Valerie Lemmie: The Case of Ethical Dilemmas Happened in Dayton City, USA
The following analysis involves a case study of ethical and leadership issues surrounding the decisions and actions of Ms. Valerie Lemmie, who was the City Manager of Dayton. It attempts to understand the various theories and models that can be applied to the ethical and social values involved in the decisions that had been taken during the period of 2001 to 2002 regarding the appointment of the new City Manager of Dayton. In the provided case study, there are various ethical issues that must be analyzed on the basis of Cooper’s model (Cooper, n. d.). The decisions made in this case study do not seem to conform to the acceptable ethical issues of the society.
Ms. Lemmie was the City Manager of Dayton, and she controlled many administrative and financial responsibilities for the city. However, when Mr. Mike Turner lost the mayorship position in the general elections, many conundrums happened between December 2001 to January 2002 that are not considered ethical for the city and the government. The newly opted Mayor Rhine Mclin was unable to make a plausible decision in time for the sake of Dayton and its citizen. Another conundrum that happened was the leak of news that Ms. Lemmie was offered a post of Chief Executive Officer by Birmingham, England. This news should not have come out in local media and TV, that puts a bad image on the administration of Dayton and USA that they were not able to handle their administrative issues to themselves and forced a senior official of their country to look out for a good position outside their country.
The newly elected Mayor and the Commissioners did not show their responsiveness to such a great issue just because Ms. Lemmie was connected to the opposition party and enjoyed a good relationship with former Mayor Mr. Mike Turner. They thought that this would put a negative impact on the citizens and their party officials. They took a long time to come to a decision of appointing a new City Manager for the city.
The late decision made by the Mayor and the Commissioners put a negative impact on the citizens of Dayton and the financial condition of the city. Due to this late decision many lawsuits and interventions were pending and that cause a big loss to the Civil Service Board of the city. Many disputes occurred due to this late decision over closing a fire station of Downtown Dayton. There was a need to formulate the new City Budget for the session and resolve the difficult budget issues for the proper operations and service delivery of the city. There was a need to initiate new strategies for managing the on-going budget constraints of the city so as to prevent the fiscal situation going worse. Many issues like this one that were directly connected to the office of City Manager happened in this time frame. Consequently, the City met heavy financial losses.
One of the ethical theories, which are applicable in this case is pragmatism. Under this theory is the concept of “ dramatic rehearsal” where decision makers conduct a series of imaginary thought experiments to visualize how their decisions could turn out (Johnson, 2001). The famous Philosopher John McVea insisted that ” dramatic rehearsal” differs in important ways from the calculative and deliberative approach, which is typically used in ethical decision making (Johnson, 2001). Dramatic rehearsal immerses the leader in the specifics of the situation instead of encouraging him or her to rely on abstract principles.
In the case of Valerie Lemmie, the Mayor and the Commissioners have had to induce a dramatic rehearsal in the appointment of City Manager. The Commissioners are not interested to appoint Ms. Lemmie as the City Manager of Dayton just because she supported the former Mayor, Mike Turner. The Commission thought that appointing Ms. Lemmie as a City Manager would not be a plausible decision and would affect the future consequences in the politics. However, they had to consider the dramatic rehearsal theory and, thus, appoint Ms. Lemmie because she was arguably the most appropriate candidate for the job at a time. The decision impacted the financial and social condition of Dayton city to a great extent.
Another Ethical theory that holds plausible in the case of Valerie Lemmie is Utilitarianism, which implies that any government or private department has to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people and it is based on the premise that ethical choices should be based on their consequences (Johnson, 2001). There are four steps involved in conducting a utilitarian analysis. First is to clearly identify the action or issue under consideration. Second is to specify all condition or group that might be affected by the action. Third is to determine the likely consequences both good or bad, and finally the fourth is to sum up the good and bad consequences (Johnson, 2001).
In the case of Valerie Lemmie the newly elected Mayor and the Commissioners have to think about the issue of appointing a new City Manager in the context of this ethical theory (Mill, 2007). City Manager was responsible for the various managerial and financial issues of the Dayton city. Various community groups, urban problems, city policies, and government finances were under the direct supervision of City Manager. The Commissioners and Mayor had taken a long time of a whole year (from Dec 2001 to Jan 2002) to decide the appointment of new City Manager and the City has faced some major losses in finance and administration. An impasse on reforms was proposed by the Civil Service Board due to pending discrimination lawsuits and intervention by the US department of Justice. Due to this late decision some disputes had generated over closing a fire station in downtown Dayton. Due to this issue long-term strategies for managing the City’s ongoing budget constraints must be developed and implemented to prevent the City’s fiscal situation going worse (Johnson, 2001)
Finally, the ethical theory of Justice as fairness can also be applied to the Valerie Lemmie case. The theory of justice as fairness implies guaranteeing of equal rights and opportunities behind the veil of ignorance (Amartya Sen, 1982). American and other democratic societies have been facing many political issues since their independence. Today there are many questions we as a society are facing like is it just to give more tax breaks to the rich than to the poor? Is it fair for Native Americans to be granted special fishing rights? During the last third of 20th century, Harvard Philosopher addressed these kinds of questions in a series of books and articles. He set out to identify certain principles that would increase cooperation in society made up of free and equal citizens. According to him: (a) Each person has equal right to same basic liberties, (b) Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions as: They must be attached to positions open to all under conditions of fair equality and opportunity, they are to provide the greatest benefits to the least advantaged members of society (Rawls, 2001).
In the case of Valerie Lemmie, the decision made by the Mayor and the Commissioners was rather pragmatic than ethical and not based on the ethical principle of justice as fairness for the sake of good to common people. On the other hand, Ms. Lemmie also approached a high position of another country, and media made this news a hike in the local newspapers and TV. This condition was not at all favourable for the City administration and Commission. In the coming passages, we will try to understand the various leadership theories that hold good in the Valerie Lemmie case (Justice as Fairness, 2001).
Transformational leadership depends on the existence of a robust ethical background. A transformation-oriented leader aims to improve the standards of morality in an organization by adding to the ethical values of the people, nurturing a more moral environment, promoting independent action, and serve for the benefit of all people (Johnson, 2001). Ms. Lemmie built a good reputation based on her delivery of excellent service results. Before her appointment to the position of City Manager of Dayton, she had accumulated a wealth of work experience particularly serving in a similar position as the City Manager of Petersburg, Virginia. In addition, she had occupied other executive positions, which earned her the reputation of a highly competent and professional public administrator.
Throughout her career, Ms. Lemmie was regarded as the epitome of change. She had managed to turn around the situation of the organization for the provision of service to the people in all her previous jobs. In the City of Dayton, she worked together with the local people through citizen and community groups, developed solutions to urban problems, oversaw the implementation of City policy, managed government monies, and provided continuity and support to the Mayor and the City Commission.
Transformational leadership involves result-orientation. Leaders set out to achieve certain organizational goals using the resources available to them within a specific timeframe. In the five-year period working for the City of Dayton, Ms. Lemmie attained recognition; both locally and regionally for her effort towards improving public welfare. Such recognition depicts that she was a result-driven individual who believed on making a positive impact on the lives of all the people.
Ms. Lemmie’s case indicates some aspect of authentic leadership theory (ALT). ALT generates a number of beneficial ethical outcomes that focus on its strong emphasis on the morality of actions (Johnson, 2001). Followers tend to follow the high ethical standards that authentic leaders set for them. For their part, authentic followers provide response that reiterates the ethical behavior of authentic leaders (Johnson, 2001). From the case, it is revealed that despite the infrequent disagreements and disputes over various policies, the citizens, employees and elected officials of the City of Dayton accorded Ms. Lemmie a great amount of respect and adoration.
Authentic leaders instill the spirit of competence, positivity and resilience in their followers (Johnson, 2001). These attributes help to achieve the principal aim of creating positive change in the organization. As for the case in question, Ms. Lemmie created good working relationships with the Mayor and City Commissioners of Dayton. It demonstrates her ability to gain the support of work partners by inculcating the culture of moral perspectives, values, and strong character in her work.
Enshrined in the case of Ms. Lemmie is the responsible leadership theory. At the center of the theory are the emerging issues of corporate social responsibility and the role of model character in leadership (Johnson, 2001). The theory suggests that leaders need to possess a character that indicates critical thinking skills, moral maturity, practice reflection, and can produce creative and ethical results. Leaders manifest their abilities in a myriad of unique roles that constitute stewardship, coaching, storytelling, change agency, good citizenry, and empowerment of culture (Johnson, 2001).
The case depicts that Ms. Lemmie is a responsible individual. She managed to meet the expectations of all the positions that she occupied in her career. In the City of Dayton, she was put in charge of 15 City departments, a workforce of 3, 000 full-time workers, and a budget of $700 million. Conversely, before working in the City of Dayton, Ms. Lemmie managed a group of 1, 000 workers and served 37, 000 city residents in Petersburg, Virginia. These examples illustrate that leaders are held responsible for the common good of people; in this case, city residents and employees.
If the newly appointed Mayor and his Commissioners approached the former Mayor, Mr. Mike Turner, then, the power vacuum in the position of City Manager could be avoided. Just because Ms. Lemmie had some healthy relationships with the previous Mayor, the Commissioners held their decision of appointing her as a new City Manager for the next session. This decision was not ethical at all and put a negative impact on the whole administration and commission of the city. The media intensified the predicament with the announcement that Ms. Lemmie had accepted a new position offered in Birmingham, England. The news tainted the image of the new city officials and should not have been leaked. It was the duty of new administration and commission to stop these kinds of rumours between the citizens. The administration and commission have had to come to a decision of appointing the City Manager as soon as possible, to stop any financial and social losses to the city.
Amartya Sen, B. W. (1982). Utilitarianism and Beyond.
Cooper, T. (n. d.). Understanding ethical decision-making. Retrieved October 20, 2014, from www. unf. edu: http://www. unf. edu/~g. candler/PAD6436/02. pdf
Justice as Fairness. (2001). Retrieved October 17, 2014, from pages. uoregon. edu/: http://pages. uoregon. edu/koopman/courses_readings/rawls_JasF. pdf
Mill, J. S. (2007). Utilitarianism .
Rawls, J. (2001). Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.
Stone, R. F. (2001). A Review of Servant Leadership Attributes: Developing a Practical Model.
Johnson, C. E. (2001). Meeting the ethical challenges of leadership: Casting light or shadow (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.