The lay understanding of moral competence is good character. Character is a multifaceted construct that captures the totality of an individual’s thoughts, sentiments and behaviors. In the course of my studies, I have learnt how an individual can use the moral competence inventory in order to identify his moral strength or weakness.
In day-to-day living, knowing what is moral from what is immoral is not easy. There is a lot of academic argument with regard to what moral values are or how to recognize what is ethical. Nonetheless as argued by Lennick & Kiel (2007, p.7), ‘moral standards are doctrines derived from collective principles that inform the human sense of what is correct and wrong’.
Universal principles or values are those that any person anywhere in the world would embrace as commendable and self-justifying. One of the most appreciated intellectuals on morality, Immanuel Kant, held that moral acts are universally acknowledged duties. Consequently, for you to have acted morally, it should be that all decent people put in your circumstance would do the same. For instance, all people in the world value impartiality, honesty, respect and justice.
My Moral Strength
I have come to identify, over time, that my greatest moral strength is my ability to stick or stand with the stipulated set of laws in any situation or circumstance that I am faced with rather than seek short cuts or expediency. This is not to mean that I am a rigid blind follower of rules and regulations. Contrarily, my strength is in critically evaluating a scenario based on my moral compass and following the spirit of the law or regulation.
From my classes and reading texts, I have come appreciate that success in business leadership is largely dependent on decisions based on moral values, rather than expedient resolutions based on appropriateness or convenience. Apart from having a moral compass, Lennick and Kiel (2007, p.6), note that moral intelligence is directly linked to emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the capability to tap into and comprehend the way an individual perceives, thinks or responds to issues thus translating into given emotions or feelings about.
I believe that emotional intelligence is another strength I have given I am very sensitive and I empathize a lot. Through empathizing, I am able to understand how others are affected emotionally and what exactly is causing the emotional state. Equally, when I experience emotions like guilt, I am able to connect my feelings with the kind of thoughts or my mental focus. By so doing, I am able to move from purely emotional responses to rational appraisal and response.
While working as an assistant manager in California Development Bank, I had a rare privilege of working under the leadership of the regional general manager. It was from this institution that I happened to witness evidence of this moral competency. In the course of his day-to-day banking activities, I realized that the general manager used to work in line with the banking rules and regulations to the letter. This was a great challenge to most of us young employees, putting into consideration that there was a lot of pressure to compromise.
Watching the assistant manager go about his activities increased my resolve to always stand by principles, rules and regulations. It was a wakeup call for me and most of my colleagues, because we were truly amazed by how the general manager was able to command great respect in the whole institution, by simply doing what is stipulated rather than what is convenient. By following his example, we were able to notice significant improvement in our work.
My present and future work and interactions will definitely benefit from this two strengths that I have developed over time. By remaining a principle individuals who is also sensitive enough and emotionally intelligent, I will have a cutting edge in the market place.
I strongly believe that my moral strengths will largely support me in my career development. For one to grow in a career, moral competency acts as a building block and guide. Based on values and principles that I hold dear, I will be able to make moral decisions that make long-term business or career sense.
I have come to realize that one of my areas of limitations is standing up for what is right in the face of pressure. Although, I personally strongly follow what I perceive to be the morally right route, I feel I do not have enough courage and tenacity to hold on to moral positions in the face of pressure. My other weakness is inability to confront people in authority.
If a senior were to do the wrong things, I often find it very challenging confronting such an individuals. I realize that I prefer to move along that confront and try to change things. Having always served as a junior member of staff, my position and stature has made me to be disposed towards not questioning the manner in which things are performed. However, looking back at the company or any institution that I have worked for, I believe that I have slowly been overcoming this weakness.
According to Trevino & Nelson (2007), workers in themselves have the capacity and responsibility to change the course of behavior in an organization, in the face of an ethical dilemma. Trevino & Nelson (2007), further explain that if the members of staff in any corporation can handle their roles responsibly, such dilemma instances can recede.
In most of the organizations I have worked in, it has always been my sympathetic perception that workers are to give heed to their senior’s instruction and not to question any directive coming from above. I have constantly been concerned that if I said whatever thing about the unethical conduct put on display by some members of the managerial circle, I would face negative repercussions.
Based on my responses, one would be forgiven to think that I have been the ethical self-centered person, who is concerned only with self-interest and well-being in an organization. The threat of losing a job due to challenging managerial decisions is real and like anyone else, I prefer to play safe. However, going into the future, I have to find more proactive ways of dealing with my fears if I am to success as a professional
As Dr. Green (2010) discussed in class, when people in positions of influence do not give confidence to workers to talk in relation to what is really going on, and they even reprimand people for being honest, it can consequently make the employees to become morally crippled.
The amount of threats and intimidation, subjected to workers by the management has rendered almost all my colleagues morally mute, hence it would really be difficult for any among my colleagues to think of reporting any form of unethical behavior to the relevant authority.
I believe I could easily deal with my weakness. This can be achieved by walking my talk i.e. give attention to my subordinates and work on any case that is brought before my attention, whether it is in tandem with seniors desires or not. Secondly, I would also have to improvise means and ways through which employees can channel their grievances concerning any moral virus within the organization, without fear of any negative repercussion or consequences.
Personal Interview with Moral Mentor
In order to support the progression of my moral intelligence, I sought additional advice about my lowest moral competency by holding an interview with Mr. Rimie Johnson; the human resource manager of the California development bank. Mr. Rimie is someone I have a high regard for; he is a decent and highly gifted manager.
The aim of holding this particular interview was to seek guidance on how Mr. Rimie developed the related moral competency, how he uses the competency in his day to day life and how he gained awareness in relation to the moral strength. I have worked with California development bank, though for a short stint, as an assistant manager at the office of the regional general manager.
During this period, I have sought out the guidance of Mr. Rimie on a number of occasions. When I spoke with him about business ethics and honorable intellect, Mr. Rimie pointed out that he had witnessed plenty of unethical conducts during his several decades of working experience, but that it wasn’t until he had developed a logic of individual power that he felt self-assured about speaking up to those conducting themselves badly (Rimie, 2010).
In the course of the interview, Mr. Rimie shared about a time he spoke out in an executive conference about the ethical insinuation of a premeditated project. One of the higher-ranking managers expressed gratitude to him for his remark, and then went on to a different agenda entry.
He was very anxious until he learned that his observation had been discussed at the next senior directors meeting, and that changes in the scheme were made as a consequence. He as well was happy to have made the observation, when some of his fellow workmates pulled him away when the meeting was adjourned and expressed their gratitude for having the bravery to point out the issue.
In response to my worries, Mr. Rimie advised that moral nerves come with age and experience, and that the Human Resource manager title was of great help as well. The interview with Mr. Rimie in his office at California Development bank lasted for just an hour. The consultation was very successful in helping me to recognize and resolve the challenges I had.
Given Mr. Rimie knows me fairly well, our meeting was relaxed and he took the occasion to give very specific proposals for my growth. At the end of the interview, we arranged to get together again in a month to talk further about ways of improving moral intelligence.
My Personal Ethical Code or Compass
My personal ethical code, is “to do the right thing and treat all people with dignity irrespective of sex, race, creed or faith”. I am convinced that by doing what is right, one escapes the wrath and evils of this world. Among the values I hold dear include upholding the human dignity in addition to acknowledging God’s glory in everything I do.
From the time one is able to differentiate between right and wrong, one should as well be able to identify his purpose in life, and improvise means of achieving one’s goal in life (Petrick & Quinn, 1997). My purpose in life is defined in relation to fulfilling Gods desire with my life. In my personal ethical life, integrity is a virtue I hold dear, because it is through being a person of integrity that one can win favor with God and men.
On matters pertaining responsibility, one needs to hold oneself responsible for own deeds and decisions. Having compassion over other peoples’ misfortunes in addition to upholding forgiveness, largely separate a human being from animals. It is human to be compassionate given we have capacity to empathize. These are virtues that everyone should exhibit naturally.
Each one of us has a moral compass that guides us, as we undertake our daily activities. The same moral compass, in individuals, guides professional behaviors. It is only by following that compass that we are able to function with a free sense of right and wrong i.e. when one follows his or her moral compass he or she stay away from being swamped down by culpability feelings. As discussed by Lennick & Kiel (2007, p.38), our moral compass consists of indispensable values, personal attitude and principles that direct our behaviors.
When faced with an ethical dilemma at the work place, one needs to come up with prudent ways of solving the issue, without any party to the dilemma feeling unfairly treated. The first step in resolving an ethical dilemma is consulting involved parties. Through consultation, one is able to come up with a way forward that is fair and acceptable.
One may want to consider the possibility of compromise over the issues at hand. However, as Doty (2009, p.16) points out, there are healthy and unhealthy compromises. Health conciliations are based on constructive demands and reasonable expectations. Doty (2009, p.17) describes healthy pressure as the category of pressure that drives one towards privileged values, wants and precedence.
Yielding to any form of detrimental pressure i.e. demands to move away from principles, doctrines and what one truthfully beliefs in, is mistaken. Doty (2009) adds that one can deal with anxiety either by playing alongside or by redefining his or her commitment in the game. In the face of damaging pressure, people are liable if they choose to play along (Doty 2009, P.27). The only way to stay away from the compromise snares is to engage in the game as per your higher principles, ideology and viewpoint.
Many managers find themselves torn between doing the right thing and the convenient thing. As Maclagan (1998, p.72) points out, many people have misunderstanding that they are not accountable for concession arrived at due to unhealthy demands; particularly if the pressure is originating from the leadership or higher-ranking officers in the organization.
The reality is that, as an individual, one is responsible for everything that he or she does or does not do. When looking at the cost of whatsoever course of action, one has to think about all implications i.e. emotional, moral and economic implications (Maclagan, 1998). Finally, one has to think universally and long term to avoid expediency and short-term gains that cause much long-term suffering.
Doty, E, (2009). The Compromise Trap: How to Thrive at Work without Selling Your Soul. San Francisco: Barret Koehier Publishers
Green, S. (2010). Lecture on “The Ethical Use of Power” given on May 5, 2010.
Lennick, D. & Kiel, F. (2007). Moral Intelligence: Enhancing Business Performance and Leadership Success, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Wharton School Publishing
Maclagan, P. (1998). Management and Morality: a development perspective. London: Sage publication ltd.
Petrick, J. A. & Quinn, J. F. (1997). Management Ethics: Integrity at Work. London: Sage Publication ltd
Rimie, J. (2009), Personal communication from interview on April 23, 2010.
Trevino, L. K. & Nelson, K.A. (2007). Managing Business Ethics. 4th Ed. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons publishers