Transformation of Values – Nu Leadership Series

Men cease to interest us when we find their limitations. The sin is limitations. As soon as you once come up to a man’s limitations, it is all over with him.

Emerson

Philosophers and researchers have conducted extensive studies on value formation in individuals and organizations. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were intrigued with the development of values. Virtue, in the Greek translation, is arête; Aristotle viewed this concept as moral and intellectual experience. Much of the study of ethic conduct is derived from the Aristotelian tradition of rational reflection.

In the Aristotelian case, virtue encompasses other qualities, such as goodness and power. Virtue is then developed and displayed as a set of learned traits. According to Enlightening thinking, virtues become a learning process that is enhanced through continued use and application in a person’s daily routine.

Furthermore, values then become an integral component for personal character development and determine the strength of relationships in organizations. At the center of these relationship is trust, a precious commodity in an apathy and untrusting society. Trust brings a variety of shared ethical norms that allow individuals to enter relationship uninhibited. Hence, if an individual wants to accomplish anything with other people or groups, trust must be a chief component. Values influence personal attitudes while attitudes influence a person’s behavior. Kerns, an ethics researcher, constructed several core virtuous values that influence personal ethics.

The following are the core values: wisdom and knowledge, justice and fair guidance, transcendence, love and kindness, and courage and integrity. Kern argued that five steps can steer an organization to greater ethical conduct. First, organizations must close any gaps between knowledge about what to do and what actions need to be done.

Second, leaders need to be selective in whom they hire. Many organizations do not consider value alignment. Third, new employees need to be trained and immersed in organization culture so that they become active organizational disciples. Fourth, accountability and follow-up are critical in value formation. Finally, managers need to be active in organizational culture so that they produce the proper organizational values.

References:

CNN (2005). Reid: White House owes an explanation. Received on October 31, 2005 from http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/10/30/leak.probe/index.html.

Ciulla, J.B. (1998). Ethics: The Heart of Leadership. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Draft, R. (1995). Organization Theory & Design. Congress gets low ratings on ethics, honesty.

Harris, J. (April 12, 2005). In recent scandals, a rethinking of capital’s conventional wisdom. Washington Post.

Heuser, B. (2005). The Ethics of Social Cohesion. Peabody Journal of Education. 80(4), pp.8-15.
Kern, C. (2003). Creating and Sustaining an Ethical Workplace Culture, Pepperdine University.
King, S. (2006). The Moral Manager. Public Integrity. 8(2), pp.113-133.
Lester, W. (2005). Associated Press. Congress gets low ratings on ethics, honesty.

Nelson, M. (1994). Why Americans hate Politics and Politicians. Virginia Quarterly Review. 70(4), p.636, 18p.

Yukl, G. (2002). Leadership in Organizations. Delhi, India: Pearson Education, Inc.

© 2007 by Daryl D. Green