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Professional Development Based on Values

The customs of the contemporary leadership patterns have created a strong competition among the modern leaders. In business, consumerism is seen as the driving force for success. It has become rather difficult for the potential leaders to clearly identify and sort out the characteristics that can both relate to morality and business success. It has been argued by Kouzes and Posner (2008) that good leadership should be that which is based on the norms of morality, language, culture and traditions of the country or its community. In other words, leadership ethics is a code of ethical norms and concepts that a good leader is to follow without exceptions.

Therefore, in the practice of leadership and management, it is encouraged that one develops both personal and professional mission statements. This enables individuals to have purpose, self drive and knowhow of how their actions can have grandeur effect not only to them and their families, but also to their friends, workers, workmates and the community at large. Both personal and professional mission statements are usually anchored on different values and reasons that differ from one person or company to another. The personal mission Statement is like the personal charter from which you make all your decisions, be it in life or personal. Effective individuals always visualize where, what, when and how they will get to their desired destinations. In a nutshell, personal mission statement depicts how one visualizes life and his/her role in it.  On the other hand, professional Mission statement is like a philosophy that guides you in your professional life. It is usually short and easy to memorize. It is a tool that grounds you, motivates and keeps you reminded of the reasons that made you join the profession that you are in.

Both the personal and professional mission statements usually have some element of being anchored on things that we hold dear to ourselves. They may be values, virtues, ethics, culture or even beliefs. In my business and other endeavors, my personal mission statement has been to preserve the values of my family, staying true to the Indonesian-Chinese ethics and culture of ensuring that at all times; I remain respectful, honest, and intelligent and committed to restraint. Consequently, my professional mission statement has been to successfully run a business that improves the living standards of my family and also meets the needs of the community.

In developing personal and professional missions statements, one can be guided by his passion in life, gift or talent, skills and knowledge acquired in school, past successes, values and norms of the family or community, problems and possible remedies in society and one`s goals or priorities in life. Individually, the main aspects that have greatly influenced my personal and professional mission statements have been my passions for heavy machinery, portrayal of my artistic prowess in drawing, my Indonesian-Chinese norms/customs, management and leadership knowledge and the desire to give back to the society.

In the business industry, I have been able to put my two passions into practice by helping out in my father`s heavy machinery business, and also running of my own nail salon and a boutique. Together, the nail salon and the boutique and the family business of heavy machinery have enabled me to exhibit my business creativity, knowledge and skills. The nail salon provides an opportunity to demonstrate my gift and prowess of drawing and art; therefore, becoming not just a source of income but also a place where I can self-actualize as an artist. On the other hand, the family business offers me an opportunity to offer my advice and directions, based on leadership and management principles and ideals that I have studied in school. This helps in solving the daily business problems ethically and efficiently.

Subsequently, it has been my firm belief that, apt family values have a tremendous impact on personal and professional development of any person. It is the best premise for being a good person, a decent relative and an excellent leader. I stand for the transmission of the family values to the sphere of professional life. The profound value of the Indonesian and Chinese cultures is that, the child has to be a worthy representative of the family in the eyes of the parents, and in the eyes of society. In other words, belonging to the Indonesian-Chinese culture like me, means doing everything for the welfare of the family and its members.  Indonesian-Chinese culture views respect, tolerance, and acceptance as the key elements of good family values that create a strong family-oriented business with effective leadership. The Indonesian-Chinese culture also advises that all its family-oriented representatives should accept conflicts as a natural component of any type of relationships, evaluate all the premises before acting, plan all the details of any action in advance, and use the experience of the past to form the future.

The above mentioned Indonesian-Chinese family-oriented values, closely relate to the major ethical theories presented by Peter G. Northouse (2013) in his book Leadership: Theory and Practice. The major similarity lies in the understanding of leadership as the reflection of the internal nature and peculiarities of the behavior of the leader. Correspondingly, a strong personal ethical component of the leader's conduct is the major precondition of ethical leadership. The ethical theories imply the fact that the behavior of the ethical leader is to be constructed either on the understanding of the consequences of the leader’s actions, or on the responsibilities and the duties controlling the actions of the leader (Northouse, 2013, p. 424).  The essence of the major ethical theories creates a clear parallel with the family-oriented values proclaimed by the Indonesian-Chinese culture.  Evidently though, the family values of the Indonesian-Chinese culture are similar to the ethical theories in a way that assumes the presence of a set of rules and responsibilities governing the conduct of the family member and evaluation of its potential consequences and effects on the wellbeing of the family and the family business.

In contrast, the Indonesian-Chinese values differ from the pattern of ethical egoism introduced by Northouse and truly resemble the patterns of ethical utilitarianism and ethical altruism.  The ethical egoism is a principle which posits that all persons ought to act from their own self-interest and not the interests of others. The argument here is that, we should be able to make ourselves as happy as possible, without caring how others conduct or feel about their lives. This is because we have no moral obligations whatsoever to others.

On the other hand, ethical utilitarianism is an egalitarian principle where the happiness of everyone counts equally (Wells, 2010). It posits that actions are viewed as being right if they bring about happiness and they are also considered wrong if they cause unhappiness. In other words, an act is said to be morally or ethically correct if the decisions and actions taken are going to benefit the people by maximizing the good and minimizing the bad. Basically, this framework focuses on the outcomes, results or goals.

Subsequently, ethical altruism refers to the living and doing things for the benefit of others. An activity or an action is viewed as being moral or ethical if is it geared towards the welfare of a society. This is to say that, we have obligations to advance the happiness and lessen or even eradicate the pains of other people in the society.

These two later theories (ethical utilitarianism and altruism) and the Indonesian-Chinese main principle of doing or living for the benefit of the family and the society, which  implies the creation of something good for a large number of people and the promotion of the interest of others go hand in hand. This principle of living for others’ needs and interests reflects my strive to keep up the business matters in order to improve the living standards of my family and protect the interests of the community, by means of providing quality products and services. My values also dictate the moral responsibility and obligation to do what is right for my family and my business.

My Indonesian-Chinese upbringing dictates that, personality and values would deeply affect not only one`s family and personal life but also their success in business. The Indonesian and Chinese moral education proclaims virtue based personal and business relations. It has also been argued that correct leadership decisions based on the principles of ethical utilitarianism and ethical altruism positively influence the achievements in the sphere of professional development (Northouse, 2013). In other words, my identification with these values leads me to constantly self-improve, encourage my workers to demonstrate their best qualities, and make their work more productive. In turn, this will lead to the demonstration of the ethical leadership impacting the conduct of my family members and workers and reveal the cultural and moral code of the Indonesian-Chinese culture.    

My decision to support my parents' business of heavy machinery, and to run my own nail salon and a boutique, has clearly formed the field of my potential professional development. This is because it offers me an opportunity to advice my parents on the possible ways of improving their services, lending a hand in the offering of these services and thus being able to help my family get money for their wellbeing and at the same time provide services to the community. In addition, my nail and boutique business not only enables me to offer services and goods to the community, but also brings me income which I can help my family with and also offer to charity. All these are in line with my professional and personal mission statements.

In spite of the ethical leadership path I have chosen, I do realize that it has possible ethical challenges, as well. The major possible ethical challenge is the fact that the ethics of one’s culture can be different from the ethics of another person’s culture. This is especially important in terms of the differences between the free Western culture and a more conservative Eastern culture. Nevertheless, respect, tolerance, and acceptance encouraged by the Indonesian-Chinese culture are vital in reaching ethically correct decisions. Additionally, the ethical conflicts of the Western and Eastern cultures need to be perceived as a natural part of the communication process of the two cultures. In order to handle the cross-cultural challenge, it is vital to find the intersections of the ethical principles of the two cultures.

In terms of business and professional development, dealing with people of different cultures and values demands setting a common business principle of tolerant leadership. This enables you to accept and embrace other people’s opinions and ideas for consideration, during your decision making. This brings togetherness and the feeling of being valued. These shared feelings; helps reduce the dependency on the altruists through shared responsibility and hard work towards helping each other achieve his/her respective goal in life.

Today, contemporary leadership has become an art of influencing other people, and also inspiring them to the achievement of the necessary goals. Furthermore, Kouzes and Posner (2008) suggest that people tend to follow the business leader because the leader offers a way to satisfy their professional needs and shows them the direction of further development.

Lest we forget, ethical leadership does not mean that you ignore the business losses and profits, but rather it encourages putting into consideration the purpose of the action and its moral values. It involves the leading and acting ethically all the time. This ethical leadership needs to be built on the principles of openness, firmness, courage, curiosity, the ability to listen to other people, attentiveness, critical evaluation, confidence, and flexibility. Ethical leadership is vital because it creates the feeling and the climate of belonging to an organization; it affords the self respect and also sets high moral standards for the organization. To achieve these elements, ethical leadership needs to be focused on the results, professional and personal experience, and be free from any type of cultural prejudice.

In conclusion, leaders need to have a strong influence on the conduct of their workers and family members in a way that will proclaim the major ethical values. The role of leaders is to share the values of ethical leadership, preserve the values of their culture, improve their business and, therefore, enhance the living standards of their families and others. It is the best way to realize one’s complex personal and professional mission statements.

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