Leaders have many important roles in organisations that are directly relevant to the establishment and maintenance of an ethics code. For instance, leadership “involves the
persistent sense of the urgency to change” (de Lange, 2001). Implementation of the American Standard’s ethics and integrity program is an example of such change in the organisation that is intended to bring it to a new level in its ethical standards, triggering serious and hopefully lasting changes in the organization.
The implementation of an ethics program will inevitably develop in strong correlation with the qualities of the leader who guides the process reflecting this person’s values, norms and attitudes. In almost any case, leadership will “operate from within personality of the leader as its context and not the other way around” (de Lange, 2001). This is the desirable way in which things should proceed, and initiatives have to develop in accordance with the leader’s insights and intentions. Thus, the personality and agenda of Rose Shyman, appointed to oversee the ethics program at American Standard, will surely impact the way the program is realised.
The role of the leader in creating a workable pattern for the program implementation is also “supplying the common vision” (de Lange, 2001). Thus, Rose Shyman does not only have to produce an effective and inspirational vision as to the organisation’s future, but she also has to map this vision to other people, motivating them to go along with their respective assignments. The leader organising the introduction of an ethics program will have to mobilise the ethical perceptions of all employees, appealing to their most superior ethical feelings. In addition, the individual leading others in this effort has to be able to translate one’s own ethical perceptions into the beliefs of the majority of people at the organization so that all or most share the vision for the ethics code.
In “Making a Place for Ethics”, Todd Datz has presented an interesting case of implementing an ethics program within a business organisation, drawing on the experience of American Standard whose new CEO, Fred Poses, decided to introduce common values and ethics throughout the organization. Involving measures related to financial controls, management practices, customer relationships, security, employee morale and corporate social responsibility, the new leader is eager to implement a program that will provide a coherent ethical background for the functioning of the whole organisation. The new unified code of ethics, in his opinion, could prove crucial in leading the company to new performance levels.
The new code of ethics was incorporated into the business plan to provide cohesion with other aspects of organizational activities and supply members with new decision-making tools. The written code involves a complex system that would support compliance, including a 23-member ethics and integrity council, ethics advisors and a system of inquiry. The need to produce drastic changes in organizational culture and performance calls for the leadership of an able individual. The personality, integrity, vision and motivational abilities of a leader will leave a distinct imprint on the ethics program.
De Lange, A.M. (2001, December 10). Constructive Creativity and Leadership. Part 6. LO27633. Retrieved February 25, 2006 from http://www.learning-org.com/01.12/0020.html
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