Ethics, Morals, and Values Defined

As we start this journey into EMVleadership, it is wise to ensure we all have a baseline understanding of the three cornerstone words of where my blog posts will come from: Ethics, Morals, and Values (EMV).

I always like to start with an authoritative source of information so the definitions I present come from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary that has been in publication since 1828. Unlike many online dictionaries or sources, it is less-frequently adjusted to fit the present culturally and politically-correct interpretation.

Ethics is defined as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. It can also be the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group [professional ethics]. It is also a guiding philosophy and can be a set of moral issues or aspects.

Now that the baseline definition is presented, let me expose you to my personal and professional definition of Morals. Morals is simply what is right and wrong and is based upon what you have as personal values and beliefs. It should be bounded by the laws, societal norms, and perhaps any faith beliefs that you have.

For me, I am a Catholic Christian and was raised in a law-abiding military family. It was clear to me from jump, what Ethics was and how I should stay inline with it across my life. As I matured into adulthood and went into the US Air Force, I also learned what the Air Force Core Values, Code of Conduct, and professional ethical expectations of me were. I married my best friend Kerry Marie a few decades ago and I was exposed to her understanding and expectations of ethics as well. Hers were impacted by her Christian beliefs, Medical career, and life experiences.

So, my ethics has been impacted by many influences across the years. Though it is dynamic at some level

, my ethics is steadfast and about right and wrong based upon my faith, my values, and the laws of our land. My ethics has not weakened based upon cultural and societal adjustments in my life, though my tolerance for other people’s interpretation of ethics has grown slightly.  At times, I have openly conflicted with others who have flexible ethics and believed they were leading people effectively. For me, ethics is black and white and should be inflexible for the overall good of society and its participants.

Morals is defined as of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior, conforming to a standard of behavior. In my lifetime, I have observed that morals are closely associated with sexuality, behavior, choices, and actions. Now that you know I am a Christian, you should get some sense of what my moral position is. In the EMV arena, morals are a challenge as they seem to ebb and flow with the shifts in culture. Presently in America, we are being polarized with morals; either you are of the “anything goes” camp or you are in the “strict, structured, or prudish” camp.

I find it challenging to write about morals. In 2019 America, it is too easy to become ensnared, labeled, discounted or destroyed for identifying what you have concern or conflict with. I tend to take a long game approach to morality today. If we let it degrade too far, what will the future generations behave like and what will our nation be known for?

Our friends at Merriam-Webster have defined values as something such as a principle or quality that is intrinsically valuable or desirable. I have always recognized values as what do you hold dear and that you would not negotiate that principle or belief.  Often

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, we hear the phrase, “he/she has good values.” Typically, when you peal a phrase like that back you find that the person was raised with a value structure in their family that was aligned with their traditions, culture, or faith.

At one time in America, we were a predominantly Christian nation and many of us were raised with our values foundation built upon the 10 Commandments. From this foundation, our families, culture, and society have impacted those values to shape us into the adults we are. The impact of family on values installation cannot be understated as parents are the first educators of children. Additionally, the role of the education system to mature on that instilled value system is critical to the values formation we all desire.

There is a lot of discussion today that values are not taught as much as caught. This is something that I 100% agree with; I am a huge proponent of learning by watching and the responsibility of all adults to lead by example.

So, now you know where I stand on this critical topic of Ethics, Morals, and Values in leadership. I will work to bring you content that helps us learn and grow in our understanding and value of these influential topics in our world.  My goal is to improve your awareness, understanding, and use of EMV in your leadership. Stay strong ~JETSR


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