Professional standards of conduct are common in all professions. These standards serve to provide guidance for behavior and communication as these professionals perform their respective responsibilities. A similar thread runs through ethics in that they serve as a moral compass for how interpersonal interactions are conducted.
Ethics guide us to tell the truth, keep our promises, or help someone in need. We all have a framework of ethics underlying our lives. On a daily basis, they help us make decisions that create positive impacts and steer us away from unjust outcomes.
Phrases frequently associated with ethics include:
- Acting on your conscience
- Weighing choices and selecting the best option
- Honoring others and yourself
- Acting on organizational and personal values
- Behaving with Integrity
- Making moral distinctions between right and wrong
- Acting on agreed-upon principles
- Being Honest
- Acting within the scope of your responsibilities
- Doing the right thing
Educational leaders face significant ethical challenges. Examples may include responding to a situation where a student is being bullied, supervising a popular teacher who is underperforming, having to report recent declining test scores to the community, observing a fellow administrator gaslighting a colleague in public, or becoming aware of an inappropriate faculty-student relationship.
It may be particularly challenging to adhere to ethics during a crisis, but avoiding or postponing a response could make it worse. It is best to act in a way that promotes the common good and encourages trust rather than erosion of faith in administration. Even though some situations may require legal advice or consultation from a crisis expert, there are some general recommended practices:
- Be open and transparent
- Prioritize those impacted by the situation
- Fix the problem
Furthermore, School Board members, students, parents, and local community members all seem to have a stake in weighing in on the professional judgment of school leaders. That’s why it is essential that school leaders with administrative licenses are exceedingly familiar with ethical considerations within their purview. It is also incumbent on School Board members to be familiar with ethics for administrators and licensed educators to know the expectations for their leaders.
Of paramount importance is to understand that contributions to the common good, both personally and professionally, can have a lasting impact. Choosing an ethical lifestyle will ensure or at least greatly improve a positive impact. Leading by example is a wonderful way to start.
(My Own Business Institute, SCU.edu, Leavey School of Business, 2019, Santa Clara, CA)