With Ethics PREVENTION is the Cure

20150118_150650By Linda Fisher Thornton

Have you heard the expression “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Eating healthy foods, exercising and getting enough sleep will help us prevent health problems. In the quest for good health, preventive habits make all the difference. It is generally easier for us to establish healthy habits than to correct persistent health problems once they start. 

There is an important parallel we can draw between human health and organizational health – prevention is also the best way to approach ethics in our organizations.

An organization with a PREVENTION mindset will take the time to clarify, discuss, engage, enable, support and measure ethical culture. Leaders will accept responsibility and be recognized and rewarded for positive ethics as well as other measures of success. If leaders achieve results using less than stellar ethics, they are mentored and coached to change, and if they can’t change, they are asked to leave. This pattern leads to “culture improvement,” and encourages others to uphold the highest ethics throughout the organization.

Organizations with a PREVENTION mindset are setting leaders up to succeed in an ethical sense and reducing the chances of having ethical problems.

An organization with a CURE mindset on the other hand will not take the time to clarify, discuss, engage, enable, support and measure ethical culture. It will assume that everything is “just fine” and deal with problems as they happen. If leaders use less than stellar ethics to achieve results, they may still get lucrative rewards. This pattern leads to “culture slide,” a disastrous shift in the ethical culture that encourages employees throughout the organization to violate ethical principles in order to earn lucrative promotions, pay increases, bonuses and other rewards.

Organizations with a CURE mindset are addressing problems after they have already eroded ethics and become difficult to eradicate.

While it is tempting to put off important prevention work because it takes time, how much time would we spend cleaning up an ethical mess that leads to penalties and fines and hits the news headlines? That brings to mind another old saying – “We reap what we sow.” If we want to be an ethical organization, only prevention (a positive commitment to ethical values) is a reliable cure.

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses. 

Includes case examples and questions.

 

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©2015 Leading in Context LLC

Leadership Development S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-S To Prepare for the Future

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

In a recent post, I acknowledged that “leaders face information overload, globalization and increasing complexity. And they hold the key to your organization’s future. Make it a priority to help them be ready.”

How can we prepare leaders to succeed in a socially and globally connected world? What are the strategies that will help them handle a wide variety of unpredictable situations while making ethical choices?

There are specific strategies that will help your leadership team prepare for the future. Organizations employing these strategies will help leaders S-T-R-E-T-C-H to stay on top of changing expectations.

BE CLEAR – KEEP IT RELEVANT –  GROUND LEARNING IN ETHICAL VALUES

To prepare leaders to make confident values-based choices, leadership development needs to be clear and based on positive ethical values. To make it worth the time spent participating, every aspect must be relevant to meeting their current challenges.

EMBRACE COMPLEXITY – HONOR LEARNING TRENDS – USE A GROWTH MINDSET

Leaders need support as they learn to embrace complexity (and seek meaning in an age of information overload).We will need to use a growth mindset, letting leaders know that we understand that learning to lead responsibly is a lifelong journey. We will need to honor learning trends and acknowledge that in many cases, leaders can be the architects of their own learning.

BUILD TRUST – WELCOME OPEN DIALOGUE 

Welcoming open dialogue about any aspect of leadership will help leaders feel comfortable asking questions. If we are going to make responsible leadership a way of life in our organization, we will also need to help them steep their leadership in mutual trust – which includes trusting others and being a trustworthy leader.

THINK AHEAD – PREPARE THEM FOR “LEADERSHIP FUTURE”

If we prepare leaders to handle today’s problems, that doesn’t mean they will be ready to handle the problems of tomorrow. The solution? Aim well ahead of the curve of change, to where the field of leadership is headed.

Leaders need a strong infrastructure grounded in ethical values and lots of opportunities for learning and conversation. With the pace of change accelerating, how does leadership development need to change? We must prepare leaders for where they’re going to be (not just where they are now) and help them stay competent in a rapidly changing world.

Learn More:

Changing Ethical Leadership Expectations

16 Trends Shaping the Future of Ethical Leadership.

11 Paths to Ethical Leadership Competence

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses. 

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©2015 Leading in Context LLC

Helping Young People Become Ethical Leaders

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

How do we help young people become ethical leaders? This is an important question because our long-term future depends on how well we prepare young people to make positive ethical choices and honor multiple dimensions of ethical responsibility.

“We can surely no longer pretend that our children are growing up into a peaceful, secure, and civilized world. We’ve come to the point where it’s irresponsible to try to protect them from the irrational world they will have to live in when they grow up. …They are considerably braver than most grownups. Our responsibility to them is not to pretend that if we don’t look, evil will go away, but to give them weapons against it.” 

—–Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet

We have an obligation and an opportunity to help children and teens learn how to become responsible people and good leaders. Besides modeling what it looks like by living out positive values, what else can we do? One of the most important things we can do is to help them get to know themselves as ethical people. They are still learning and defining themselves. We can let them know that they are good people, and we must not waver from that message even when they make mistakes. 

We need to remember that young people are adults in training.

We can help our young people build a scaffolding for thinking through ethical challenges. We can help them learn that ethics is about positive actions, not the ethical mistakes often covered in the news. Helping them interpret what’s going on in the world according to positive ethical values helps them make ethical choices.

Another important role parents and teachers play is encouraging young people to reach for their potential and to become their best selves. This support requires a growth mindset, not expecting perfection, but encouraging their long-term growth. 

“Treat a child as if he already is the person he is capable of becoming.”   

—-Haim Ginott

This support for “who they will become” can help provide meaning in their lives while they navigate an education system that can seem burdensome and a society that is a work in progress. We should encourage young people to serve others and to make a positive and lasting contribution in their communities. 

Young people need help learning how to succeed in living positive ethical values in a world filled with distractions and negative messages. Our job is to help them center themselves in positive ethical values and get to know themselves as good people. We can be a filter, an interpreter and a beacon for them as they find their way.

Note: This post was inspired by last night’s 7 Lenses book talk Raising Children to Be Ethical Leaders: Ethics, Honor and Today’s Students at the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School. There are resources for parents, teachers and teens available at LeadinginContext.com/Resources under the topic “Parenting.”

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7 Lenses is a leadership book that is also appropriate for middle and high school students. It provides 7 Lenses and 14 Guiding Principles for leading responsibly in a complex world (Foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey).

2014 Axiom Book Award Winner in Business Ethics

 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

Three Questions – Are Our Leaders Ready For The Future?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Our future success is in the hands of our leaders. They will be the ones to notice and remove roadblocks, mentor employees and foresee future opportunities. They will be the ones to tackle the seemingly unsolvable problems of the future. Are they ready?

“Your organization’s future success depends on identifying and developing the next generation of its leaders.”  

Harrison Monarth, “Evaluate Your Leadership Development Program,”  HBR.org, January 22, 2015

Do they know how to think through complexity? Can they deal with it effectively while also making ethical decisions?

Organizations may prepare leaders to handle the challenges they face now, but that approach leaves them behind the curve of change.

These three questions will help you consider how ready your leaders are for the future:

Three Questions– Are Our Leaders Ready For The Future?

1. Are leaders capable of handling the complexity of work life and meeting ethical expectations?

            If so, how can we build on what they know in mentoring leaders across the organization?

            If not, is our approach to leadership development too oversimplified to be helpful?

2. Are leaders crystal clear about what ethical leadership requires of them in a global society?

            If so, how are we sharing that knowledge at every level?

            If not, is our ethical leadership information too vague to be actionable?

3. Are leaders bringing out the best in those they lead by leading with positive values and building trust?

             If so, how can customers, partners, suppliers & other stakeholders benefit from what we’ve learned?

             If not, how can we intentionally build a high-trust culture where people can do their best work?

Your leaders face information overload, globalization and increasing complexity. And they hold the key to your organization’s future. Make it a priority to help them be ready.

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Prepare Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future.

 7 Lenses is a positive solution – providing 7 Lenses and 14 Guiding Principles for leading responsibly in a complex world (Foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey)

Includes case examples and questions for leadership improvement.

 

LeadinginContext.com   Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

300th Blog Post: Answering Big Questions About Ethical Leadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I have spent the last six years answering the big leadership question “What does it mean to do the right thing?” The support, the unsolicited testimonials and the social shares of this work have been widespread and global. Could it be that the world is ready for a clear answer to this important question? 

I wrote 7 Lenses because I believed that we needed a clear answer to what it means to “do the right thing” in a global society. I believed that the answer was there, somewhere, and could be found by researching across disciplines, religions and geographic boundaries. It was a question well worth exploring. With a clear understanding of leadership responsibility and a framework for talking about it in all of its complexity, we could do business in ways that would also improved lives and communities. We could make a powerful positive difference through our leadership. 

Over three years of research and writing, I learned that “doing the right thing” means honoring 7 dimensions of ethical responsibility in leadership, not just one at a time, but all at the same time

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC

 

Using these 7 Lenses (and the 14 Guiding Principles in the book for honoring them in daily leadership) gives us a holistic picture for leading ethically and teaching others. It gives us a high bar to reach for – the aspirational level of ethical leadership in organizations. It prepares us for the future as ethical expectations continue to increase.

Thank you for your feedback on 7 Lenses and for sharing the importance of proactive ethical leadership with your social communities. 7 Lenses is now being used by public and private universities to teach ethics and ethical leadership on three continents (if you are using it to teach, feel free to let me know!). Its message is reaching leaders across industries and around the world.

I enjoy blogging about the big ethical leadership questions, and welcome your input about what you want to read about that would further your leadership development. Below are some of the big questions I have been blogging about (and answers for today’s leaders). It is my hope that this blog will help you “do the right thing” on your journey to ethical leadership future.

What is Ethical Leadership?

How Are Ethical Leadership Expectations Changing?

What Does it Mean to Take Responsibility in Leadership?

Why Do People Often Disagree About The Right Thing To Do?

What is the Ultimate Goal of Leadership?

What is an Ethical Workplace?

What is Integrity?

What is Conscious Capitalism?

What is the Greater Good?

What is Authentic Leadership?

This blog has come a long way since the 150th Blog Post: Learning Out LoudThank you for making the Leading in Context Blog #37 on the Top 100 Most Socially-Shared Leadership Blogs of 2014!

Number Graphic 042115

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40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture (An Ethical To Do List)

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Last week I blogged about 40 Ethical Culture Gaps to Avoid. This week, I’m sharing a ‘What To Do” list of 40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture. This list includes many ways to incorporate ethical values into daily organizational leadership. 

Each one of these 40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture can improve an organization. Leaders paying attention to all of these factors will reap rewards that include improved employee engagement, better financial performance, increased productivity and job satisfaction, improved competitive position and more.

Use this “ethical to do list” to assess your culture. Put a check mark beside the positive ethical actions that you have observed in your organization. Any that you leave unchecked are opportunities for improvement.

40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture

  1. ___Avoid Harm To a Wide Variety of Constituents
  2. ___Balance Ethics With Profitability and Results
  3. ___Carefully Build and Protect Trust
  4. ___Choose the Ethical Path, Even if Competitors Aren’t
  5. ___Clarify What “Ethical” Means in the Organization
  6. ___Clear Code of Ethics
  7. ___Clear Messages About Ethics and Values
  8. ___Commitment to Protecting the Planet
  9. ___Consistently Demonstrate Care and Respect for People
  10. ___Decision-Making Carefully Incorporates Ethics
  11. ___Develop Leaders in How To Implement Proactive Ethical Leadership
  12. ___Do Business Sustainably
  13. ___Enforce Ethical Expectations
  14. ___Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility
  15. ___Engaging and Relevant Ethics Training and Messages (Not The Same Old Boring Stuff)
  16. ___Ethical Actions Match Ethical Marketing
  17. ___Frequent Conversations About Ethics (That Honor Work Complexity)
  18. ___Full Accountability for Ethics At Every Level Including the C-Suite
  19. ___High Degree of Transparency
  20. ___Leaders Aware of Increasing Ethical Expectations
  21. ___Leaders Stay Competent as Times Change
  22. ___Open Leadership Communication and Invitation to Participate in Decisions
  23. ___Open, Supportive Leadership
  24. ___Performance Guidelines and Boundaries For Behavior
  25. ___Performance System Fully Integrated With Ethical Expectations
  26. ___Positive Ethical Role Models
  27. ___Recognize and Praise Ethical Actions
  28. ___Recognize and Punish Unethical Actions
  29. ___Safe Space to Discuss Ethical Grey Areas
  30. ___Set Ethical Boundaries
  31. ___Strong Commitment to Improving Leadership and Culture
  32. ___Take Broad Responsibility For Actions
  33. ___Think Long Term About Our Impact
  34. ___Treat Ethics as an Ongoing Priority
  35. ___Treat People With Care
  36. ___Use the Precautionary Principle
  37. ___Use Systems Thinking to See the Big Picture
  38. ___Values Mindset (Not A Compliance Mindset)
  39. ___Welcome and Act on Feedback From Constituents
  40. ___Willing to Do What it Takes to Become an Ethical Organization

When ethical culture is carefully tended, we are poised to meet the increasing expectations of our many stakeholders. Use this checklist of 40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture to identify your organization’s current strengths and opportunities for improvement.

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©2015 Leading in Context LLC

 

40 Ethical Culture Gaps To Avoid

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leaders set the tone for how ethical values are applied. They mentor those they lead, and serve as positive role models. It is not enough, though. for them to talk about ethical values, model what they look like in action and mentor others. They must also fiercely protect the ethical dynamics within their organizations. They are also the caretakers of ethical culture.

Leaders are the tireless caretakers of ethical culture.

There are many types of ethical culture problems. Each one can cause trouble on its own. When several are at play, watch out – the organization is at risk of ethical failure. 

Use this list of 40 Gaps to Avoid to assess your culture. These are warning signs that your ethical culture is at risk. Put a check mark beside any that you have observed in your organization. 

40 Ethical Culture Gaps To Avoid

  1. ___Boring Ethics Training
  2. ___Compliance Mindset Instead of Values Mindset
  3. ___Controlling or Fear-Based Leadership
  4. ___Crowd Following, Regardless of the Ethical Implications
  5. ___Entitlement Mentality
  6. ___Failure to Build and Protect Trust
  7. ___Failure to Enforce Ethics Expectations
  8. ___Failure to Recognize and Praise Ethical Actions
  9. ___Failure to Recognize and Punish Unethical Actions
  10. ___Failure of Top Leaders to Take Responsibility For Actions
  11. ___Firing Scapegoats Instead of Fixing the Culture and Leadership
  12. ___Ignoring Boundaries
  13. ___Ignoring Complexity of Work and Complexity of Ethical Issues 
  14. ___Ignoring Customer and/or Employee Feedback
  15. ___Intentionally Causing Harm
  16. ___Lack of Accountability
  17. ___Lack of Care and Respect for People
  18. ___Lack of Clarity About What Ethics Means in the Organization
  19. ___Lack of Commitment to Protect the Planet
  20. ___Lack of a Moral Compass
  21. ___Lack of Performance System Integration
  22. ___Lack of Positive Role Models
  23. ___Lack of Relevant Ethics Training
  24. ___Lack of Transparency
  25. ___Leaders Not Aware of Increasing Ethical Expectations
  26. ___Leaders Not Staying Competent as Times Change
  27. ___Linear Problem-Solving
  28. ___Marketing an Organization as Ethical When It’s Not
  29. ___No Code of Ethics
  30. ___No Performance Guidelines or Boundaries For Behavior
  31. ___No Safe Space to Discuss Ethical Grey Areas
  32. ___Oversimplified Conversations About Ethics
  33. ___Oversimplified Decision-Making That Leaves Out Ethics
  34. ___Oversimplified Definition of “Ethical” (“Do the Right Thing”)
  35. ___Power Plays by Top Leaders Instead of Open Communication and Involvement
  36. ___Singular Focus on Profitability and Results
  37. ___Treating Ethics as an Event, Class, or Task Rather Than an Ongoing Priority
  38. ___Unintentionally Harming Constituents
  39. ___Vague Messages About Ethics and Values
  40. ___Widespread Acceptance That Unethical Behavior and Decisions Are “The Way Things Are Around Here”

Leaders need to be the “cultural caretakers,” always on the lookout for ways to improve the ethical dynamics in their organizations. Preventing these 40 Ethical Culture Gaps is a great start. 

 

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12 Trends Shaping the (Responsible, Human) Future of Learning

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Much of our success in a rapidly changing world will come from our ability to learn our way through difficult situations that have no clear solutions. Since we can’t use a scripted response for unexpected situations, we need to help people learn how to handle complexity and information overload and still make ethical choices. 

This graphic pulls together 12 important trends in learning that will be important to our success in the future. I believe that the transition from a focus on content to a focus on learner success in the real world is already underway.  It transcends settings, being equally important in classrooms and corporate training rooms. 

Trends Fut of Learning REV

Together these trends give us a picture of learning that is deeply human, grounded in respect for the learner and in helping people reach their full potential. We have the opportunity to change lives and organizations by igniting a love for learning. The right column in this graphic describes the environment and approach that will accomplish that. 

Take a moment to consider how you will help forward the (responsible, human) future of learning in your organization.

 

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What is Authentic Leadership?

How Do We Define Authenticity in Leadership?

Most people would agree that authentic leadership is a good thing. But what does it mean? What qualities do authentic leaders possess that set them apart from other leaders? Wikipedia provides many different interpretations of authenticity including this passage:

“Authenticity is something to be pursued as a goal intrinsic to “the good life.” And yet it is often described as an intrinsically difficult state to achieve, due in part to social pressures to live inauthentically, and in part due to a person’s own character. It is also described as a revelatory state, where one perceives oneself, other people, and sometimes even things, in a radically new way. Some writers argue that authenticity also requires self-knowledge, and that it alters a person’s relationships with other people. Authenticity also carries with it its own set of moral obligations.”                                                                                                                                                                 Wikipedia, Authenticity

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes authenticity as both personal and social: “The prevailing view seems to have been that, by turning inward and accessing the “true” self, one is simultaneously led towards a deeper engagement with the social world. This is why Taylor (1989: 419–455) describes the trajectory of the project of authenticity is ‘inward and upward’.”

What Are Its Inner and Outer Dimensions?

I believe that the following 14 personal, interpersonal and societal dimensions together form what we think of as authenticity. They involve overcoming the internal and external barriers to living an intentional, aware and ethical life. See if you agree.

Personal

Introspective

Self-Aware

Takes Responsibility

Has High Ethical Standards

Fully Present/Aware of Reality

Honest

Genuine

True to One’s Self

Aligned in Thought, Word and Deed (Has Integrity)

Committed to Growth and Learning

Interpersonal

Fully Respectful and Inclusive

Cares About Others

Service-Focused

Societal

Has An Identified Life Purpose or Calling

Reaches Individual Potential in Ways That Benefit Society

 

Growth Required

Discovering our authentic selves often involves venturing into areas where we are not a bit comfortable, but where we believe we can find meaning in our work and lives. As Herminia Ibarra wrote in her article Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership (HBR, January 2015) “The only way we grow as leaders is by stretching the limits of who we are—doing new things that make us uncomfortable but that teach us through direct experience who we want to become.”

 

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©2015 Leading in Context LLC

There Are No Quick Fixes For Ethics

 

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

I have been thinking about how lightly some leaders take the subject of ethics. Some ignore ethical issues altogether or think ethical issues are unimportant compared to concerns about profitability. It’s a risky choice to take ethics lightly. Why? Unlike heart or kidney transplants, there are no “ethics transplants” for people who have made bad ethical decisions.

We are responsible for our choices. If an ethics transplant did exist and we could easily start over, imagine how long the waiting list would be for that procedure! Since there is no quick fix for failed ethics, we need to protect our ethical reputations carefully, and choose to stay on an ethical path.

In our global society, where almost anything can be obtained for a price, you can’t buy ethics.

While people can recover somewhat from ethical failures, it takes them a long time to earn back people’s trust, if they ever do. In the meantime, they have to pay the price for failing to make ethical choices.

Our choices are very much ours to live with, good or bad, for the rest of our lives. 

The journey to an ethical life and ethical leadership is rewarding but it takes personal effort. Plato believed that we should make ethics more important than silver or gold. Silver and gold, after all, are commodities that can be bought, sold or traded at will. Ethics (on the other hand) requires personal effort and growth over time.

Ethics cannot be bought, sold, traded or transferred. It can only be learned, taught and encouraged. You can’t buy it. No one can give it to you, and you can’t replace yours when things go wrong. That makes ethics priceless.

 

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©2015 Leading in Context LLC

5 Ways To Bolster Your Organization’s Ethical Immune System

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

I was thinking about organizational culture recently, and noticed an interesting parallel. Actions such as eating healthy foods, exercising and getting enough sleep all boost our individual immune systems. What actions can we take to boost our ethical immune systems? And how could doing that help us create more ethical organizations?

Building a healthy ethical culture where people take steps to protect ethics and reputation takes intentional effort. It requires regular attention, similar to the way we must eat healthy foods and exercise daily to maintain our individual health.

An ethical organizational culture doesn’t just “happen” without leadership support. To support the overall ethical health of your organization, I recommend taking these 5 important leadership actions (and avoiding the corresponding DON’TS that undo the positive effects of ethical immunity).

1. DO Intentionally Ground Every Aspect Of Your Culture in Positive Ethical Values

(DON’T Leave ethics vague and just expect people to “do the right thing”)

2. DO Clarify Exactly What Ethical Leadership Looks Like in Action 

(DON’T give people ethical guidelines and leave them to figure out how to apply them to their ethical challenges)

3. DO Provide Resources For Ethical Thinking and Decision Making

(DON’T assume that people can make sense out of highly complex situations and choose the most ethical choices)

4. DO Create a Safe Environment For Talking About Ethical Challenges and Questions

(DON’T let the conversations happen only in ethics training – that’s not where people struggle with getting ethics right)

5. DO Model Ethical Leadership From The Top Down*

(DON’T Exempt the CEO and Senior Leadership from accountability for ethical leadership)

 *Failure to model ethical leadership at the highest levels of leadership is a common problem, and it destroys ethical immunity. 

For more guidance on ethical culture building, see these related articles:

7 Questions For Ethical Culture Building

Critical Roles of the (Ethical) CEO

How to Build an Ethical Culture

 

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Linda Fisher Thornton’s book 7 Lenses is your guide to proactive ethical leadership (in 7 dimensions that are all important).

 

 

 
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©2015 Leading in Context LLC

Leaders: Is Respect Enough?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Respectful behavior makes it possible for people to work together successfully. But when we ask the teams we lead to be respectful, I wonder if we’re aiming too low. Shouldn’t we be asking for more? 

Are we just settling for “avoiding conflict and tension?” Are we missing an opportunity to teach those we lead that respect is the minimum standard for workplace behavior, and that there is so much more?

Respect is incredibly important. In the quest to create workplaces where people can find meaning and do their best work, I believe that we need to aim much higher. We need to teach people what it means to genuinely care about others and support their success. We need to show them how to be in service in the world. That’s real ethical leadership. Are you aiming high enough?

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© 2015 Leading in Context LLC

11 Paths To Ethical Leadership Competence

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Developing competent ethical leaders can be a huge challenge. Why is it so difficult? We live in a globally connected society, and are expected to be globally aware. We are dealing with catastrophic change and uncertainty. We fill many different roles in our organizations, industries and communities. Each role we play and each decision we face has different ethical implications. Ethical competence is definitely not something that “just happens.” 

Mastering ethical leadership takes intentional preparation and learning. I believe that there are at least 11 Paths To Ethical Leadership Competence. Seeing them together in this graphic illustrates why it can be so difficult to prepare leaders to handle ethical challenges. As you review these 11 Paths, keep in mind that we don’t fully prepare leaders for ethical leadership until we address all of them.

11 Types of Ethical Competence

Now I must ask you this important question: “How well are you addressing all 11 Paths to Ethical Leadership Competence in your leadership development?”

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CMOE ranked the Leading in Context Blog #37 on the Top 100 Most Socially Shared Leadership Blogs of 2014. Special thanks to CMOE and everyone who helped share this blog’s message!

 

 

Trust is a Relationship (Not a Commodity)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Waiting For Trust to Be Earned

I sometimes hear leaders say that they think “trust is earned” and that we should not trust others until they have earned our trust through their behavior and choices. I see several big problems with this way of thinking about trust.

1. This way of thinking about trust is narrowly focused on the leader, implying that trust is “someone else’s responsibility.”

2. This perspective imagines trust as a commodity, something that can be exchanged transactionally at will. 

3. The leader is not expecting trustworthy behavior, and withholds trust accordingly. This negative expectation may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

There is a better way of thinking about trust that leads to more positive leadership outcomes.

Thinking About Trust As a Relationship

Trust is reciprocal, requiring relationship. It is something that must be built over time for mutual benefit, not just the leader’s benefit.

In a trust relationship, all parties are responsible for being trustworthy (personally) and trusting others (interpersonally). If we remove the interpersonal aspects of trust, what we are really saying is “I have all the power here. I’ll decide when you’ve been trustworthy.” That detached perspective is controlling and judgmental, and controlling and judgmental leadership is not effective leadership.

Why is controlling and judgmental leadership not effective? Because leadership (like trust) is all about building positive relationships.

 

 
7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics 41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
  2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner “7 Lenses” 
  Your Roadmap For The Journey to Ethical Leadership (Foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey)  
 
 
Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™                                                                                                

LeadinginContext.com

 

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

Why Do People Lead?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Have you ever thought about why people lead? If you could look into the window of their motivations, what would you discover? I have noticed that people want to be in positions of leadership for very different reasons. Some of those reasons benefit them, and some benefit others.

Below is a starter list of motives that answer the question, “Why do people lead?” As you read the list, consider this question: Which motives reflect the highest levels of human development? 

Unethical Motives

“I Want Access to Money and Power for Personal Gain”

“I Want Employees To Do The Work While I Pursue Other Interests”

“I Want to Sabotage Others to Make Myself Look Good”

“I Want to Treat People Like Pawns in a Game, Keeping Them Guessing”

“I Want to Control Information To Cover Up Ethical Problems”

Self-Focused Motives

“I Want Power”

“I Want Control”

“I Want Visibility”

“I Want Decision-Making Authority”

“I Want Recognition”

“I Want a High Level Position So I Can Make a Lot of Money”

Other-Focused Motives

“I Want to Set a Good Example For Others To Follow”

“I Want to Build a Cohesive Team”

“I Want to Help Others Succeed”

Growth and Learning Motives

“I Want Responsibility”

“I Want to Bring Out the Best in Myself – To Stretch Myself and Learn How to Lead”

“I Want to Help Others Stretch Themselves and Learn”

“I Want to Find Out How Much We Can Accomplish When We Work Together”

Service Motives

“I Want to Serve Others”

“I Want to Help Others Serve Their Constituents”

“I Want to Leave Things Better Than I Found Them”

“I Want to Be in Service in the Community”

Societal Motives

“I Want to Help People Fulfill Their Responsibilities in Our Communities and Our World”

“I Want To Make the World Better Through My Leadership”

“I Want to Make Life Better For Future Generations Through My Leadership”

The journey to ethical leadership is a journey of human development. As we learn and grow, we begin to think beyond ourselves in ways that transform us and those we lead. We move from concern for self-interest to concern for self and others.

Which category of motives do you think reflects the highest level of human development? What reasons for leading would you add to this list? 

  
 
 
7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics 41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
  2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner “7 Lenses” 
  Your Roadmap For The Journey to Ethical Leadership (Foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey)  
 
 
Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™                                                                                                

LeadinginContext.com

 

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

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