Ethics or simple honesty is the building blocks upon which our entire society is based, and business is part of our society, and it’s integral to the practice of being able to conduct business, that you have a set of honest standards.
– Kerry Stokes
Let me begin by asking you, What are ethics ? Can they be defined as doing the right thing or doing something right ? Are they a set of rules that one has to strictly abide by ? or are they just guidelines, which we may or may not follow or implement when, where and how they seem fit. As we all know by now that there no one straight forward definition for ethics. The word itself is referred to by many in a very incognisant manner.
So let us see if we can try to define ethics or being ethical from a scientific point of view. There are a few theories that we can use to help us understand the word, ethics. The theories that I found helped me best understand what ethics means are as follows, the first being the ‘2 factor theory’. This theory is by Frederick Herzberg. The theory tells us that there are two motivators, which are extrinsic and intrinsic, which contribute directly towards employee motivation, which in turn directly impacts employee productivity.The extrinsic factors being those which are tangible such as job security, salary, fringe benefits, etc. The intrinsic being intangible factors such, recognition, relationships and growth potential. Now, intrinsic motivators tend to create motivation when they are present, whereas extrinsic motivators tend to reduce motivation when they are absent (Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, 2016). So a leader who has a good understanding of this theory would try to make sure that the intrinsic motivating factors are always present as to encourage the employees, keep the company’s productivity at a high. But does that make him/her an ethical leader ? If so can anyone be an ethical leader just by having access to the right theories ?
Let us have a look at the other I would like to talk about as Herzberg’s theory doesn’t clearly define what being ethical means. The other theory I would like to talk about is the 4V model of ethical leadership by Dr. Bill Grace . This model focuses mainly on the 4 key components of the theory to explain what being ethical means. The 4 key components are,
Values and vision, which identify the group. They give the group purpose and direction. Keeping the values and vision is the most essential dimension of leadership. Giving voice to values and vision brings any group its dynamic. Any concerted, effective movement by a group toward the realization of its vision requires the articulation of vision and values in practical, understandable terms. Effective leadership requires the ability to give voice to the values and vision. Virtue is a blend of principle, sensitivity to relationships, and commitment to the common good. So now we are starting to have some more clarity on what exactly the aspects are that form being an ethical leader.
Now I would like to give an example of a leader that I found to embrace all the above stated 4Vs. He is currently the CEO of one of the most valuable companies in the world. This company is known to be a pioneer in the portable devices/technology industry, it’s brand image is known and recognised the world over, the person I’am talking about is none other than the CEO of Apple Inc., Tim Cook. He is known to be a radical thinker, always think outside the box and coming up with concepts which never existed before. One of the incidents that is fairly recent that I would like to point out is, when Tim Cook put himself and his company front and center in a national debate on digital privacy, when he decided Apple would not comply with a federal court order to help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists (NPR.org, 2016). Cook took a stand to protect the right to privacy of the users of iPhones. This is considered to be very ethical from the user’s point of view, because we have all of our personal data and information on these devices, which are basically an extension of our very selves and with the recent cases coming to light of government snooping, it would have been highly unethical of the company to allow backdoor access to our devices. I would like to share a short video of Tim Cook, where he talks about being an ethical leader.
To conclude this blog, I would like to say that being ethical is a choice that is upto to each individual/organisation to make and encourage others to as well. Being ethical is the right way to deal with the many issues that arise in our daily lives and within the workings of an organisation and if we are to provide a healthy environment in which we would like to growth and productivity, we must follow ethics.
Grace, B. (2016). Concepts and Philosophies. [online] Available at: http://www.ethicalleadership.org/concepts-and-philosophies.html [Accessed 8 Jun. 2016].
Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory. (2016). Boundless. [online] Available at: https://www.boundless.com/management/textbooks/boundless-management-textbook/organizational-behavior-5/employee-needs-and-motivation-46/herzberg-s-two-factor-theory-239-6609/ [Accessed 8 Jun. 2016].
NPR.org. (2016). Apple’s CEO Takes A Stand — And A Risk. [online] Available at: http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/02/26/468134880/apples-ceo-takes-a-stand-and-a-risk [Accessed 8 Jun. 2016].