Moral development constitutes a psychological adaptation theory on moral reasoning based on ethical behavior. One of the theories used to explain moral development was by Lawrence Kohlberg (1981) a psychologist who developed the theory from Jean Piaget. Piaget outlined a two-stage moral development process and Kohlberg had six stages with three levels. He claimed that moral development happens throughout a person’s life (Kohlberg, 1981) .
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On the other hand, ethics describes a set of moral values, hence business ethics refers to behavior constrains of a person or decisions by a person that affects interests, welfare and expectations of others in a business setting. Therefore, unethical behavior describes unacceptable and illegal behavior. Business ethics therefore involves a complete personal ethical audit, recognition of the existence ethical issues that are inherent in a specific situation and the identification of the parties affected. Business ethics codifies and emphasizes on adoption of ethical codes of behavior. The codes reassure trust amongst the government, suppliers, the customers, the employees and the management. The empowerment of ethics is crucial in the post-bureaucratic organizations due to the less reliance on the externally imposed rules; they greatly emphasize on responsible autonomy (Kohlberg, 1981) .
Honesty is considered an attribute of the superior leaders, and integrity as having the convictions. Any desire to follow someone requires the reassurance of trust; ethics, honesty and acceptable principles. Unethical behavior is costly as far as business is concerned. It leads to credibility loss and reduction of the financial remuneration. According to Lewis (1985) unethical behavior by the management translates into negative impacts to their subordinates; who expect total integrity on their leaders (Lewis, 1985). Employees are believed to judge on their leaders’ integrity depending on behavior. Failure of following agreements, cover-ups, the inconsistency in words and actions are strong indicators of dishonesty. This results to corporate values confusion for the employees and may lead to indecisions, conflicts and stress. Kohlberg (1981) claimed that the cause of moral crises is as a result of breakdown of moral expectations.
According to Trevin%u0303o & Katherine, (2007) almost every dimension taken towards achieving satisfaction in a job is negatively related to unethical behavior perceptions in a company. They noted that managers will achieve their satisfaction in their jobs through the reduction of the opportunities for the unethical practices in their companies and they attempt to encourage ethics at an industrial level. In prevention of unethical behavior, many companies will tend to create Code of Ethics, which is enforced to cover any conflicts, promote customer, government and competitors’ relationships, and facilitate the control of the government assets and enhancement of good judgment (Trevin%u0303o & Katherine, 2007).
Most management do not have a clear outline of the ethical behavior in some situations, a factor that makes the workers unable to distinguish between right and wrong behaviors. Lewis (1985) warns of the danger of committing the small unethical actions, whose eventual consequences are detrimental unethical practices.
Teaching of business ethics
Studies show that many companies prefer economic imperatives to moral imperatives. This is usually illustrated by the argument of bad apples. The greatest percentage of the unethical behavior results due to individuals who initially did not learn ethics from family, school or even from their employers, popularly referred to as “bad apples” (Furnham & Taylor, 2011).
Effects of Bad Apples in an Organization
Bad apple theory states that people are either good or bad and the organization is powerless in changing them. The unethical conducts are associated with few individuals of poor character. Despite, it being unfair for any organization to fire its employees, the organization can identify few of the bad apples and discard them to avoid the rotting of the entire apple. A good general character is not a warrant of being able to deal with ethical problems. Training is critical for one to be able to recognize any ethical problem related to their occupation (Furnham & Taylor, 2011).
Unethical people can never achieve a business, which is ethical. In explanations, bad apples are considered as people who join an organization having either good or bad morals. The organization usually has minimal influence on their morals. The idea of bad apples has a psychological appeal where people believe that badness is usually in other people who may be ‘removed’. This is considered a scapegoat and attribution error (Furnham & Taylor, 2011).
On the other hand, social scientists argue that poor definition of the character contributes to weaknesses in description of bad apples. Unethical personality is immeasurable and many behave unethically due to several factors. People will often search for clues on how to be ethically behaved (Furnham & Taylor, 2011).
Moral intelligence refers to the mental capacity in the determination of the human principles. These principles inlude integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion. Studies show that moral intelligence is different from the technical, cognitive and the emotional intelligences (Trevin%u0303o & Katherine, 2007 and Lewis, 1985).
It encompasses the universal human principles, which are not based on ethnicity, gender, religion, or even culture, and instead they are applicable to the personal values, actions, and goals. The neuro-scientific advances in brain mapping indicate that people are born morally upright. The repercussions of loss of trust, honesty and confidence leads to huge business losses like the decrease in the capitalization of the traded stock to over $1 trillion (Lewis, 1985). Moral intelligence requires nurturing in the initial stages by family members or the guardians. The achievement of an organizational as well as personal success that is sustainable calls for moral competence. This is an outgrowth associated with “living in alignment,” interconnecting the moral compass of an individual. These include the behaviors, emotions, external actions, and goals, which influence ones beliefs, values and moral principles. Alignment living refers to the consistency of a person’s behavior with the goals and moral compass and requires comprehensive understanding and edifying of every component and still maintain alignment in the components. Moral competence is enhanced throughout a person’s life and is reflected in the behavior (Lewis, 1985). In business organizations, the environment should be characterized by responsibility, integrity, forgiveness, and compassion. These are moral intelligence applications in real life.
Morally Intelligent Organization
An organization, in which cultures are infused together with worthwhile values and where there is a consistent action by the members in alignment with the values, can be said to be morally intelligent. Such an organization will have morally intelligent people. On the other hand, selection and leadership are considered to be strong functions of organizational culture. Research shows that the extent of moral intelligence in leaders will greatly affect the success of the business. Humility and ambition are strongholds for great leaders. These virtues are there for a purpose, cause, mission, and their personal growth. Such leaders are said to be ‘level 5’, and their driving force is the desire for producing results through morally intelligent means. Such leaders are believed to move the company to greater heights; component in the black box. Inside the black box, there is another black box, which constitutes inner maturity of the person up to level five. Therefore, level 5 is believed to be essential in any organization leadership (Trevin%u0303o & Katherine, 2007).
Development and Nurturing of Moral Intelligence
Understanding the leadership takes the first position in the moral intelligence development. Efficiency in leadership starts with personal management, which is facilitated by the self-awareness, and which eventually leads to living in alignment. The personal reality should be aligned with the organizational goals and the moral compass ideas; for instance, the thoughts should be aligned with the principles (Trevin%u0303o & Katherine, 2007).
Self-awareness creates responsiveness towards ones personality, goals, gaps, and enhances a personal evaluation of the strengths and weakness. This will create an interest on the ‘riders’ of your bus and will enhance trust culture through self-disclosure, self-awareness and discovery of other people. Through ones ideals, moral intelligence will be reflected, and this reflection to the values is likened to a fabric that has various types of fibers that are embedded on it. Some fibers are morals; others are social, while still some are professional. The examination of the values for the company is also compared to such a fabric. Personal reality can be voluntary or involuntary. It is exercised through personal choice; emotions, what to think, and even what one says. Personal reality awareness can lead to self-management (Trevin%u0303o & Katherine, 2007).
Momentarily, the pause button is pressed and personal reality is evaluated in terms of thoughts, feelings, actions, and awareness of the facial expression, tone of voice or even the body language. After pausing and evaluation of personal reality, assessment of the extent of the alignment of experience reality is done; thoughts, actions, and emotions alignment with each other and checking whether the moral compass and the goals of a person are in alignment with reality of experience (Lewis, 1985).
A proper alignment indicates a success while a misalignment calls for a re-evaluation. There is always room for change. The alignment or misalignment is not of critical importance; most important is ones’ recognition of the influence on those around, because leadership is all about influence on other people (Lewis, 1985).
Correlation between Personal Reality and Ideality, and the Moral Integrity, Compassion, and Responsibility Principles
According to Lewis (1985), individuals are a fallible human being (FHB), and that perfection will tend to escape them. Therefore, for people to be morally intelligent, they should embrace the moral principles. For the leaders, the peersonal values should be in harmony with their moral principles, failure to which a re-examination should be carried out. A leader’s evaluation should encompass the alignment of goals with moral compass, and behaviors with the goals.
Imperatively, there is always a weakness in the choice of moral principles. They are usually free from our acceptance. In addition, emotions cannot be chosen. However, the choice of values, beliefs, goals, thoughts and actions depends on an individual. To align with the principles, then leaders can decide to change either all, or some of the choices (Lewis, 1985).
Importance of Moral Intelligence
Moral intelligence is vital in sustaining personal and organizational achievement. Its application is critical for the success of any organization, and it requires nurturing throughout a person’s life and the life of the organization. The enhancement of the abilities in honoring the principles is thus achieved through focusing on the competence that is related to the principles. Such principles and competencies include
- Integrity; a person acts in accordance to the principles, beliefs and the values. It includes standing up for the truth and telling what is true.
- Responsibility; a person is usually accounted for every action that leads to repercussions. Failure of taking responsibility may lead to failures and mistakes when serving others.
- Compassion; is an active care for other people.
- Forgiveness; is letting go of mistakes done.
Many organizations have been known to hire and maintain workers they believe are the best. This is contrary to the expectations by the employees, who are mainly attracted to ethical organizations. There is a common believe that when people are working for a noble purpose, they are expected to demonstrate loyalty and dependability. The ethics of a particular organization affects the employees and the performance of the duties. Examples of ethics include honesty in communications, respect towards the employees and ethical corporate behavior (Lewis, 1985).
Managers’ Care for the Ethics
Managers tend to care little about the ethics due to fear of management of unethical behavior. The management in every organization is liable to any criminal activity by the subordinates. On the other hand, workers may be torn between the ethical and the unethical. Some behaviors like abusing of competitors, fudging of sales figure or even shortchanging customers is considered unethical. Thus, managers should cultivate ethical behavior even in aggressive competition (Trevin%u0303o & Katherine, 2007).
Business and the Social Responsibility
Business ethics are believed to affect the society. Use of power responsibly refers to the concern for the stakeholders’ interests. The stakeholders include the shareholders, the employees, the suppliers, government, media, and the activists, among many others. Employees may strike, protesters can make bad publicity, customers may fail to buy the products, and government may regulate the activities of a firm. Therefore, of great importance is the consideration by the organization of all the stakeholders; carefully deliberate on their expectations and requirements before any decision is made, failure to which financial damage results, and criminal liability and reputation loss risks result (Trevin%u0303o & Katherine, 2007).
The business landscape varies and is usually dominated by people who are good and at times heroic. Therefore managers need empowerment in addressing ethical conducts and organizations should portray good examples by doing things the right way. Some of the recognition of a leader includes his purpose in leading people and his role in resource management, and the awareness that the decisions made will affect people related to the enterprise, either directly or indirectly (Trevin%u0303o & Katherine, 2007).
The management should therefore be handled with care and loyalty, refrained from any acts of corruption or unfair business practices protect human rights and the dignity of every shareholder in the company and oppose any form of exploitation or discrimination. It should also protect rights of the future generations and advance their living standards, enhance accurate and honest reporting of performance and any risks facing the organization and invest in personal and societal development in order to create a sustainable and an inclusive prosperity (Trevin%u0303o & Katherine, 2007).
The universally accepted principles in moral development include integrity; humility, forgiveness, responsibilities, self-discipline, compassion, wisdom and commitment to transcending power facilitate decision making and self-assessment, free of monitoring or sanctions in any organization. In achieving a morally intelligent organization, Kyosei and human dignity are crucial. “Kyosei” is a Japanese word describing cohesion for the people working and living together with one commonality, and this enhance cooperation and the coexistence of mutual prosperity and is accompanied by fair and healthy competition. On the other hand, Human Dignity describes the sacredness and the value of every person towards the fulfillment of unique purposes.