Can Ethics and Morality be Taught?

Management Fail
Management Fail

My 23 year-old daughter was interviewed today for a special company program that entails a huge raise and six months intensive training. All five of her managers and many of her co-workers wrote glowing letters of recommendation. Did I mention that she is 23?!

Since she was 10 years-old I took her to classes on Job Skills and Work Ethics that I taught for a university. She grew up soaked in Job Skills and Work Ethics. Is that why she is a gold collar employee? Can ethics and morality be taught?

This is an important question because American ethics and morality, especially on the leadership level, is in the crapper. While most Americans are probably more interested in getting ahead at work than doing the right thing, I am the opposite and have stubbornly clung to the conviction that you can’t have one-OVER THE LONG RUN-without the other.

Doing the right thing at work, treating others like human beings instead of targets for exploitation, is the foundation of good management. So can it be taught? As an academic subject?

You would think I could answer that question, but I have severe doubts. Some things can be taught but the essence, it seems to be, must be caught by close contact with older people who possess these qualities. I don’t think it can be faked. We know very well that “Don’t do as I do, do as I say” is shrugged off as hypocrisy by the young, who have mile-wide BS detectors.

I often wonder how my father became such a good man. He was orphaned at age 11 and had to leave school to work, practically speaking, as an indentured servant. I don’t know how he became such a good man, but I do know he never attended a class on work ethics or morality. I picked this up from him, but how?

Never, ever in his life did he lecture me about ethics or morality. But he modeled it, every day, all day, all his life. In the end, becoming a good person is a process and it is a process for which we alone are responsible. But it sure helps to have someone like my father to look up to.

Do you have kids? Do you interact with younger people? They are watching you; they are becoming like you-for better or worse.

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