Challenges of Ethics
Ethics is an important part of human life, especially in the management and execution of public service. This entails the adherence to socially set standards and philosophies. With individuals having to provide these services, they often have to forego their personal beliefs and values for those set by society. In the end, it becomes difficult to tell an individual from their role in society as a public servant. They become so intertwined that they sometimes appear to be one element rather than two different components. This may present various advantages and disadvantages at the same time. They may face criticism or lose jobs as they are ethically called upon to make decisions and take responsibility for their actions. They may also enjoy certain privileges that come with their positions. At the end of the day, it should be appreciated that they are individual persons who make up society. They should, therefore, except in special cases, be treated equally as any persons.
Ethical conduct and consideration are often required in virtually every actions and dealing that an individual undertakes. This is regardless of whether the issue is done under the cover of individuality or as a matter of public duty. The main reasoning behind the general requirement that every person be ethical in everything that they do is that one person should not place their individual needs and goals before the well-being of the society at large. They should understand that the welfare of the society is the element that binds people together. It is, in fact, the thing that keeps the individual safe or fulfilled at the personal level. A society that lacks the adherence to ethics is comprised of persons who are also not compliant with the ethics that are expected of them. Even so, people often face different challenges in their quest to abide by the rules and standards that have been set by the society while trying to move towards the achievement of their goals. In public service, the most common challenge in ethics is the attempt to strike a balance between the societal individual and the ‘self’.
In the delivery of public service, people are often filled with the desire to make the society in which they live and serve even better than it is when they attain their positions. This, of course, is the blanket reason behind their appointment to the public service position. Public managers are given various duties that are directed to the aid of other people within society. These duties vary depending on the particular positions, job descriptions and even location in which the people execute them. However, virtually every managerial duty in public service calls for several basic requirements in the carrying out of these duties. These include trust, value, and integrity. Every public servant is required to observe these ethical elements in playing their roles irrespective of their personal views.
These expectations usually have the tendency to ignore the individuality of the public service manager. Instead, the general rule appears to be the cementing of expectations that have been set on the basis of numerous likings and preferences of people from a wider category. This includes differences in race, economic class, religion, and even personal ambitions. Even more in the execution of the roles given to public managers, they are expected to undertake individual responsibility for decision making and behavior. This, therefore, imposes the duty upon the person to make sure that the decisions that they make are appropriate. There are, however, instances when the public manager makes certain decisions bearing the confidence that they have made the right choice. They expect to be appreciated and taken positively in such cases. Instead, they may end up getting bashed with criticism, insults and even a loss of their job when they make such decisions or undertake certain actions. The effect of this is that the public manager becomes demoralized or afraid. They, therefore, end up failing to act and maintain the status quo. This, considered from a wider point of view, may translate in an entire system failing, with poor services dominating the scene.
Public managers may sometimes conceal their discrete, self-centered motives of joining the public service or acting in a certain manner. This often presents a problem in many public service systems as it becomes exceedingly difficult to tell the interests of the public manager apart from those that they would be representing for the society as a whole. Such an effect is often related to the activities and principles of the legendary philanthropic Robin Hood. The Robin Hood effect takes place when a public manager or servant takes it upon themselves to further the interests of the society through the resources that are owned by the government. This may be said to often exist in societies in which the governments act selfishly or unsatisfactorily in the eyes of the public. It may, however, also be equated to the existence of an ulterior motive in the positive actions of a public manager. An individual may appear to be simply acting in the interest of the society yet they are promoting their own interests. For instance, it has always been a common feature in public service for certain people to embezzle public funds in the guise of promoting the funding and oversight of various projects.
Public managers ought to be considered as being human beings. This means that they are supposed to be considered as having the same state and needs as every other person. They are the citizens of the countries in which they serve and are subject to the laws and customs that are existent within the given jurisdiction. Even more, they are entitled to expressing and experiencing their innate feelings as human beings. They share the freedoms and liberties that are enjoyed by every other citizen. They are entitled to their right to privacy, dignity, and respect. In return, they should also treat every person with respect and dignity while respecting their privacy. It is simply not enough that they are public managers and that they are entitled to act with authority as they wish.
A perfect example of this concept is the case of Anthony Weiner, a former New York House of Representative. While both in and out of office, sent several women pictures of sexually explicit content via his mobile phone. This was extremely controversial in the public arena and considered an aspect of gross misconduct that Weiner had to resign from his office. Even more, his later efforts to rejoin the government office were thwarted when the people refused to vote him into office. It was significant that he was a House Representative for the state of New York. He was considered equal to every other citizen in the United States. This may also be related to the case in which Apple Inc. refused to allow the access of private data in a criminal case. Apple disregarded the fact that it was issued by a public agent and sought to protect the privacy rights of the criminal instead. The individual is the basic unit of society.
Public managers enjoy certain privileges over the ordinary citizen. These privileges are the subjects of their public management positions. As a result, such privileges often part with the person upon their exit from the public office and roles that they hold. Having these privileges, however, calls for the observance of a certain standard of professionalism that applies to the individuals within the specific category in which they are. Such professionalism is the product of certain resolutions that are made by society. The main reason for this is that the interests of society must take precedence. As a result, any action that is contrary to the set norms is looked at as a move away from the stability that exists in society. It is, fundamentally, no excuse that an individual is a public manager. Instead, the reasoning that is take in these cases is that they are human beings just like other persons. Except for a few public managers such as presidents and judiciary executives of certain countries who are exempted from matters such as criminal proceedings, public managers are often held responsible for their actions. This, however, tends to present a challenge as many public managers employ the defense that they were only acting in their line of duty. This then calls for a complex process of determining whether they were, in fact, acting in the capacity of their public offices.
Another issue also presents itself in the challenge of balancing between the self and the societal position of the individual. This commonly takes place in cases in which certain ethical dilemmas exist. For instance, many public managers are faced with issues that are in contrast with their beliefs and values. This then requires that the individual takes a stand in the matter as they cannot exist on two conflicting sides. An application of such may be a case in which a member of Congress is a staunch Christian with a strong opposition towards homosexuality but is required by his people to pass a law that legalizes gay marriages. The individual may find himself consenting to the request by the people simply because they would want to be reelected into office in subsequent elections. They are just being human.
The most common challenge in ethics is the attempt of discerning between a person in the service of society and themselves. People become public servants as they desire to make society better. They are expected to act ethically regardless of their individual views. It is imposed upon them to make decisions on behalf of the society and take individual responsibility for them. The problem with is that they sometimes make the decisions but suffer consequences such as dismissal when they were, in fact, acting on behalf of the society. Their persons are attacked instead. Some public servants serve their selfish interests in guise of public service. They are thought to be helping society yet they steal from its people. Public servants should be treated just as any other person. In spite of the various privileges that come with their positions, they should respect the right of individuals to dignity, privacy and respect. They should not act arbitrarily. They should also be treated in the same manner as they are human like other persons. It should be made clear whether their actions are done under their public position or individually to ensure responsibility. In other instances, public managers fail to strike a balance or recognize themselves as their own persons and society’s employees. They may, as a result, forfeit their personal principles and values for those of society. This is usually done for their own benefit.