Organizational Ethics and Leadership Interview

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                        Ethics Leadership Interview

                               Submitted by

                             Alice M. Foster

               LEAD505 Organizational Leadership and Ethics

                           Southwestern College

                                May 2010
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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.

                                      Initial Meeting

       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


                                      Work History

        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

Chicago (Interview).

       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

anything less.

       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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Organizational Ethics

       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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                                      Appendix A

                       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

1900 students.

   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

accepting mediocrity.

   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

           what way?

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…

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