Values, Morals & Ethics
A common phrase that is repeated often is, “actions speak louder than words.” When contemplating the issue of personal values, morals, and ethics, we must focus primarily on the actions and choices we take rather than just on stated values. Just as the clearest identifier of a seed is the fruit it ultimately bares, our actions become the fruit of our lives that flow from our roots or our values and morals. Having clearly defined values and morals are what ultimately guide our decision- making process both personally, as well as organizationally. In this paper, I will briefly discuss how values and morals guide my decision-making process.
The very nature of being a leader immediately positions us in a place of influence. In many cases, the leader of an organization is the one that does not run from a tough decision or problem, but rather is the one that embraces the difficulty standing ahead. While some decisions the leader must make are simple, many predicaments the leader is given to handle are not clear-cut. It is in these moments the leader must find something deeper within them than just what can be found on the surface. Clearly defined values and a moral code that drives ethical behavior must come into play.
When faced with an ethical decision that will ultimately affect myself, as well as those I lead I must begin by digging beneath the surface to the core of who I am by exploring my values and morals in light of the choice. For me personally, these values and morals come from a solid foundational belief in the Word of God as the authority in my life. Therefore, it is my personal desire for others to discover the fruit of my life in perfect alignment and sustained by the root of the Word of God.
When faced with an ethical or moral dilemma it is not wise to rely upon feelings as the guide of our choice. While a gut feeling can lead you in some instances it is not a reliable standard to use when facing issues of this magnitude. Having made the decision to build my life on the Word of God and viewing the Word of God as the foundation of all moral choices and the seedbed for my personal values I always go back to it when seeking clarity on specific issues. In many instances, the Word of God will speak clearly for or against an issue that society views as a personal preference. On the occasions when it doesn’t, I must begin to process my decision-making through the lens of my values and principles, which are rooted in the Word of God.
If I do not have clear direction on a difficult decision I am facing, I then ask how the decision I am about to make will affect the values and principles I have chosen to live by. If a decision for something is legally and morally ok, yet it would violate my personal values and principles, I am obligated to not pursue the decision any further. If the decision is legally and morally ok and it does not violate my personal values and ethics, I would then place the decision in perspective of short- term and long- term benefits and drawbacks of the choice. Information is necessary to make wise choices; therefore, if I am lacking information I know I could get if I pursued it, I will try to get that information before I make the decision. In this case, ignorance is not bliss.
Just as the fruit of a tree determines its DNA, the actions and choices I make determine what my moral code and personal values are. It is vitally important in the life of a leader to determine early what they personally value. The process of determining ones personal values in life will liberate you to make choices based upon those values later on. In a sense, our personal values and moral code become the track for which we choose to live our life upon. The role of a leader is established by the permission of those who choose to follow. When a leader clearly defines their values and morals and then makes decisions based upon them, trust is built between the leader and follower, which in turn establish a greater permission to lead.