Program Reflections – February 6, 2010

Understanding and following strong ethics has always been very interesting and a high priority for me, particularly after the accused admissions scandal in 2009. For this reason, I choose to partake in the Integrity program. Understanding ethics beyond the simple “common sense” or “gut check” was an essential skill for me to gain, as many situations do not have a clear answer as to what is ethical, non-ethical, or unethical. Through this program, I was able to gain a definition of integrity, while realizing even when clearly defined, there is still some degree of uncertainty.

Open discussion of the ethical values most important to me compared to others, showed that integrity means something different to everyone. Even with differences between persons, we all agreed that there is an understood universal threshold as to acceptable behavior. Individual judgment was shown to be a key pillar in situations in which ethical dilemmas arose. Even with aspects that seem not to be an ethical question, such as focusing on the long-term versus the short-term, were exposed in this training. Framing certain aspects as a dilemma actually helped me understand others perspective on ethics.

The overall benefit I gained from the program was the way of thinking that it taught. Asking myself the right questions helps me find the right answer. Decisions that I make, define who I am and what my character stands for. During this day, I found out how an everyday decision really exposes the person I am. Mistakes and misjudgments occur, but the way I recover from these mistakes is more telling than the mistake itself.

A challenge that I hoped to overcome at the beginning of the leadership certificate program was to become more comfortable in understanding differing cultures ethical viewpoints. Multiculturalism and ethical leadership go hand in hand. In many cases different persons and societies believe that contrasting characteristics are ethical and some are not. Thanks to Integrity, I was exposed to the four primary paradigms that consistently arise in questionable situations. These “right versus right” decisions are very difficult and can be very hard to manage. Even so, these serve as defining moments of one’s character.

Through immersing myself in many different cultures during my time here, I have been able to see that there are universal experiences and ethical guidelines that all cultures seem to follow. Specifically, coming from a suburb of Chicago, I have had the opportunity to live with international students, rural farmers, work with persons with differing income levels, become good friends with city-folk all while developing my education. Exposure to so many different perspectives has allowed me to understand the importance and significance of making ethical decisions to maintain integrity.

Before this program, I knew of the importance of leaders making unethical decisions, compromising the well-being of others. Through this program and the time I have spent here, I have seen the negative impact an unethical decision can have and how devastating the long term effects can be. Through Integrity, my awareness of such issues was raised and I strive to be a leader with integrity at all times.