Strategic Leadership and Decision-Making: Ethics and Values

Topics: Ethics, Decision making, Management Pages: 10 (3428 words) Published: August 20, 2010




APRIL, 2010

Values and ethics are central to any organization. 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; second, we will take a look at work ethics; third we will look into strategic leadership and decision making; fourth we take a closer look into the positive and negative leadership climates and how they influence work ethics; fifth we will see the essence of participative management on ethical standards in an organisation; sixth we will explore the actions strategic leaders can take to build ethical climates in their organizations; and then we will draw out some recommendations before we finally conlude. THE CHARACTER OF VALUES AND ETHICS

Values are what we, as a profession, judge to be right. They are more than words-they are the moral, ethical, and professional attributes of character … Values can be defined as those things that are important to or valued by someone. That someone can be an individual or, collectively, an organization. One place where values are important is in relation to vision. One of the imperatives for organizational vision is that it must be based on and consistent with the organization's core values. In one example of a vision statement we'll look at later, the organization's core values - in this case, integrity, professionalism, caring, teamwork, and stewardship- were deemed important enough to be included with the statement of the organization's vision. 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. Perhaps more important, they put all members "on the same sheet of music" with regard to what all members as a body consider important. Values are the embodiment of what an organization stands for, and should be the basis for the behavior of its members. However, what if members of the organization do not share and have not internalized the organization's values? Obviously, a disconnect between individual and organizational values will be dysfunctional. Additionally, an organization may publish one set of values, perhaps in an effort to push forward a positive image, while the values that really guide organizational behavior are very different. When there is a disconnect between stated and operating values, it may be difficult to determine what is "acceptable." For example, two of the Army's organizational values include candor and courage. One might infer that officers are encouraged to "have the courage of their convictions" and speak their disagreements openly. In some cases, this does work; in others it does not. The same thing works at the level of the society. The principles by which the society functions do not necessarily conform to the principles stated. Those in power may covertly allow the use of force to suppress debate in order to remain in power. ("Death squads" are an example.) In some organizations, dissent may be rewarded by termination-the organizational equivalent of "death squad" action. In others, a group member may be ostracized or expelled. Group members quickly learn the operating values, or they don't survive for long. To the extent they differ from stated values, the organization will not only suffer from doing things less effectively, but also from the cynicism of its members, who have yet another reason for mistrusting the leadership, or doubting its wisdom. VALUES PROVIDE THE BASIS FOR JUDGMENTS ABOUT WHAT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE ORGANIZATION TO SUCCEED IN ITS CORE BUSINESS. TO BEHAVE ETHICALLY IS TO BEHAVE IN A MANNER THAT IS CONSISTENT WITH WHAT IS GENERALLY CONSIDERED TO...

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