Ethics in the Real World

All posts tagged Ethics in the Real World

The Ethics of Heightened Tensions

Published August 4, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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With all the bad news and negative images in the world, it may help explain why many people are feeling overwhelmed with emotions and behave defensively. In addition, most folks are dealing with pressures from work, expectations from colleagues, commitments to loved ones, financial obligations, relationship issues, and so forth. As tensions continue to build, more and more people are unable to operate at full capacity, and in extreme cases, many with low tolerance levels respond quickly with short explosive fuses that can result in destructive and even violent acts.

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People that react from fear and panic, initially respond from a fight or flight state of mind. That is when the reptilian part of the brain takes over which instinctively goes into survival mode. It is from this heightened state that typically many individuals engage in behavior with little or no regard for ethical outcomes. Their only objective in operating from this attitude is a successful outcome. In other words, irrational responses are more likely to occur when decisions are made quickly from an extreme emotional mental state, rather than allowing a moment to think of a situation appropriate response before taking action.

There are exceptions, of course, when life and death situations occur. A split second decision in an emergency may be crucial. Under these conditions taking a moment to think rationally may not be an option. However, in other instances, when pressure is mounting in an individual’s personal or business life, in addition to their feeling that the world is in complete disarray, the sensation of hopelessness can prompt some individuals to behave irrationally; giving in to unethical or destructive behavior.

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It seems logical, that especially during those times when we feel that: (a) the world seems unfair, (b) an escalating amount of respected leaders are caught behaving unreasonably, and (c) more people than not, seem to be engaged in misconduct, that is when we really need to get involved and help make positive changes. Not just in our immediate environment, collectively, we also need to become more cognizant of our contributions as a global family. In other words, take accountability when we make mistakes, bad judgement calls, or hurt others. It also requires that we engage in behavior that reflects mindful, responsible citizenship in our business affairs and home environments.

One way to achieve this is to help cultivate an ethical climate by making conscious choices to conduct ourselves reasonably with common sense and compassion for others. For example, when we encounter people or an institution engaged in unethical behavior like cheating, stealing, lying, or illegal conduct, we are faced with one of three choices: (a) expose the behavior, (b) ignore the behavior, or (c) participate and condone the behavior. If we choose to expose the behavior, we risk being chastised as whistle blowers, but by courageously moving forward we can help achieve ethical outcomes. If we ignore the behavior, we avoid the risk of not fitting in as a player at the corrupted culture and save everyone involved the embarrassment of getting caught. However, by keeping silent, we are helping to enable unethical behavior. If, on the other hand, we choose to condone the behavior, even participate in it, we are not only contributing to an unethical culture, we are gambling that we will not get caught or face the consequences for engaging in misconduct.

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This is where ethics comes into play. In my book, Ethics in the Real World (2013), I explained that individuals who make the best ethical choices do not engage or support strategies that include lying, cheating, stealing, or illegal conduct.  The truth is, most people are not interested in conducting business with others they do not trust. Furthermore, leaders who lack ethics and cultivate a culture of fear are not likely to earn respect from their staff or the community for that matter (Berry, 2013). When individuals, whether in respected positions of power or not, use tactics of intimidation, illegal conduct, misdirection, or get caught in blatant lies, they jeopardize tarnishing their reputation and credibility permanently.

Thich Nhat Hanh (2013) compares all our emotions to weather events—they blow in, remain for a time and move on. He suggests that if we stop all our thinking when these storm fronts of strong emotions develop (and I will add “refraining from verbalizing and directing toxicity towards others” to this list), we can help prevent fueling the fire. Instead, we can choose to apply mindful practices like breathing and walking strategies as coping techniques, that will not only calm down our breath when we are feeling out of control, they also serve to help calm the body and mind (Hanh, 2012).

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The truth is, we all have strengths and weaknesses and will continue to face many temptations throughout our journey in life. Although it may take only one person to help shift a corrupted culture, it still requires others to follow suit. Taking all this information into consideration can help us understand more clearly why it makes sense that during those times when we are feeling most vulnerable, confused, and overwhelmed with emotions, that including a component of ethics in the decision making process can help us achieve outcomes we are content to live with.

On Wednesday’s post, we will take a closer look at what neuroscience students from Brown University discovered recently about mindful practices. Until then … Have a great week everyone! Be mindful and stay organized!

“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.” —Mahatma Gandhi

References:

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

Ethics as a Managerial Skill

Published July 7, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

Before we begin this week’s post we’d like to say:

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And now … this week’s post, Ethics as a Managerial Skill

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The media is saturated with stories about ethical misconduct and reckless behavior from leaders. This has led to such outcomes like: (a) corporate and government shutdowns; (b) drug addicted politicians that abuse their power;  (c) billionaires whose actions are destructive and appear immoral; and (d) respected officials in religious and educational institutions that use their power to abuse innocent victims. Has this occurred because of outdated views on leadership? Do many people in elite positions lack education on what defines moral misconduct? Have they lost their sense of right and wrong behavior because of the unlimited power that comes from their status? Did they develop and nurture a narcissistic personality disorder due to their elite position where greed becomes a sickness that drives their internal engines toward abusive behavior and misconduct? Were these leaders corrupted because of little or no oversight and did not face punishment or consequences for poor outcomes? Regardless of the reasons behind misconduct, what all these components have in common is leadership that did not  exercise ethical behavior.

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In his book, The No Asshole Rule, management and engineering professor at Stanford University, Robert Sutton (2007), suggests that many managers intentionally use intimidation as a strategy to gain and maintain power. However, in most situations, he contends the asshole simply does not get the best results. Furthermore, psychological studies show that abusive bosses reduce productivity, stifle creativity, and can cause high rates of absenteeism, company theft, and turnover. In fact, according to one study, 25 percent of bullied employees and 20 percent of those who witness bullying, will eventually quit because of it (Sutton, 2007). Although many managers and leaders are effective and productive in their roles, those who reveal the following characteristics: (a) behavior with cultural views that were developed from distorted views on morality, (b) a code of ethics based on unhealthy levels of narcissistic behavior, and (c) severe limitations in right and wrong behavior, are typically unable to acknowledge a problem even exists. In short, any misconduct that occurs will not change unless the topic of ethical conduct is addressed and each staff member comprehends and acknowledges, what constitutes right and wrong behavior as well as what is expected from each employee in any given situation at the organization.

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In my eBook Ethics in the Real World (2013), just released on audiobook, I point out that individuals in leadership positions can become dangerous without consequences or have someone to answer to. In addition, those in positions of power, for instance, desperate to achieve their own pursuits, do not typically operate within the rules of reciprocity. This usually occurs because of leaders who have carefully crafted and cultivated an environment of enablers (Berry, 2013). Sometimes the misconduct is exposed and the guilty parties are persecuted. Many times however, it is never exposed.

On Wednesday we will identify three main managerial groups within an organization and take a closer look at the role each one plays in sculpting an ethical culture. Until then, keep building your leadership skills and stay organized!

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Force always attracts men of low morality. – Albert Einstein

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References:

Baack, D. (2012). Organizational Behavior. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Sutton, R. (2007). The no asshole rule: Builind a Civilized Workplace and surving one that isn’t. New York, NY: Warner Business Books.

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What is the Right Fit?

Published June 20, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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For many individuals, the search for the ideal partner, group or organization to work for will most likely not happen in their first experience. If it does, most experts would agree it was a fluke! According to Baack (2012) it takes time and several goes at jobs to discover what that individual really wants from that partner, group or company (Baack, 2012). For example, an individual that values social interaction the most, will seek a person, group, or consider working at a firm where they can have that kind of experience. A person on the other hand, who is only interested in climbing the corporate ladder to achieve personal wealth and status, will pursue opportunities that can fulfill those desires.

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When an individual finds that perfect person-organizational fit, they are more likely to encounter many positive benefits from that experience. Most strategists will agree that part of career management requires a certain level of personal awareness with respect to what an individual believes is important. After that has been identified, then they can move forward to seek the best organization that will meet their criteria. In other words, conducting an assessment on one’s self is part of finding the right fit. In truth, how can you find the right fit, if you don’t really know what you want?

In my eBook, Ethics in the Real World (2013) I share several examples from my own career experiences of some of the barriers I discovered from my own inabilities. Not recognizing these barriers at the time, presented obstacles when making the right fit with partners and organizations. During my research work, I also discovered that mismatches typically occur for some of the following reasons: (a) a lack of self-awareness, (b) not having the knowledge, or a higher level of education to provide the tools needed to comprehend the right course to pursue, and (c) not understanding all the components required to create a fertile environment to help achieve that perfect organizational fit. What is just as important to acknowledge, however, is that while the search to find and secure the ideal connection is significant to our health and well being, we must also remember to make the best of each situation we confront along the way, because the learning experience of the journey is just as important as reaching the destination itself.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend everyone and stay organized!

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If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. – Albert Einstein

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References:

Self-Esteem and Self -Efficacy

Published June 6, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Our perceptions influence how we respond to the environment. In other words, our individuality helps shape the way we view ourselves and others on a personal and professional level. Bach (2013) suggests that these evaluations play a role in our ability to achieve successful outcomes as well as how we emotionally respond to the people we interact with. (Bach, 2013).

According to Gecas (1982) personality theorists use the term “self” to identify the center of an individual’s conscious existence. It is the self that defines our psychological reality or how we view the world (Gecas, 1982).  An awareness of the self, or the way a person views their self, means that they have a realization of their physical, social, spiritual or moral being. For example, when a person has a strong sense of their unique talents and skills, this means they have a well-developed self-concept. A person who has a less developed self-concept, may spend minimal time focused on personal characteristics or how they differ from others.

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Self-esteem on the other hand, is how a person evaluates their worth. Self-efficacy reveals a person’s beliefs about their ability to successfully complete an assignment or challenge. McKay and Fanning (2000) posit that self-esteem is essential for psychological survival and is an emotional sine qua non. In other words, without some measure of self-worth, life can be enormously painful, with many basic needs going unmet (Fanning & McKay, 2000). How well a person operates or functions in a society, organizational, or family environment, is guided by how an individual exhibits their self-worth.

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For example, in my eBook, Ethics in the Real World, I reveal that a person with issues of low self esteem, may be too timid to voice their views or offer assistance for fear of being misunderstood or worse, ridiculed. As a result, they may not feel worthy of offering their opinion and are often reluctant to participate in meetings or other social events. That kind of behavior can hinder an individual from furthering career aspirations in an organization or even deter a beneficial experience (Berry, 2013). In short, low self esteem can also play a role in how well a person thinks they can perform at any given task.

For instance, I recall many times in my youth when an adult supervisor asked me to complete a task. Some supervisors were intimidating and strict, putting high expectations on the outcome. If there are predetermined deadlines or punishment for not completing the task as that leader wants it done, it increases stress levels which in turn has an impact on performance levels and outcomes. In other words, under pressure, an individual loses confidence which can then have a profound affect on that individual’s self-efficacy.  On the other hand, a person with high self-esteem and confidence is more likely to volunteer their input without taking personal offense to positive or negative feedback. The bottom line is that an individual’s concept of self plays a role in their development and how they define ethical behavior.

That’s all for this week! Have a great weekend everyone …  and keep organized!

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Uncertainty will always be a part of the taking charge process. – Harold Geneen

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References:

Baack, D. (2012). Organizational Behavior. San Diego: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Gecas, V. (1982). The self-concept. In R. H. Turner & J. F. Short, Jr. (Eds.), Annual Review of Sociology. Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews.

Fanning, M. M. (2000). Self-Esteem. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.