Throughout a person's life, challenges are common and often frequent. These challenges will test one's values and ethics in multiple issues and scenarios. Though many individuals have several careers and challenges in life, a person develops and learns values and ethics in every aspect of life. This Essay will: (a) define values and ethics categories; (b) indentify sources of ethics; and (c) describe how one's professional values and ethics can influence career success.

Values and Ethics

This essay will define what values and ethics are, where they come from, and how they affect a person's life. The fact is that a person's values develop in all facets of life. Values and ethics are developed at home, school, peer groups, communities, jobs, churches, and every other area in life that one is involved in and represent an important influence that uses patterns in a person's behavior. Values are described as a professional's obligation to comply with rules of one's conduct, ethics, etiquette, and professional values and attitudes ("Ethics & Professional Responsibility", 2004, ¶ 2). Ethics is the study of the concepts involved in practical reasoning: good, right, duty, obligation, virtue, freedom, rationality, choice (Blackburn, 2008). Values and ethics can be organized into three categories of sources: (a) personal; (b) social; and (c) economical reasons.

Sources of Values and Ethics

Although values and ethics can be organized into different categories, with no clear-cut distinction between the groupings and, in fact, may build upon one another. A good term to describe this is "ethos," meaning "the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society" ("Ethos", 2009). This ethos, or fundamental character, runs throughout a person, a society, or organization's core.


At the base of this character are personal values and ethics. These are different in every individual even in as small a unit as a family. Initially, these personal values may be adopted from family or cultural mores. They develop based on personal strengths and preferences and may be driven by self interest.


As a person grows and develops into an individual, social values and ethics come into play. This occurs as the person begins to leave the confines of an immediate family group and is influenced by the society in which a person is surrounded by. Although the values development is internal and personal, external societal forces contribute to the change as an individual begins to care more about what others think about them. Peer pressure and media influence are common examples. Elizabeth Suhay (2008) explains social values and ethics as:

We feel pride when we conform to in-group beliefs and behaviors; this prideful reaction strengthens those beliefs and behaviors that reflect the groups. On the other hand, we

feel embarrassment or shame when we deviate from group expectations; this shameful reaction weakens those beliefs and behaviors that are out of step with the group's. (p.1)

As an individual becomes part of a larger group, the group itself begins to develop a common set of values and ethics. This manifests itself as common group values and actions develop into higher forms of rules and governance. This can be seen in the power and influence of religious or political affiliation, team spirit, and nationalistic pride. Society affects the individual at the same time the individual affects society.


Modern organizations promote shared values and ethics of their members by creating mission statements, corporate slogans, written rules of conduct, policies, and procedures for encouraging productivity leading to economic gain. Organizational values serve many purposes. They set the tone in the environment by bonding people together, facilitating work behavior, and producing achievements of shared goals. These values also help to define and organization (Hassan, 2007). From an economic standpoint, the more engaging an individual is in the workplace, the higher one's output of a better-quality product.

Examples of Values and Ethics

Professional values and ethics influence career success in many ways. For instance, in a law firm, ethics play a vital role. Lawyers have the obligation to pursue vigorously in the best interest of their clients. Accordingly, diligence plays a role in a lawyer's career success. In addition to the obligations placed on them by the American Bar Association, lawyers are compelled to research all aspects of the law, meet court deadlines, and keep their clients apprised of the ongoing status of their cases. Lawyers are required to abide by a code of ethics and responsibility that helps them be successful in their profession (, 2004).

Another example of values and ethics influencing career success is in the military. Specifically, personnel in the United States Marine Corps live by a code, which is honor, courage and commitment (United States Marine Corps, 2009). These values are instilled into these warriors as they cross the threshold into Boot Camp. The values and ethics that are instilled will stay with them throughout their career and will essentially become the backbone in their success. Every individual in the military has the understanding of the expectations and the requirements of integrity and accountability, not only in their specific profession, but also in their everyday life. Integrity in the military is defined as doing what is expected in the absence of supervision. Thus, these individuals are equipped with the ability to be successful in their profession simply by the values and ethics they are instilled with.

Professional Values and Ethics Influence on Career Success

Professional values and ethics are valuable assets that can take a person a long way in developing success. Skills that aid in a career, whether learned on the job or not, can be what keeps a person separated from anyone else. The way a person conducts the workload or rapport built with clients, results in greater marketing for the company. This is a two sided win because a person not only represents the company, but also has now turned from an employee into an asset, a benefit factor for the employee and the business. Ethics alone, in business, has to come from a place of selflessness and integrity. Professional values do not determine who a person is, but will add to one's worthiness as a person. Ethics can be an asset in the success of a person's career because a person is choosing what is in the best interest of the company or business. A person with strong values and ethics will always have a path of accomplishment, because one can see the big picture. A person has achieved career success by allowing the mind to venture outside of its betterment and to the betterment of others that affect a team or group as a whole.


In conclusion, overall values and ethics come in a variety of ways throughout one's life. Through personal, social, and economical experiences, a person can learn values and ethics which transfer into the person's success in careers, ventures, and life. By understanding and learning the meaning behind values and ethics, a person can become a more active and complete individual in life. This essay has made a better understanding of the definition of values and ethics, the sources where they are derived from, and how professionally applied, can lead to a person's successful career.


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United States Marine Corps (2009). Core Values, The Values that Define a Marine. Retrieved September 16, 2009, from