Business Ethics: Personal Moral Intelligence Development
The first question that I asked when I came into this class was "What is moral intelligence?" I knew because of the people I talked to about the class that the question would be answered, but I did not understand how thoroughly. I have now learned that the best definition I could find of the concept came in the first chapter of Moral Intelligence: Enhancing Business Performance and Leadership Success by Lennick and Kiel (2007). The statement was that, "moral intelligence directs our other forms of intelligence to do something worthwhile." This was significant because, although I have realized the benefits of having both what is generally regarded as intelligence and emotional intelligence, I have never seriously considered the benefits of moral intelligence. Through this class I have learned not only what it is in detail, but specifically what my strengths and weaknesses in this area are. From this information I have written a personal ethical code statement that I hope to use and grow with through my personal development.
The first part of this essay deals with my highest moral competency. After taking the Moral Competency Inventory (MCI, Lennick & Kiel, 2007), I found that I was highest in "telling the truth, acting consistently with principles." To me this means that I want to make sure that I am honest in whatever I do, and that besides being honest I do not allow my personal ethics to be compromised. Telling the truth can be difficult in some organizational settings when it is negative. Unfortunately there will be times when the truth is not popular and it is easiest to placate someone, whether they be boss or employee, because of a desire not to hurt feelings or make sure that people are not afraid of their employment prospects. Lennick & Kiel (2007, 82) says, "When times are tough, leaders need to be able to tell the truth while providing people with real reasons for hope and optimism." In the Compromise Trap Doty (2007, 25) says, "Every time you cross a line or betray a commitment you take a bite out of your self-respect, your confidence, and your passion for what you are doing." Thus, I am glad that this is my highest competency because I will search for ways to tell the truth no matter what it is. Being able to find ways to give truthful answers to subordinates and bosses alike may be a challenge at times, but it will be a worthwhile exercise in the long-term.
One thing that the book Moral Intelligence talks about is the ability to "lead with the truth" (Lennick & Kiel, 2007, 82). It is their belief that there is never a time when the truth is not the correct path. I also hold this value. They give several examples about what it is like to tell the truth and how it can be done even in the most difficult circumstances. One manager was forced to tell her senior managers a difficult truth that could have led to them all leaving, but they trusted in her integrity and stayed with the company (Lennick & Kiel, 2007, 84). I have not been tested to this degree as of yet, but I hope that I could maintain the same strength that she showed. I have been tested in minor ways, such as whether to cheat on a test or try to get out of some minor situation by lying, but I have consistently been able to maintain my honesty though it sometimes offered difficult consequences.
Unfortunately, Lennick and Kiel (2007) also point out times when it is important not to divulge the entire truth (85). I sat a long time looking at this portion of the text and wondered what my reaction would be to similar situations as those described in the book. In a life or death situation, it would be able to tell a falsehood, but in a business situation it would be more difficult. My dilemma would be whether I would rather honor my place in the company or my own set of values. I believe that it would be important to understand all of the implications of the action before I could decide. Knowing that I always try to be honest would make people trust me, and it would be difficult to lie when I was also trusted for my ability to tell the truth. I learn from this that every situation must be taken in context. There are times when the good of the organization requires that employees, especially managers, not divulge certain information, even to subordinates. In this situation, I believe that I would have to follow the company that I have sworn fealty to, but it would be difficult
The next section of the paper has to do with my knowledge of my lowest moral competency. I have to admit that I was not so pleased with this part of the assignment. I feel that I am a moral and resolute person, so discovering the moral weaknesses that I suffer was not encouraging. I learned from the MCI that I was worst when it came to the ability to let go of my mistakes. At first, this did not sound like it was all that bad. I was actually happy when I learned that this was my lowest moral competency, but I learned that it is a very negative trait that could severely affect my future work performance. It first occurred to me when I thought about some of the lessons learned from the Trevino and Nelson (2009) text. They talked extensively about what went wrong in the failure of the United States, and then the world, financial system in 2008. They talked about how the housing market had so inflated the price of homes that when they fell many people were forced to sell their homes and find new places to live (Trevino & Nelson, 2009, 6). If my family were faced with a mistake I had made like this, I have no idea how I would recover. I would, of course, have to face the truth, but it would be difficult for me overcome the feeling of what I had done to my family.
I needed to interview someone for this paper, so I talked to my friend Xing Xu. He said that I did have a problem with this and reminded me of a time when we had been going to someone's house for an important meeting, and I had neglected to get the directions. While we were driving, I realized my mistake and I told him about it, but I found it difficult to forget what I had done to him afterward. It may seem trivial to most people to forget the directions to a place and be forced to go back home, buit it was a big deal to my friend, so I had a hard time forgiving myself even though he forgave me (Xu, 2010).
One point that I found encouraging in the discussion about business ethics was that it has been proven that "people do have predispositions to behave ethically or unethically" (Trevino & Nelson, 2009, 14). This means that if a person has a general leaning either toward or against an ethical response then they will generally always lean that way. I find this to be encouraging in my moral development. I do not like to lie or to treat people falsely in any way. My fault is that I treat myself falsely, and that I affect other people because of that personal treatment. However, I feel that I do act ethically as a rule. This means that it should be relatively easy to turn this negative aspect around.
Personal Ethical Code
In the final part of the paper, I need to use all that I have learned to determine what my personal ethical code is. I need to use all of the readings that I have done, plus the information that I have taken from the MCI and find out what I want my values, principles and beliefs to be. This is an important exercise because I do not want to write something for a class and then forget it as I go into the world. I want to set up a code that has future meaning, and it is something that I can grow on.
In reading I find that "Codes vary substantially in length, content, and readability, but they are generally perceived as the main road map, the ground rules for ethical conduct" (Trevino & Nelson, 2007, 332). I would like to first examine what other s have done with their own ethical code and see who has the best ideas. I would then like to decide for myself, given my strengths and weaknesses, what I hope to be as I develop morally.
I first need to take a look at what Lennick and Kiel (2007) identified as the four major…