Generally, in workplaces, there are situations when professional responsibilities unexpectedly conflict with the deepest values of individuals. Usually, managers respond to such situations in several ways, depending on a given situation. Regardless of the path taken in order to approach such challenges, decisions are cumulatively taken over many years, based on the individual’s character. These characters of individuals are referred to as the defining moments. Also, tough ethical decisions need to be taken, in order to solve such challenges. Many philosophers have tried to discuss these situations from different points of view. However, the aim of the current paper is to evaluate the choices faced by Steve Lewis, Peter Adario, and Eduoardo Sakiz, according to Badaracco’s article. This evaluation will be done from the standpoints of generalizability, virtue ethics tests and utilitarian, comparing them with Hookers’s discussion of integrity. Also, it will be discussed whether organizations can exhibit character, integrity and virtue.
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Ethics, also known as philosophical ethics, is a subject that is concerned with what is right and moral in organizational management. It involves systematizing, recommending, and defending concepts of right and wrong. Although, it is sometimes being argued from religious perspective, ethics is mainly based on logical and critical thinking. This involves identifying significant values and making decisions based on analytical skills. Philosophical ethics investigates the best way for people to live, and determines what actions are right or wrong in specific circumstances.
Badaracco, in his article suggested that there are three kinds of defining moments which are particularly common. These defining moments are discussed below (Badaracco, 1998, p.116):
Defining Moments of Individuals
The first is the issue of personal identity which raises the question of who am I? This moment demands that managers resolve urgent issues of personal identity with serious implications for their careers. Nevertheless, there are two rights that present themselves, presenting plausible and attractive choices.
Aristotle discussed classic ethical work that people’s feelings can actually help in making sense of an issue, understanding its basic dimensions, and indicating the stakes involved (Badaracco, 1998, p. 117). Nevertheless, feelings and intuitions are both a source of light and a form of intelligence. For better understanding of this concept, the case of a young analyst is used. Steve Lewis worked for a well-known investment bank in Manhattan, where he was asked to help with a presentation to an important prospective client. He was surprised when the message came to him because the company had a clear policy against including analysts in presentations or meeting with clients. In fact, Lewis knew little about the subject of meeting which concerns a specialized area of municipal finance (Badaracco, 1998, p. 117).
When Lewis arrived at the venue, he asked a friend and mentor who was also an African-American whether he knew about the issue. The friend then sat him down and made him understand that he was also an African-American like him, but expressed his dissatisfaction that Lewis was introduced to the particular part of the business so soon. However, the new state treasurer who was a black man wanted to see at least one black professional at the meeting or else the company cannot be the manager for the deal. Now, the question is “what if Lewis had reacted to the situation based on his intuitions and feelings”? Nevertheless, he firmly believed that he had to earn his advancement at the company, in order to maintain his self-respect (Badaracco, 1998, p. 117).
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Lewis was not satisfied with moving up the success ladder due to affirmative action programs or being just a “token” member of that company. Based on this reason, he always wanted to demonstrate that he deserved his position through his work (Badaracco, 1998, p. 117). Also, because he was a former athlete, he had always prided himself on being a team player, and so, he never believed in letting down his team members. However, he discovered that the issue of whether to go to the presentation or not was less complex than the issue he was faced with, and this involves a misunderstanding between two of his most deeply help beliefs (Badaracco, 1998, p. 117).
More so, by considering defining moments based on feelings and intuitions, the conflict can be removed from its business context, bringing it to a more manageable and personal level. Lewis had no doubt that he wanted to partner with a major investment bank, and that he wanted to take the position based on merit. He had been drawn to the idea of Wall Street, and he had worked purposefully, in order to make this idea become a reality. He accepted his current job which made him believe that he had set his foot on the part he had dreamt of, and nothing gave him misgivings about his job (Badaracco, 1998, p. 117). However, this was the kind of work he enjoyed doing, and the type of life he wanted to live. Looking at his African-American background, what his parents thought him formed the basis of his thoughts.
Lewis faced the challenges even in the restaurant, where blacks were not served. Whenever they arrived, the hostess would tell them that their reservation was lost, which means they could not be seated. It got to a point that his mother had to make a new reservation under her maiden name which made the restaurant suspect nothing. However, since he had always thought of this issue even as he sits in the office many years later, he began to sense what seemed to be the best answer to his parent’s dilemma. Lewis decided not to go to the meeting, as the “token black” because doing so will repudiate the examples set by his parents. Therefore, he decided that his race was a very significant part of his moral identity. This, however, had a stronger and deeper relationship with his core self even more than his recent professional role (Badaracco, 1998, p. 117).
Nevertheless, the introspection in which Lewis engaged himself could easily be divorced from the demands of the real world. As a result of this, there are a lot of managers who unthinkingly throw themselves into a deep personal cause, and then suffer serious setbacks in their career lives. However, in this case, there is the need to define the combination of expediency and shrewdness, coupled with boldness and imagination which will help in implementing personal understanding of what is right. Although Steve Lewis decided to join the presentation team, he gambled that he could do so based on the terms that were at least acceptable to him.
However, Lewis clearly defined the dilemma and had taken a decisive step to solve it by not just attending the meeting. He felt he had passed a minor trial and had demonstrated that he is not only capable and willing to do what was required to get the job done, but also that he would not be treated as a token member of the group.
Evaluating the Situation
According to the concept of professional ethics, the choices faced by Steve Levis are against professional ethics of discrimination, but yet he forged ahead to achieve his goal. Looking at those challenges, we can conclude that Steve Lewis was able to pass the generalizability (Hooker, 2011, p. 7). This is based on the fact that he had his reasons for his actions, and was able to generalize his rational choice. If he had refused to participate in the presentation, based on the fact that a black person and also an analyst should not qualify to participate, then he would have failed the test.
Also, evaluating Lewis’ situation based on the utilitarian test, it can be concluded that he passed the test because his rational choice and actions justified the ends. Utilitarian test evaluates rational actions and decisions based on the two main factors: the mean and the end or the ultimate goal (Hooker, 2011, p. 15). However, Lewis held on to his rational choice and actions because it was relevant for him to achieve the ultimate goal.
In addition, evaluating Lewis’ rational choice and actions based on the virtue ethics test, it can be concluded that he passed the test because he exhibited the required virtue. Virtue ethics test is aimed at evaluating the rational actions and choices which must exhibit certain ethical virtues (Hooker, 2011, p. 21). He was also consistent with his decisions; he kept to his decisions and did not compromise. Virtue refers to the result of an individual being consistent in his/ her decisions or personality (Hooker, 2011, p. 21).
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Defining Moments for Work Group
The second issue of personal identity raises the question of who we are. Defining moment is sometimes more difficult to resolve, as managers move up in organizations. Looking at situation as a conflict between two personal beliefs, there is the need for managers to add other dimensions which are the values of the workgroup and their responsibilities to the people under them (Badaracco, 1998, p. 119). Some of the questions answered in this defining moment are: should a manger respond to an employee that often comes to work with the smell of alcohol on his breathe? How should a manager react to an employee who made sexual remarks to another? However, the resolution in this type of defining moment unfolds not only as a personal drama within one’s self, but also as a drama among workers.
Although, so many managers believe that the whole group views a situation through the same lens as they do, it rarely succeeds in uniting people in order to accomplish common goals. People view situations differently based on religion, the difference in upbringing, education and ethnicity. Managers are usually faced with ethical challenges of imposing their own understanding on what is right, and how other members view the dilemma.
However, a suitable illustration of such kind of problem involves a 35-year-old-manager Peter Adario (Badaracco, 1998, p. 119). He was the head of a marketing department of Sayer Microworld. He recently hired an accountant manager, who was a single mother, even though she was highly qualified and competent. However, Adario was finding it difficult to keep up with her work based on the fact that she needed to spend time with her child too (Badaracco, 1998, p. 119). Adario himself was a father and sympathetic to McNeil’s plight, so he was pitting his belief that employees needed to spend more time with their families.
Nevertheless, Walters saw right versus wrong, based on the fact that Adario saw right versus right (Badaracco, 1998, p. 120). Her belief concerning ethical issues is that of Adario’s lack of action on the issue, and Neil’s responsibility in not pulling her weight. It was also believed that it was unfair for one member of the badly overburdened team to receive a special treatment. Generally, identifying competing interpretations is one of the many battles faced. Managers need to make realistic assessments of the winning interpretation.
As a form of managerial process, there is the need to learn to spot problems before they transform into crisis. The truth of the matter is that effective managers try to put in place the condition of defining moments long before they even present themselves (Badaracco, 1998, p. 120). In the case of Adario, instead of waiting for the issue concerning family versus work to arise, the problem could have been anticipated and proactive measures taken to define a work culture, which is aimed at valuing both the work and the family (Badaracco, 1998, p. 120). However, there were simple opportunities to prevent the final turn of events from occurring. In addition, one of the hallmarks of a defining moment is that there is a lot at stake to players in the drama, and usually the players make their interest known first (Badaracco, 1998, p. 120). At the end, Walters seized the moment and found a strong ally in the senior management that helped her carry out her plans. The result of this situation made Adario stumble, it is obvious that defining moments showed him a lesson.
Evaluating the Situation
However, we can conclude based on the generalizability test that Peter Adario failed to pass the generalizability (Hooker, 2011, p. 7). This is because he had his reasons for his actions, but was able to generalize his rational choice and achieve his required result. If he had not waited for the issue concerning family versus work to arise, and anticipated and taken proactive measures to define a work culture which is aimed at valuing both the work and the family he would have passed the test.
Also, evaluating Lewis’ situation based on the utilitarian test, it can be concluded that he failed the test because his rational choice and actions did not justify the ends. Utilitarian test was used to evaluate his rational actions and decisions based on the two main factors: the mean and the end or the ultimate goal (Hooker, 2011, p. 15). However, Adario held on to his rational choice and actions but did not achieve the ultimate goal.
In addition, evaluating Lewis’ rational choice and action based on the virtue ethics test, it can be concluded that he failed the test because he did not exhibit the required virtue. As it was earlier stated, if he had not waited for the ‘family versus work’ issue to arise, and anticipated and taken proactive measures to define a work culture, he would not have failed to achieve his goals. In other words, he did not exhibit the required virtue for evaluating family and work.
Defining Moments for Work Executives
Also, the third and defining moment involves defining the role of the company in the society. In this case, the issue of personal identity raises the question of who is the company. Usually, redefining the direction of one’s life and work requires a thoughtful blend of calculated actions and personal introspection. Considering the complexities the dilemmas faced by chief executive officers who receive the reports of package, tampering in one of the over-the-counter medications in their companies. In case of such overwhelming decisions, most executives usually hold meetings, negotiate and hire lawyers and consultants (Badaracco, 1998, p. 122). Although these might be helpful, they can also be disappointing, except if executives take the necessary time and steps to provide powerful position for them in the debate.
Looking at this issue from the perspective of strength, leaders can define their vision of what is right in a particular situation, and from the perspective of weakness, the actions of leaders seem to be desperate and hollow. However, before CEOs can influence the broad stage of the society with their personal visions, they have to be sure that their actions do not jeopardize the job of their employees, the wellbeing of their companies, and the net income of their shareholders (Badaracco, 1998, p. 122).
In order to illustrate this defining moment, the case of Eduoardo Sakiz, the CEO of Roussel Uclaf, a French pharmaceutical company, facing a defining moment of this magnitude is used. He had to decide whether to market the new drug RU-486, also known as abortion pill. Early test had shown that the drug was effective and antiabortion groups were outraged that the drug was even under consideration. Nevertheless, there was little doubt that at one level, the decisions faced by Sakiz was a personal defining moment.
Sakiz believed that the drug could help many women, especially those in poor countries. It could help to avoid death or injury from botched abortions (Badaracco, 1998, p. 122). Sakiz had the responsibility of protecting the jobs and security of his workers. He knew that whatever steps he chooses to take, could avoid any painful boycotts and avoid the risk of violence. His decision was complicated, based on the fact that some workers were passionately committed to the drug, while other opposed the drug according to ethics or fear that protest might affect the company. However, how could Sakiz introduce this drug while protecting his interest and that of his employees? All options available to him seem to lead him into assuming a low profile. There are too many opponents for the best approach he could take, but they could drag the company to a dangerous, lengthy, and painful turmoil.
The main reason why this form of defining moment seems so difficult is because executives are not only required to form, reveal, and test themselves and their workgroup, but also the entire company and its role in the society. This requires that one should forget about the plan of action that functions at the individual, workgroup and societal levels. According to this principle, Sakiz certainly did not want to take the way out of his problem. He wanted women who seek nonsurgical abortions and their physicians to be among the company core stakeholders. This is because the company would support the constituency in terms of astute political activism (Badaracco, 1998, p. 123).
For this goal to be achieved, the top executives must carefully assess their components and allies, so that they can make their ethical visions a reality. But, finally, Sakis achieved his goals by putting in place the three most relevant components of the third type of defining moment. First of all, he secured his future at the company; he was able to deflect some controversy about introducing the drug, away from the company, in order to protect his employees and the bottom line. Lastly, he had put the company in a technological and social leadership role within the French and the international circles (Badaracco, 1998, p. 124).
Evaluating the Situation
Nevertheless, we can conclude that based on the generalizability test, Eduoardo Sakiz was able to pass the generalizability based on the fact that he had his reasons for his actions, and was able to generalize his rational choice. He was able to generalize his rational decision even though some antiabortion agents protested against his idea.
Also, evaluating the situation in accordance with the utilitarian test, it can be concluded that Eduoardo Sakiz passed the test because his rational choice and actions justified the ends. His decision justified his ultimate goal of avoiding death or injury from botched abortions. However, Sakis held on to his rational choice, and at the end he achieved his ultimate goal.
In addition, evaluating Eduoardo Sakiz rational choice and action based on the virtue ethics test is the most complicated. However, it can be concluded that he passed the test because he exhibited the required virtue of trying to avoid injury or death from botched abortions. He was also consistent with his decisions; he was true to his decisions and refused to compromise because he was convinced about his ultimate goal.
Managers usually respond to ethical challenges in several ways, depending on a variety of factors. Regardless of the path taken in order to approach such challenges, decisions are cumulatively taken over many years based on the individual’s character. These individual characters are referred to as the defining moments. However, the choices faced by Steve Lewis, Peter Adario, and Eduoardo Sakiz were evaluated according to the Badaracco’s article. This evaluation was done from the standpoints of generalizability, virtue ethics tests and utilitarian and comparing them with Hookers’s discussion of integrity.
The first is the issue of personal identity, which raised the question of: who am I? This moment demands that managers resolve urgent issues of personal identity with serious implications for their careers. In fact, the case of Steve Lewis was used to illustrate this concept. The second issue of personal identity raises the question of who we are. In this form of defining moment, the case of Peter Adario was illustrated. Some of the questions answered in this defining moment are: should a manger respond to an employee that often comes to work with the smell of alcohol on his breathe? How should a manager react to an employee who made sexual remarks to another? Also, the third issue, which is the most defining moment, involves defining the role of the company in the society. In this case, the issue of personal identity raises the question of who is the company, and in order to illustrate this form of defining moment, the case of Eduoardo Sakiz was used.
However, similar, but increasingly complicated challenges were discussed. Managers were faced with difficult acts of self-inquiry, which lead them to taking calculated and decision actions based on their personal understanding about the concept ethics. Nevertheless, from the result of the evaluations made earlier, it is worth noting that it is possible for organizations to exhibit character, integrity and virtue. Although, achieving such goals could be so challenging, because it is difficult to resolve as managers move up in organizations. Looking at situation as a conflict between two personal beliefs, there is the need for managers to always consider the values of the workgroup and their responsibilities to people under them. In addition, virtue ethics sometimes seems conflicting to the generalization principle, also the maximization of utility and family loyalty may require some ungenaralizable acts. Virtue ethics sometimes tend to be vague, but, in some cases, it brings about moral charity. Also, based on the evaluations, it is worth knowing that Badaraco’s concept of character illuminates Hooker’s discussion of integrity.