Ethical Leaders Care Part 2: In Action

Author’s Note: As a follow up to the October 5, 2011 post “Ethical Leaders Care”, this post explores what leading with care looks like in action.

Encouraging and Supporting Others is a Leader’s Job

It is our job as leaders to bring out the best performance each person has to offer. When we do that with care we make sure that we demonstrate care and respect for others and encourage each individual and group we lead to be the best that they can be.

Leadership is fundamentally about relationships and ethical behavior.  It’s about accomplishing the mission of the organizations we serve in ways that enhance trust and relationships with people and honor ethical principles. Caring for others and supporting their success is an important part of that responsibility.

What Does Care Look Like?

Caring as leaders includes not only leading with care but also building cultures where people treat each other with respect. Encouraging ethical behaviors in those we lead while handling complex problems is a continual challenge.

To make this responsibility easier, we need a shared understanding of what caring leadership looks like in action. To respond to that need, Leading in Context published a color graphic showing interpersonal behavior in three zones.  This color-coded graphic excerpt (originally shared with readers on April 27, 2011) provides a visual context for how leaders show they care in their day-to-day interpersonal behavior choices.

I’m hoping that this graphic generates broader conversations about responsible and appropriate interpersonal behavior. Early feedback has been very positive, with readers saying that they see this as a starting rubric for talking about expected interpersonal behavior.

A leader using this graphic could explain it to a work team by saying “Behaviors in the green zone are what we want you to do, the yellow zone means “caution” and the red zone behaviors have no place in our workplace.”

Note: This graphic is an excerpt. The complete handout, designed to be used by experienced leaders, facilitators and leadership coaches, is downloadable at

Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO/Owner of Leading in Context. She can be reached at

Her color graphic titled “Ethical Interpersonal Behavior” is designed to be used by experienced trainers, consultants and coaches who are helping leaders understand their behavior choices in a broader context.

You are invited to access the full benefits that Leading in Context provides to customers and subscribers:

Ways That Leading in Context® Publications Meet Your Needs #3:

“I need to explain to leaders what respectful behavior looks like.”

About Linda Fisher Thornton
Author of 7 Lenses, Speaker, Bringing Out the Best in People and Organizations Through Proactive Ethical Leadership, CEO Leading in Context, 2014 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior, Adj. Assist. Prof. of Ethics and Leadership, UR SPCS

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