7CO03 Personal effectiveness, ethics, and business acumen


This report aims at showcasing some of my experiences in the field of personal effectiveness, ethics and business acumen.

Each of the 6 questions is divided into small sub-sections, each for a different experience in the field of interest. For an in-depth view of a situation, please refer to the evidence mentioned in every sub-section with the help of the evidence locator form.

Except for a few outliers, all the evidence documents are divided into four sections: background, problem, decision, and outcome. The idea behind is to not only talk about something I did or had an influence on related to the topic but also illustrate the reasoning behind and the circumstances surrounding the endeavour.

[Question 1] Critically assess different ethical standpoints on people practice and the maintenance of high standards of ethical behaviour

In the podcast “Ethics: A leadership imperative”, recorded by CIPD, Keith Watson says “At the end of the day what we want, certainly as an institute in my view, and as a profession, is for our members to do the right thing rather than necessarily follow any particular policy process or code.” (CIPD, 2017).

This statement resonates with my behaviour, and I agree with the view that ethics are not as subjective as we may believe (Wesleyan University, no date), those two aspects made me both very prone to aim straight at what I find ethical and in need of a good moral compass to understand when I may be at fault.

What follows are some experiences that had me go through the concept of ethics, posing me in front of choices that can have a large impact on the members of my network, and how I managed them.

[02.00] The GDPR Privacy Policy

The GDPR can be a dreadful policy to comply with, and even years into it becoming law, it is still difficult to fully implement it, especially for small and medium businesses (Espinoza, 2020). In my organisation, it was no different, and the fact that every member is a student – even if possessing high professional aptitudes – could be a curse as well as a blessing.

The long overdue implementation of GDPR finally arrived during my mandate as a Vice-President of Administration, and I found some resistance to the basic principles that we needed to comply with given that they required more work on the volunteers’ end.

But even understanding and taking into account the line between needed efforts and overdoing it, I was convinced that we were not doing enough, prompting me to limit even more my own freedom of action, as well as that of other members, to ensure that every piece of data given by users was going to be treated accordingly.

This decision was tough to take and prompted some opposition at first, but over time, those that were members when I applied it, slowly became the future leaders and understood the necessity for the changes I introduced. The alternative ideas about how to implement GDPR were sufficient and ethical, I just believed we could do more, and so we did.

[07.00] The request from Ukrainian alumni

Speaking of difficult stands, this was particularly complex. When a group of alumni from Ukraine asked the network to showcase a video regarding the situation after the Russian invasion it was clear that we were dealing with feelings, and rightfully so. On the other hand, we had to understand to which point it was in favour of Ukrainians, and when it was crossing the line of being hateful towards our Russian members.

Russia is clearly the oppressor in this scenario, but we also had to take into account that those members we had in Russia went to a great extent, and risked having to serve jail time, to help our friends in Ukraine. This aspect is also recognised by our active Ukrainian members which also disagreed with the message and ideas portrayed by the video.

We can’t dismiss the behaviour of our alumni as wrong, but between different ethical standpoints, we agreed on not showing the message, without denying the reasons behind it but condemning the necessity to put blame on those that helped us while exposing themselves to great risks. A tough decision to take, but we found it truer to the nature of our organization and in line with the ethics that represent us.

[08.00] The redistribution of a competition’s money

What to do when you offer an opportunity for money, and then you cannot deliver it anymore? This was what we had to decide upon and, although severely less meaningful than the decision regarding the Ukrainian issue showcased above, here we had to deal with different standpoints, both ethical and reasonable, and we had to make a quick choice on them.

The money wasn’t ours anymore, and even though returning the money is not always an immediate correct answer (Walsh, 2021), there was no impediment for us, and in our case, it seemed extremely incorrect to keep it. That being said, the doubt was on the “how”.

In the end, I settled for a correction to my idea, which I accepted fully as the people proposing made me realise that my suggested way of dealing with the issue was indeed ethical, but could be improved rather than changed, increasing the correctness of the said decision.

[17.00] The evacuation project for Ukraine

The war in Ukraine is undoubtedly a mark in our recent history and many decisions in regards to ethics were taken about it. Here I felt the need to act in regard to the situation, but I was facing a stale organization, suffering in the swamps of indecision. To move alone, or to wait and move as a group?

To wait for a decision, even in this case, is not unethical, but on a human level I found it hard to wait, and this prompted me to start a project as an individual. Taking such a decision was made easier by the fact that I was holding no leadership position anymore. According to CIPD, professionalism and ethics go hand in hand (CIPD, no date), but here my moral compass saw more professionalism than ethics, and this prompted me to action.

Waiting while assessing how to proceed makes sense for a business, but as an individual, I could act on my own without having to. I understood both courses of action but waiting for the safe choice would have been below high standards of ethical behaviour as I had the chance, the capabilities, and the support to carry out this project, all of this without hurting the association.

[Question 5] Reflect on levels of self-awareness, self-management and continuous self-improvement, leading to improved organisational success and career progression.

Being self-aware enables self-management (Porter, 2019), and if you can manage yourself you can improve over time, and a more prepared individual can go a long way for a company. All of this, in my opinion, is only achievable with a certain degree of introspection, which is a valuable management skill the benefit of which has been tested over and over (Holley, 2022) both in and outside the sphere of work.

What follows are some examples of how I used those abilities above to re-think myself as a person, my work, or my career path…………..

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