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Running Head: ETHICS LEADERSHIP INTERVIEW
Ethics Leadership Interview
Alice M. Foster
LEAD505 Organizational Leadership and Ethics
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The purpose of this paper is to introduce a leader, Chief Foulson, that I feel emulates the
philosophy that ethics is at the heart of leadership. This paper documents the rise to
leadership, the impact that his leadership has had on others and the experiences which
had led to his moral orientation. This paper also discusses the current ethical climate of
his organization as well as relating his leadership to the current readings from the text. In
summary I will summarize some of his leadership attributes based on personal
observations and the interview.
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Table of Contents
Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 4
Initial Meeting ..................................................................................................................... 4
Work History ...................................................................................................................... 5
My Observations of Leadership in Action .......................................................................... 7
Interview Highlights and Observations .............................................................................. 8
AFJROTC Core Values ...................................................................................................... 9
Leading by Example ........................................................................................................... 9
Organizational Ethics ........................................................................................................ 10
Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 11
References ......................................................................................................................... 12
Appendix A ....................................................................................................................... 13
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The purpose of this paper is to introduce someone who I consider to be a great
leader and to evaluate this leader’s perspective on ethics in leadership based on the
information I have learned throughout the Southwester College course Ethics in
Leadership. In particular I will analyze this Leader based on personal observations,
experience, education and a formal interview which I conducted with him. Through a
discussion about his thoughts on ethics and the part that ethics plays in leadership and
organizational effectiveness I hope to impart a realistic sense of the impact that our own
ethics has on everyone around us.
“Leadership is not a person or a position. It is a complex moral relationship
between people, based on trust, obligation, commitment, emotion, and a shared vision of
the good” (Ciulla, 2004, p. xv) there can be no discussion of leadership philosophy
without looking at the ethics of the leader and the impact their ethics has on the
individuals around them. Ciulla (2004) also states that “ethics lie at the heart of all
human relationships and hence at the heart of the relationship between leaders and
followers” (p. xv) a discussion of ethics would be incomplete without understanding that
honor, integrity, truthfulness, compassion and morals are all critical elements to evaluate
when understanding the ethics of other people.
I first met Chief Master Sergeant Foulson when he was a Sergeant on the Wichita
Police Department and I was a new officer. Even prior to meeting him I had heard many
stories about him, that he was the best Sergeant to work for, that he treated everyone
fairly, that he was a mentor to his troops, that he had high expectations but everyone was
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willing to work hard for him. It seemed impossible to me that anyone could engender
that much respect and that everyone spoke so highly of him even when they had nothing
to gain from it.
When I met him for the first time I completely understood why he was so well
respected. As an instructor for one of my training sessions he easily become the favored
instructor for all the students because he never once made anyone in the class feel like
they were less than him, he elevated each person to his level of understanding and made
each one of us feel as if the only difference between him and us was the information that
he was about to teach us. Ciulla (2004) states that “transforming leaders have very strong
values. They do not water down their values and moral ideals by consensus, but rather
they elevate people by using conflict to engage followers and help them reassess their
own values and needs” (p. 15) when I read this sentence I immediately thought of Chief
Chief Foulson retired from the Active Duty Air National Guard as the
Superintendent of the 184th Security Forces Squadron with the 184th Intelligence Wing,
Kansas Air National Guard, McConnell AFB, Kansas. He was born in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania and graduated from Central-Burden High school (KS) in May 1988. Chief
Foulson began his military career in February 1989, when he enlisted in the Kansas Air
National Guard. After completing Basic Training and graduating from the Security Police
Academy at Lackland AFB, TX, he returned to the 184th Tactical Fighter Group.
Chief Foulson served as a traditional guardsman with the 184th Security Police
Flight. He has served as Law enforcement patrolman, NCOIC of Personnel Security,
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Squad leader, ANG Raven Program Manager and is currently the Security Forces
Superintendent. In February 1991, Chief Foulson was activated with the 184th Security
Police Flight during Operation DESERT STORM. He was also mobilized and deployed
in October 2001 for Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and Operation NOBLE EAGLE
with the 184th Security Forces Squadron.
Chief Foulson left a thirteen year career with the Wichita Police Department, after
attaining the position of Sergeant and Watch Commander, to become full time active duty
and start up the first full time ANG Raven Program. Within a year he was also named as
the ANG Raven Program Manager with 25 full time Ravens at home station and 150
Ravens Nationwide. Chief Foulson spent two years as a District Asset for the second
largest retailer in America managing seven stores in two states before accepting his
current position as the AFJROTC Instructor at a south suburban High School in South
Chief Foulson has earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Quality Management
and a Master of Science in Leadership from Southwestern College. He is currently
pursuing an MBA.
Chief Foulson's decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, AF
Commendation Medal with 1 device, AF Achievement Medal, the USAF Outstanding
Unit Award with Valor 5 devices, Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal with 5
devices, USAF Recognition Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal with 1 device,
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal,
AF Overseas Short Tour Ribbon, Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon, USAF
Longevity Service Ribbon with 3 devices, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with 2 ‘M’
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devices, USAF NCO PME Graduate Ribbon, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
with 1 device, USAF Training Ribbon, Kansas Outstanding Air Guardsman Ribbon,
Kansas Emergency Duty Service Ribbon with 1 device, Kansas Commendation Ribbon,
Kansas Service Medal, Kansas Achievement Ribbon.
My Observations of Leadership in Action
Although since our initial meeting I have not had the opportunity to work for
Chief Foulson again, I have over the years been able to closely observe his leadership and
the impact he has on those around him. One particular instance was his dedication to
pursuing higher education, he was tenacious about the importance that education has in
all of our lives, and he inspired me to continue my education by leading by example. He
always said that anything worth doing is worth doing right and that anything worth
having was hard, he was right. It was amazing to see all the troops that followed in his
shoes because of his passion and influence, by the time he retired from the Unit, eight of
his direct reports had begun pursuing their undergraduate degrees.
I have observed Chief Foulson in the midst of a crisis. When the tornado struck
Greensburg, KS Chief Foulson was the Critical Incident Commander responding for the
Kansas Air National Guard and was on scene within two hours of the tornado touchdown.
He spent three tireless days bringing in troops, securing the devastated areas, establishing
command centers and organizing relief agencies. He often rotated out his troops and
brought in relief without leaving station for the first thirty six hours. When things went
wrong or issues were brought up that were logistical in nature, Chief Foulson was the one
who pointed out their primary mission, to provide any and all assistance needed to all
their citizens who had just lost all of their possessions and loved ones. No matter what it
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took to get the job done they would get what was needed and he would not accept
After years of closely observing Chief Foulson I can state unequivocally that he
walks the talk of a great leader. He understands the complexities of the relationship
between himself and his followers. He also understand the dramatic impact and influence
he can have on peers and supervisors and he does what he needs to do to elevate his
troops to their highest potential, uses his influence to become more effective with the
command staff and always manages to focus on the mission while meeting the needs of
his personnel at the same time. He is selfless when it comes to truly exceptional needs,
but does not bow down to political pressure.
Interview Highlights and Observations
One of the most striking things I noticed throughout my interview with the Chief
is that during the entire interview, even though I know about his history and the things he
has accomplished, the Chief only focused on his current position and what he is doing
today. He successfully established and developed the first full time Raven program in the
Air National Guard, he was The Program Manager for the entire Air National Guard and
he managed seven very large retail locations in two states. He has a very impressive
resume, but his new position as the AFJROTC Instructor is what is important to him.
As an example, he once was having issues with a Sergeant who was constantly
riding on the award he had one two years prior. He finally had to tell this Sergeant that it
was great that he one the award two years ago, but it no longer mattered ‘What Have You
Done Today’? This is the motto he has lived by, everything you have done before
doesn’t count if you aren’t doing anything today to better yourself or to impact the lives
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of those around you. So, in essence the entire interview centered on his current position,
the current ethical environment of his administration and his thoughts about what he can
do to influence it.
AFJROTC Core Values
The AFJROTC Core Values are the same as the Air Force (Interview) Integrity
First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do. The AFJROTC Creed is “I will
not lie cheat or steal or tolerate those among us who do” (Interview). This is the height
of ethical expectations and his students, at the beginning of every class, stand at attention
and recite this message to reinforce the concept of never allowing others to do what we
wouldn’t allow ourselves to do. The purpose of AFJROTC is to ‘build citizens of
character’ (Interview), the Chief will not do this any other way than through leading by
Leading by Example
When setting the example for others to follow I can think of no greater example
than the Chief leaving a lucrative civilian position where he didn’t feel he was making a
difference and taking a position as a teacher. “Here I have the ability to help early teens
find direction, fulfill their goals and broaden their perspective on what is available to
them whether it is college, trade school, the military or other civilian occupations. I have
the chance to really make a difference in the lives of so many students. The quote that I
am known throughout the school for is “What do you want to do or be and how do we get
you there”! The Chief is more interested in bringing up others to their full potential than
personal gain; his greatest desire is to have kids come back in ten years to tell him how
successful they have become.
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During the interview I asked numerous questions about organizational ethics and
one specific thing kept coming up over and over. In the AFJROTC unit the students are
constantly taught to be ethical and have integrity, focus on what needs to be done and
take care of business. They are taught to follow the rules and be respectful, that if you
want the rules changed there are ways to go about getting them changed, but that even if
you think the rule is ridiculous you are held accountable to doing what you are supposed
to do. The current administration is giving in to the students because the students think
that the rule about not being able to use IPod’s in school is ridiculous, so rather than
trying to get the rule changed they just ignore the rule and do it anyways. The teachers
and administrators are turning a blind eye to this practice and in fact have recently
announced that the students can listen to their IPod’s between classes even though the
written policy strictly prohibits the use of IPod’s during school.
The Chief stated during the interview that this seemingly small unethical decision
is teaching the kids that it is ok to break the rules and not do what is required and that
eventually the authorities will give in; that the students get to pick and choose which
rules they will follow. The long-term implications of this practice are to set the kids up
for failure and to give them implicit permission to break the rules when they don’t agree
with them. He doesn’t understand why nobody else seems to understand that this
unethical decision will cascade into an organizational culture of unethical decision
making. But, he is not giving up, he will continue to focus on the ethics of his students,
voice his opinion in an appropriate manner and work to influence other administrators
into making ethical decisions especially when they are the hardest decisions to make.
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Chief Foulson emulates what I consider to be an ethical leader. He influences
from a position of respect rather than power, he elevates those around him to become
something better than what they are, demands excellence, holds him and others
accountable and truly cares. He is passionate about his vision for the future, takes
responsibility for the failures of his unit and celebrates their successes as their own. If
you could just listen to and see the interaction between him and his students you would
truly see what it means to see a great leader in action.
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Ciulla, J.B. (2004) Ethics, the Heart of Leadership. Westport, CT: Praeger
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Ethics Leadership Interview Chief Foulson
1. Can you fill me in a little on your background, what have you done that
has led you to be in a position of leadership?
I was with the Wichita Police Department for thirteen years and the last position I held
was as a Sergeant. I was a Watch Commander over one of the four bureaus and
supervised thirty officers. I was also a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force. Prior to
retiring I was the Squadron Superintendent overseeing approximately 100 personnel and
was the Raven Program Manager overseeing 150 Ravens located in 44 different states. I
am currently the AFJROTC Instructor at south suburban Chicago Public School with
2. Can you give me some background on your education and why you
actively sought out your current position as the AFJROTC instructor for
ABS High School?
I have an Associates degree in criminal justice, a Bachelor of Science in Business Quality
Management, a Masters of Science in Leadership and am three classes away from
completing my MBA. After spending two years in the civilian sector the big question that
loomed for me was who am I influencing and how am I making a difference. The only
answer that came to me was the corporate office. I heard about the AFJROTC program
from a friend of mine and it sounded intriguing. I was looking for a position where I
could utilize my 20+ years of military and leadership experience and make the largest
impact…in essence I wanted to make a difference.
3. What do you consider to be your most influential position?
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As a JROTC Instructor. Here I have the ability to help early teens find direction, fulfill
their goals and broaden their perspective on what is available to them whether it is
college, trade school, the military or other civilian occupations. I have the chance to
really make a difference in the lives of so many students. The quote that I am known
throughout the school for is “What do you want to do or be and how do we get you
4. What does the word ethics mean to you?
To me ethics and integrity go hand in hand, doing the right thing even when no one is
watching. That when decisions are made, others benefit besides yourself. That you
continually ask yourself what is the right thing to do and why is it the right thing to do.
5. Do you believe that leaders should act out of genuine self interest or
should they subjugate their own interests for those of their followers?
I believe that one of the key traits of a great leader is to sacrifice yourself for your
people, setting the example for them to follow. Work harder, work longer, and always
make sure your people are taken care of. My students all know without a doubt that I
will never ask them to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.
6. What are the current ethical values of your organization?
Unfortunately we are going through a period of change and growth within the
organization. I say unfortunately because the administration is looking at feel good
reasons to change versus long term improvements and behaviors. If I were to grade the
current ethical values of my organization I would give a C trending downward. The
current administration does not understand the long-term implications of allowing the
students to undermine the rules and regulations and prefers to keep things calm by
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allowing the students to disregard any rules they do not like. The administration and the
majority of the teachers prefer to turn a blind eye and avoid confrontation with the
students rather than holding them accountable to following the policies of the district.
7. Does your organization have written expectations of moral behavior or a
policy and procedure to help in guiding moral/ethical decision making
Yes, we have policies in place and a very comprehensive district discipline handbook.
This handbook states specifically what the expectations are and what the possible
consequences are for breaking the rules.
8. Do you believe that leaders are ever entitled to exceptions to the rules
their followers have? Why or why not?
Absolutely not. That type of thinking is what creates the greatest ethical dilemmas,
leaders should be held to a higher standard, not a lower standard. People in an
organization will look to the leaders and if they see the leaders breaking the rules then
they will understandably think that it is ok for them to bend the rules and once you start
down that slippery slope it is hard to turn it around.
9. What are your personal ethical expectations of your employees?
To always do the right thing even when it is the hardest thing to do. If it can’t pass the
light of day test then it is probably the wrong thing to do. I ask them to set themselves
above the expectations.
10. Do your expectations often cause a conflict in your unit or within the
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Absolutely. My students sometimes don’t understand why they are held accountable for
certain things when other students in the school are not. They sometimes do not
understand my demand for self management when all their other teachers walk them
through or pass them through so that they can get the grade. I demand excellence in
everything we do, even when we fail it is an excellent learning opportunity, but in my
class they own everything they do because I do not do it for them. In AFJROTC our
motto is “To build better citizens for America”, we focus always on honor, integrity and
excellence. We follow the Air Force Core Values of Integrity First, Service Before Self
and Excellence in all we do!
11. Do you believe that the organization as a whole values the ethical
expectations as stated by your organization?
I believe they do, they just do not have the personal tools to back it up. In this current
climate the focus is on getting all the students to pass the standards based testing and we
are losing sight of developing the whole student as a productive member of society.
12. How would you characterize your moral compass or ethical foundation?
I would characterize it as straight and narrow. My moral compass is made up of my
upbringing in a Christian home, twenty plus years of public service and dedication to
others. I think that my moral compass became much more focused when I entered the
military, you are automatically held to a higher standard because of the position you
hold and everything you do is subject to public scrutiny.
13. If there were one thing you could change about the ethical culture of your
organization what would it be?
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Don’t be afraid to make tough decisions, hold the students accountable to the current
rules, set the bar high enough that the students have to work to meet expectations. The
one thing I would like to change the most is to give the administration foresight, where
they could actually look down the road and understand the injustice they are doing to the
students by setting them up to fail. We should be instilling traits of excellence instead of
14. Is there a leader in your life, either present or past, who has influenced
you to be the leader you are today? Do you emulate them and if so in
Yes, General McIlhenny. I worked for and with General McIlhenny for seventeen years.
As we both grew within the organization he always cared about his people and always
challenged them to do more. His concern for the mission was always counter balanced
with his concern for the individuals and he always met a challenge head on. He was the
type of leader that always stopped to talk to people in the shop rather than just the
supervisors and he knew everyone’s first names. He appeared to be listening to the
answers he was given and often took the information he gathered on the front lines and
challenged the supervisors to utilize the information to make the organization better.
15. If you allow the small seemingly inconsequential unethical behaviors to
be tolerated, what effect do you think this will have on the organization
The effects will be devastating. In the AFJROTC our Creed “I will not lie, cheat or steal
or tolerate those among us who do”, if only the entire school could adopt this same creed
to live by. It is bad enough when we do it ourselves, but it is devastating when we see
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others doing it and allow it to go unchecked, then it spreads like a cancer throughout the
organization and it would take a change in administration to get it back.
16. Can the ethical climate of an organization be changed? If so, how would
you do it?
First of all by setting the example. If the staff and administration aren’t willing to do
their job, then why should the students want to do their jobs? If we hold the staff and
administration responsible for enforcing the schools policies, then we instill a sense of
purpose and direction. It is only then that we will be able to hold the students
accountable for their actions; you have to start at the top when you want to change the
ethics of an organization. Anything else will be false.
17. What do you want people to remember you for?
Being tough but fair, being the one who wasn’t afraid to set the example and challenge
others to do the same. To genuinely care about your success and never allowing you to
cheat yourself out of your potential…