I am a graduate student at Claremont Lincoln University, working in the Masters of Ethical Leadership program. This e-portfolio is one of the projects for fulfilling the requirements of the Masters’ program. This portfolio includes reflections of each course, describes what I have learned from the program and includes my CAPstone Project paper. Enjoy!
Inspire. Encourage. Empower. I want to inspire others to think of themselves extraordinarily. I want to encourage others to try what they never thought they could. I want to empower others to become more than they ever dreamed.
My mission is to: Inspire, encourage and empower others so they can live joyfully and beyond the extraordinary. My core values consist of:
- Love beautifully
- Others before myself
My mom is the force that influenced my greater sense of self, and love and others. The thing that is so difficult, is that I didn’t realize just how much of an impact she had on me, until she was gone. Perhaps the awareness is heightened after loss… the way she was, the words she spoke, the things she did… all suddenly became so meaningful.
I remember when I was young she taught me to do things on my own at a very young age. I walked or biked everywhere I went or I didn’t go. I had chores to do around the house every day and I was paid if I did them correctly and I wasn’t if I slacked-off. If I did something wrong, I had to apologize on my own and was grounded for weeks. If I wanted money I worked for it, and I started babysitting at nine years old so I could buy clothes. I had my first real job at 12 (with a work permit) and have worked ever-since. I knew very early on that if I wanted my life to be a certain way, I would have to strive to attain it. She didn’t give things to me, she made sure I worked for what I had and knew the value of things and the difference between what was necessary and what was not. The day I graduated high-school, I left home. I went two hours away… I wanted to be on my own. I found a place to live, found a two jobs, enrolled in college full-time and after about nine months, I bought my first car: an old jeep. Before that, I walked and took the bus everywhere. I loved that jeep on rainy days! I survived on my own and because of that time… I know that no matter what happens in my life, I will always be fine. And that sense of self, that sense of strength is priceless. I didn’t make a connection to my mother though, until later in life. She didn’t live on her own, she didn’t even drive until my dad taught her when she was 27. I wouldn’t say she encouraged me to leave home with nothing, but she didn’t stop me and she didn’t let my dad intervene. And that was her way of supporting my endeavor.
She told me to get a degree, which is something she never finished because my sister was born while my mom was pursuing her degree. She never finished as result. She chose to sacrifice her life to raise her three children. She was so smart, she read so many books on every subject and she was an amazing artist. She had so much potential, but she put her children and her family before herself. She never complained once. I was the first in my entire family, ever, to get a bachelor’s degree. My daughter was born early… three weeks before I graduated, but I finished. My older sister and older brother soon followed and obtained their degrees. And now, beyond my wildest dreams I am moving forward with my Masters Degree. I can’t help but think my mother had a lot to do with my acceptance into CLU.
My mother did not work, I don’t know how she did it, but she stayed home with us and denied herself a career and financial freedom because she loved us so beautifully, that nothing else mattered to her. After all of this was modeled for me and spoken to me and shown to me with great love and care, I became the person I am today. I am someone who values self, love and others.
Ethics involves learning what is right or wrong, and then doing the right thing — but “the right thing” is not nearly as straightforward as conveyed in a great deal of ethics literature. Most ethical dilemmas (especially in the workplace) are not simply a matter of “Should Bob steal from Jack?” or “Should Jack lie to his boss?” Many ethicists assert there’s always a right thing to do based on moral principle, and others believe the right thing to do depends on the situation — ultimately it’s up to the individual. Many philosophers consider ethics to be the “science of conduct.”
Ethics includes the fundamental ground rules by which we live our lives. Philosophers have been discussing ethics for at least 2500 years, since the time of Socrates and Plato. Many ethicists consider emerging ethical beliefs to be “state of the art” legal matters, (what becomes an ethical guideline today is often translated to a law, regulation or rule tomorrow). Values which guide how we ought to behave are considered moral values. Statements around how these values are applied are called moral or ethical principles. The following combines the values and principles I am discovering to be the most important in my life. My intra and interpersonal communication is built upon the foundation of these various principles and I am striving to apply them in all of my relationships, collaboration efforts through effective dialogue. As my social world evolves and I become more knowledgeable about components of effective and compassionate communication, I am working toward a leadership role based upon this ethical code.
When I find myself faced with a decision, I know it’s important to reflect upon my core values (and my organization’s core values if applicable) to make a decision that encompasses trust, respect, compassion and accountability. This process of self-awareness and reflection combined with sound moral reasoning (Shafer-Landau, 2014 Pg. 11) will lead me to doing what is right and just for everyone involved, under particular circumstances.
Coursework in this Master’s program required me to ponder, understand and articulate the roots of my unique core values and how they have evolved, and continue to evolve today. From this project, I learned that my late mother instilled those traits in me, such as loving kindness, putting others first and a strong sense of self. I was able to translate these cornerstone traits into those values I find to be most important to me, to guide me in my own journey. The following leadership philosophy describes those values and principles I hold to be important, not only in my personal life but also in my work life.
My personal core values are: trust, respect, and integrity. The following principles and statements include these values as applied in both personal and work life. Success, to me, is dependent on the trust and confidence I earn from my friends/family, employees, customers and shareholders. I can only gain credibility by adhering to commitments, displaying honesty and integrity, and reaching goals through honorable conduct. It is easy to say what I must do, but the proof is in my actions. Ultimately, I understand that I will be judged on what I do.
When considering any action, I am learning it is wise to ask: will this build trust and credibility? Will it help create an environment in which I can succeed over the long term? Is the commitment I am making one in which I can follow through? The only way I will maximize trust and credibility is by answering “yes” to those questions and by working every day to build trust and credibility.
We all deserve to live and work in an environment where we are treated with dignity, equality and respect. I must be committed to creating such an environment because it brings out the full potential in me and others, which, in turn, contributes directly to everyone’s success. I cannot afford to let anyone’s talents go to waste, including my own.
At home and at work, I want to feel comfortable, and want others to feel safe to speak his or her mind, particularly with respect to ethics concerns. Adults and leaders have a responsibility to create an open and supportive environment where family, friends and employees feel comfortable raising such questions. We all benefit tremendously when people can exercise their power to prevent mistakes or wrongdoing by asking the right questions at the right times.
It is important to point out that my organization will investigate all reported instances of questionable or unethical behavior. In every instance where improper behavior is found to have occurred, the company will take appropriate action. We will not tolerate retaliation against employees who raise genuine ethics concerns in good faith.
As a family leader and an organizational leader, I have the added responsibility for demonstrating, through actions, the importance of this code. In either environment, ethical behavior does not simply happen; it is the product of clear and direct communication of behavioral expectations, modeled from the top and demonstrated by example. Again, ultimately, my actions are what matters.
To make this code work, I must be responsible for promptly addressing ethical questions or concerns raised by others and for taking the appropriate steps to deal with such issues. I should not consider peoples’ ethics concerns as threats or challenges to my authority, but rather as another encouraged form of communication. At home and work I want the ethics dialogue to become a natural and on-going part of daily life.
My commitment to integrity begins with complying with laws, rules and regulations particularly in my work environment. Further, I must have an understanding of the company policies, laws, rules and regulations that apply to my specific role. If I am unsure of whether a contemplated action is permitted by law or organizational policy, I should seek the advice from the appropriate person/resource. I am responsible for preventing violations of law and for speaking up if I see possible violations.
I must avoid any relationship or activity that might impair, or even appear to impair, my ability to make objective and fair decisions. At times, I may be faced with situations where the actions I take on behalf of family and my organization may conflict with my own personal interests. I owe a duty to family and co-workers to advance its legitimate interests when the opportunity to do so arises. I must never use property or information for personal gain or personally take any opportunity that is discovered through my position.
At times, we are all faced with decisions we would rather not have to make and issues we would prefer to avoid. Sometimes, we hope that if we avoid confronting a problem, it will simply go away. I must have the courage to tackle the tough decisions and make difficult choices, secure in the knowledge that I am committed to doing the right thing. At times this will mean doing more than simply what the law requires. Merely because I can pursue a course of action legally does not mean I should do so. As the famous dictum, commonly attributed to Saint Augustine, has it: lex iniusta non est lex (unjust law is not law). When it comes to the best interest of people, there can be times when law or policy just doesn’t make sense. Many laws about Jews in Nazi Germany and many laws concerning women and blacks in early U.S. law were morally wrong. Many apartheid laws in South Africa were morally wrong. But there have also been government programs set up by law that simply mistakenly harmed the people they were intended to help, such as aspects of the welfare rules that ended up trapping people in poverty rather than assisting them to escape it.
Sometimes, doing what is right for others is far more important than programs, policies or profit. At times, I will be faced with a “right vs. right” situation as Joseph Badaracco addresses in his video and in his book “Defining Moments”. Badaracco gives some guidelines I find extremely helpful when I find myself in a right vs. right situation: 1) Analyze the situation carefully and accurately; 2) Be clear about values 3) Be keenly aware and sensitive to stakeholders; and 4) Weigh the long-term affects.
Although my guiding principles cannot address every issue or provide answers to every dilemma, they can define the spirit in which I intend to behave and do business. I am responsible for adhering to the values and standards I set forth for myself. If I am concerned about meeting these standards, I must seek counsel.
Integral to my organization’s success is our protection of confidential company information, as well as nonpublic information entrusted to us by employees, customers and other business partners. Confidential and proprietary information includes such things as pricing and financial data, customer names/addresses or nonpublic information about other companies, including current or potential supplier and vendors. We will not disclose confidential and nonpublic information without a valid business purpose and proper authorization.
Several key questions can help me to identify situations that may be unethical, inappropriate or illegal. I will use these questions as a guide in questionable situations:
- Does what I am doing comply with my guiding principles, ethical code and/or my organization’s company policies?
- Have I been asked to misrepresent information or deviate from normal procedure?
- Would I feel comfortable describing my decision at a staff meeting?
- How would it look if it made the headlines?
- Am I being loyal to my family, my company and myself?
- What would I tell my child to do?
- Is this the right thing to do?
According to Lawrence Kohlberg and his theory on the stages of moral development, I have moved into the Post Conventional Level, which means I have internalized moral principles (appropriate to my culture and faith). The questions above, which I will use as a guide, are a prime example of my own personal values and opinions, in addition to laws. My decisions will be in the best interest of society and “right” will be determined by my individual ethics. I am aware, that at times, the law may fall short of what I deem as “right”.
One of the most important discoveries in this Master’s Program is the understanding that there is no widely-agreed upon definition for what it means to act morality. There is no master rule book or litmus test in which one can refer in difficult situations. One has to be guided by one’s own values, principles and code of conduct, which, are only acquired through trial and error, the advice of experts, and through a deeper understanding. All of this is influenced by one’s culture or social world. Understanding that there is not one moral rule book and that my decisions will be influenced greatly by the components of the individual circumstance and those impacted, is somewhat liberating and realistic. I no longer feel such pressure to have the perfect answer every time. I now understand that ethical pluralism is a valid concept and as long as I use my core values, and sound moral reasoning when making difficult ethical decisions, and take action accordingly, then I will land well. Shafer-Landau discusses that moral understanding can only be gained through training, experience and practice. Aristotle shares this thought, discussing that virtue is not inborn and it takes time to acquire. In addition, a wisdom must be built, over time, and one must be able to use this wisdom to direct ethical decisions and actions. We can be the most kind and generous people alive, “but without wisdom, these traits will only lead to appropriate action occasionally” (Shafer-Landau 2014 pp. 259). The Code of Ethics I have developed with the help of my coursework will serve as a welcome guide and friend when I am faced with difficult decisions. I need core values, sound moral reasoning, and the guidance of wisdom in my actions, to make the appropriate decisions and do the right thing.
Alanis Business Academy. (2013). Video: Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUqT8IHCeLE.
Badaracco, J. (2014). Video: Joseph Badaracco– John Shad Professor, Harvard Business School. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vtakusRkso.
Lama, Dalai. (2008). Video: Dalai Lama’s Guide to Happiness. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUEkDc_LfKQ.
Dell’Olio, A. J., & Simon, C. J. (Eds.) (2010). Introduction to Ethics: A reader. Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield.
Gert, B. (2007). Common Morality. New York: Oxford University Press.
Shafer-Landau. R. (2014). The Fundamentals of Ethics (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2001). The Nature of Law. Retrieved from: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/lawphil-nature/.