategic leaders and decision makers. What we will first discuss is the distinctive nature of ethics for public officials; second, the forces which influence the ethical behavior of individuals in organizations; and third, explore the actions strategic leaders can take to build ethical climates in their organizations. Values and Ethics

Values can be defined as those things that are important to or valued by someone. They include integrity, professionalism, caring, teamwork, and stewardship. When values are shared by all members of an organization, they are extraordinarily important tools for making judgments, assessing probable outcomes of contemplated actions, and choosing among alternatives. Values are what we, as professionals, judge to be right. They are more than words-they are the moral, ethical, and professional attributes of character. Values are the embodiment of what an organization stands for, and should be the basis for the behavior of its members.

Ethics is behavior in a manner that is consistent with what is generally considered to be right or moral. Most of an individual 's ethical development occurs before entering an organization. The influence of family, church, community, and school will determine individual values.

There are three qualities individuals must possess to make ethical decisions. The first is the ability to recognize ethical issues and to reason through the ethical consequences of decisions. The ability to see second and third order effects, one of the elements of strategic thinking, is very important. The second is the ability to look at alternative points of view, deciding what is right in a particular set of circumstances. The third is the ability to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty; making a decision on the best information available. (_Strategic Leader Development Inventory_. 1993. Alexandria, VA: The Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences). Trust

York Willbern, in an article entitled "Types and Levels of Public Morality," argues for six types or levels of morality (or ethics). The six levels he differentiates are: basic honesty and conformity to law; conflicts of interest; service orientation and procedural fairness; the ethic of democratic responsibility; the ethic of public policy determination; and the ethic of compromise and social integration. Honesty and Conformity to Law - The ethic to be morally bound, to tell the truth, to keep promises, to respect the person and the property of others, and to abide by the requirements of the law.

Conflict of Interest - The ethic to ensure that the public interest comes first. Service Orientation and Procedural Fairness - The ethic to follow established procedures.

The ethic to carry out the will of the people -

The Ethic of Public Policy Determination

The ethic to make moral policies. This level deals with the necessity for compromise in a society. (National Defense University, Strategic Leadership & Decision Making, pt. 4, Ch. 15).

Three sources of professional values and ethics are personal, social and religious. In a professional setting, those three sources are the strongest ideals that guide an individual’s decisions. These values and ethics are developed and taught beginning at childhood.

A good example of these three professional values and ethics is our 44th President Barrack Obama. President Obama came into office with our nation at war, a collapsed housing and financial system and an increasingly high unemployment rate. Circumstances where most people of lesser fiber would willingly and faithfully commit themselves to fixing.

It is a time of survival for our nation that will call for hard decisions to get us out of this despair. The decisions facing the president are going to be based on his cabinet advisors and his personal values, the social acceptance of the “right thing” to do, and the religious belief that the faith he possesses will guide his decisions. In President Barrack Obama’s inaugural speech, he stated “We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness” The question of right and wrong has been a battle since the beginning of time. In today’s professional world the question of right and wrong continues with ethics and professional values. The President of the United States is at the forefront of the professional world and everyone looks to him/her as a role model of good ethics and professional values. John F. Kennedy is known for many great accomplishments in his short-lived Presidency, but he is also known for his connections with the mob and his affair with many women, including Marilyn Monroe. William J. Clinton was the 42nd President of the United States. Clinton presided over the longest period of peace-time economic expansion in American history, which included a balanced budget and a reported federal surplus. Based on Congressional accounting rules, at the end of his presidency Clinton reported a surplus of $559 billion (Wikipedia, 2009). Unfortunately, he will always be remembered for his impeachment trial involving Monica Lewinski. He could have saved himself a lot of trouble by abiding by ethical standards and professional values. Tolstoy stated, “Washington was a typical American, Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country--bigger than all the Presidents together”(Griessman, 2000, p. 12). Abraham Lincoln (the 16th U.S. President) was the epitome of good professional values and ethical standards. He stood by his ethics and values even when America did not. “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free”(Griessman, 2000, p. 24). Lincoln spoke at Springfield, Illinois on June 16, 1858. He freed the slaves not just because of the civil war but because he believed it to be the right thing to do (Griessman, 2000). After more than a century and a half, Lincoln is remembered for his good ethics and values.

Richard M. Nixon was good at foreign relations with China and he also ended Vietnam. But he will go down in history as a “Crook” and one of the worst U.S. Presidents of all time. Nixon was known for his perspiring upper lip and his paranoia (Lifemaker, 2009). He was in fear of the Democrats and losing power. He believed he was above the law as President and thus his illegal wire-tapping and cover-up came to be known as Watergate. This scandal led up to the resignation of the 37th President. If Nixon would have put professional values and ethics ahead of his power hungry paranoia there never would have been a Watergate, and his professional career would not have ended with scandal (Lifemaker, 2009). “Since Watergate, numerous reforms were instituted to protect the public from official malfeasance"(Lifemaker, 2009, p.1). Campaign finance regulations and conflict of interest guidelines were enforced to protect the people. America now had a cynical and angry outlook on the professional values and ethics of the U.S. presidency. Professional values and ethics have a big impact on the career of the President. Abraham Lincoln left a strong heritage of good ethics and values. Bill Clinton will always have to live with his impeachment trial and the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Richard M. Nixon resigned as President due to the Watergate investigation thus losing his career and reputation. Ethics and professional values are there for a reason. They provided guidelines for everyone, including the President, to follow. Establishing moral principles means determining the core values which should guide the organization. O 'Brien suggests four for consideration: localness, merit, openness, and leanness. By localness, he means adopting a philosophy of pushing power down to the lowest level possible, and encouraging initiative and autonomy. By merit, he means directing actions toward the overall goals of the organization, and what is best for all. By openness, he means being forthright and honest in all dealings. And by leanness, he means efficient use of resources and economies when possible. References Griessman, Gene (2000). Words of Lincoln. New York: Columbine.
Lifemaker, Dr. (2009, July 30). Nixon [YahooAnswers]. Cited from anwer.yahoo.com course Web site.
National Defense University, Strategic Leadership & Decision- Making, pt. 4, Ch. 15
Obama, B.H. (2009). Inaugural Address. Retrieved July 28, 2009
From http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/inaugural-address/
Strategic Leader Development Inventory. (1993). Alexandria, VA: The Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences.
Wikipedia. (2009). Bill Clinton [Bill Clinton]. Cited from wikipedia.org course Web site.

References: Griessman, Gene (2000). Words of Lincoln. New York: Columbine. Lifemaker, Dr. (2009, July 30). Nixon [YahooAnswers]. Cited from anwer.yahoo.com course Web site. National Defense University, Strategic Leadership & Decision- Making, pt. 4, Ch. 15 Obama, B.H. (2009). Inaugural Address. Retrieved July 28, 2009 From http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/inaugural-address/ Strategic Leader Development Inventory. (1993). Alexandria, VA: The Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences. Wikipedia. (2009). Bill Clinton [Bill Clinton]. Cited from wikipedia.org course Web site.

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