Interpret Ethical Leadership in a Global Organization
OLB 7005, Assignment 6
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Jamiel Vadell
10 June 2018
Christian & Missionary Alliance
The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) is a global not-for-profit organization which operates in 81 countries (Christian and Missionary Alliance, 2018). While the organization is overseen by an elected board known as the Board of Directors, this board is chaired by an elected President (Christian and Missionary Alliance, 2018). The current President of the C&MA is Dr. John Stumbo, and as President his responsibilities include not only leadership of the National Office but also of staff and offices around the globe (Christian and Missionary Alliance, 2018). This paper will examine the leadership of Dr. John Stumbo as an ethical executive leader of a global organization. Furthermore, it contains recommendations on global ethical leadership from best practices identified by current research.
Ethics in Decision-Making
Ethics is a relevant and daily concern for organizational leaders (VanderPal & Ko, 2014). While ethics impacts organizations at a corporate level, ethics begins at an individual level (Werhane, 2014). Consequently, ethics must be emphasized in various forms of training for the individual and not simply emphasized on a corporate level. Additionally, ethical decision-making is a process which should be stressed and delegated to the lowest reasonable organizational level (Werhane, 2014). Clegg & Kornberger (2007) suggested that organizations should emphasize this by instituting ethical training in the form of individual action and behavior. Ethics, they noted, is best exemplified by what someone does and not by what someone has. When ethics is examined in light of the actions of organizational followers, it allows for “disagreement, conversation, idea-exchange, and negotiation” (Clegg & Kornberger, 2007, p. 66). Given this information, the first recommendation for Dr. John Stumbo is to seriously consider a values-based approach to leadership.
Values-based leadership is an approach to leadership which takes certain moral characteristics and inculcates them into those scattered throughout the organization. These values are modeled by leadership and observed and, ideally, internalized by members of the organization. In global organizations such as the Christian & Missionary Alliance, a values-based approach to leadership takes these moral characteristics, modeled by those in leadership, and allows members of the organization to observe and discuss these values in a way that is consistent with the dialogue encouraged by Clegg & Kornberger (2007). Furthermore, once these values are properly observed, communicated, and embraced it allows for organizational decision-making (which will be guided by these values) to be disseminated across all levels of the organization.
VanderPal and Ko (2014) pointed to the importance of values-based leadership in global organizations. The larger an organization grows, the greater will be their need to delegate and disseminate decision-making to broader levels across an organization. Additionally, sixty-two countries were studied to determine commonality of leadership values. It was discovered that all sixty-two countries shared similar desirable leadership values and attributes. This matters to global organizational leaders because an ethical, values-based approach to leadership is demonstrated to be generally favorable and profitable across cultural boundaries. Bass (2008) gave the example of Johnson & Johnson who ordered a voluntary recall of Tylenol when it was discovered that cyanide was inadvertently inserted into some packaging. This recall was costly for the company and caused a short-term profit loss. However, the goodwill and trust earned by the company with consumers led to long-term gain and benefits which for outweighed the cost of the recall. These examples, among many others which could be mentioned, demonstrate that embracing a values-based approach to ethical leadership has not only positive effects on organizational decision-making processes, but also on public relations and the ever-important profit margin.
Ethics Influences Culture
In addition to these benefits, however, a values-based approach to leadership is discovered to influence culture. Research proves this true not only when operating in a single culture but, importantly for Dr. John Stumbo and the Christian & Missionary Alliance, across multiple cultures as well. The second recommendation, then, follows the first: put in place agreed upon barometers for gauging how your values-based leadership is impacting both the organization as well as the environments in which it operates.
Pertinent to this recommendation is the research of Werhane (2014) who concluded that even though certain operating environments are unethical, operating ethically in an unethical environment can produce good, ethical results. In other words, values-based ethical leadership can have a positive effect on the surrounding culture even when that culture is generally unethical. Additionally, and of equal importance, is a study undertaken by Alas (2006). The research of Alas (2006) demonstrated that, although there are various cultural conceptions of ethics, certain cross-cultural values do exist. Global leaders, like Dr. John Stumbo, would be prudent to nest their corporate goals within these global values. What might these barometers look like?
Such barometers may include a reduction in the frequency of certain crimes in and around areas where the Christian & Missionary Alliance operates. One specific example from research comes from (Cateora, Gilly, & Graham, 2011) who noted that bribery is common and accepted in many cultures. In fact, it was specifically concluded that global organizations are at a greater risk of bribery because of their cross-cultural operations. It is important to note the research of Lestrange (2013) who concluded that a strong ethical reputation is itself a deterrent for bribery, even in areas where bribery is common. This may serve as one barometer of whether a values-based approach to ethical leadership is positively impacting the area of operations. An additional barometer to consider would be the degree to which the organization is successfully retaining and attracting employees with similar value sets. If such retention is occurring, then such a values-based approach to leadership is resulting in positive cultural change.
Perhaps the most important and pertinent consideration for Dr. John Stumbo and the Christian & Missionary Alliance is the element of their simultaneous operating in numerous cultures. Not only do different cultures observe differing business practices, but research has demonstrated that cultures respond very differently to the same scenario and circumstances Lestrange (2013). Lestrange (2013) gave, as an example, organizations and their treatment of formal business practices and structures. While in some cultures, formal business practices and structures and normal and widely accepted, in other cultures the same formalized structure would be treated with suspicion and contempt. In fact, Lestrange (2013) specifically highlighted the issue of bribery, concluding that in certain cultures bribery is more frequent when formalized practices and structures are imposed. Consequently, leadership and management in the new millennium requires leaders to operate across multiple cultures and develop organizational targets which take unique cultural elements into consideration (Neera, et al, 2010). In other words, while certain values can sustain across cultures, practices cannot. Global leaders, such as Dr. John Stumbo, must then consider how these values translate into corporate objectives which are not limited by cultural boundaries. There are several examples of such practices to consider.
Sadri (2013) noted that conflict resolution is one of the most important skills that global organizational leaders can develop. This is primarily since different cultures resolve conflict very differently. The failure by global leaders, like Dr. John Stumbo, to take this important cultural distinction into account could have catastrophic results. Sadri (2013) gave the contrast of the Chinese culture of indirectness in conflict resolution and the American culture of directness in conflict resolution. A global leader and organization operating in these two environments needs to build in and allow flexibility for culturally appropriate methods for conflict resolution.
While there are many aspects of global leadership which present challenges for Dr. John Stumbo, research concludes that these are the best practices and worthy of consideration. Firstly, establishing organizational values which can be modeled by the individual and measured by the organization must take place. These values are those which transcend cultural boundaries and, thus, can be kept in place across the organization cross-culturally. This not only establishes organizational values but also disseminates decision-making to all levels and across all cultures throughout the organization. Secondly, these values must be translated into measurable objectives to ensure that they are influencing culture in a manner consistent with intent. This is accomplished by looking both inside and outside an organization. These objectives should be measurable and attainable, and regularly examined by those in leadership. Finally, Dr. Stumbo must consider how these inflexible values are applied in a flexible manner throughout the organization. Conflict resolution, for example, can be an organizational value, but the implementation of that values needs to be applied at the local level which fits the local context. The application and implementation of these values can and should be left up to the discretion of regional field directors. In observing these principles, which are consistent with the best practices recommended by research, Dr. John Stumbo and the Christian & Missionary Alliance should experience greater success in their leadership of their cross-cultural, global operation.
Alas, R. (2006). Ethic in countries with different cultural dimensions. Journal of Business Ethics, 69(3), 237-247. doi: 10.1007/s10551-006-9088-3
Bass, B. (2008). The Bass handbook of leadership: Theory, research, & managerial applications. New York, NY: Free Press.
Cateora, P. R., Gilly, M. C., & Graham, J. L. (2011). International marketing. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Christian and Missionary Alliance. (2018). About us. Retrieved from https://www.cmalliance.org/about/
Clegg, S., Kornberger, M., & Rhodes, C. (2007). Business ethics as practice. British Journal of Management, 30(1), 56-69.
Lestrange, J. J., & Tolstikov-Mast, Y. (2013). Can global organizations use values-based leadership to combat bribery and corruption? Journal of Leadership, Accountability, and Ethics, 10(4), 41-56.
Neera, J. & Anjanee, S., & Shoma, M. (2010). Leadership dimensions and challenges in the new millennium. Advances in Management, 3(3), 18-24.
Sadri, G. (2013). Choosing conflict resolution by culture. Industrial Management, 10(1), 10-15.
VanderPal, G., & Ko, V. (2014). An overview of global leadership: Ethics, values, cultural diversity and conflicts. Jornal of Leadership, Accountability, and Ethics, 11(3), 166-175.
Werhane, P. H. (2014). Competing with Integrity: Richard De George and the ethics of global business. Journal of Business Ethics, 127(1), 737-742. doi: 10.1007/s10551-014-2183-y
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