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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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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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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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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Have you read Linda Fisher Thornton’s award-winning book 7 Lenses?

 

 

 

 

© 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?”

Top 100 Leadership Blog

 

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.

 

 
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  Your Roadmap For The Journey to Ethical Leadership (Foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey)  
 
 
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©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™                                                                                                

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©2015 Leading in Context LLC

7 Questions For Ethical Culture Building

By Linda Fisher Thornton

We create organizational culture through strategic choices and daily actions. If we imagine building our culture as creating an elaborate painting, what will we depict on the canvas? Will we work together to carefully paint a background theme of positive values, or will we just give everyone brushes and “see where it goes?”

122314PerfSysGrphcThe graphic shows ethical leadership as a human performance system. At the center of the system are Positive Ethical Values and Trust. The arrows show a perpetual process of communicating and reinforcing values and ethical choices.

Having seen this model, ask yourself these questions to assess how well ethical values are “painted” onto your cultural canvas:

Questions

1. If a group of strangers walked into our organization for the first time and spent the day with us, what would they say is on our cultural canvas? What values would they see in action?

2. What positive ethical values do we make the focal point of our culture?

3. How will we “paint” those values in a lasting way onto the canvas of our culture?

4. How will we build the deep level of trust that is necessary for open conversation?

5. How will we align all of our messages and reward systems to aim directly toward the ethical values we say are important?

6. How will we prepare leaders to paint ethical values onto our cultural canvas through their daily leadership?

7. How will we know when everyone in the organization is committed to our values? What will we see happening?

When we communicate clear values and make trust a priority, we are creating positive conditions for:

  • making a lasting difference
  • bringing out the best in the organization
  • protecting our ethics

When our cultural canvas is clearly painted with ethical values and trust, the result may be a true masterpiece – an ethical organization.

 

 
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  2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
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©2015 Leading in Context LLC

It’s All About The Trust

Trust is pivotal because it is the basis of every human relationship, every transaction, and every market.”

Dennis Nally, The Trust Agenda, Strategy & Business, PwC Strategy& Inc. Summer 2014

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Monday I received the wonderful news that I was in the Trust Across America-Trust Around the World 2015 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trust. I consider this a great honor because trust is critical to successful business. Trust improves communication, culture, performance, engagement and results.

Today I’m sharing some inspiring quotes from recent trust reports about why “it’s all about the trust” – why trust has such broad importance and impact in work relationships and organizations:

“Gaining trust from society at large also requires understanding what value means to a wider range of stakeholders than many companies are used to—including not just shareholders, but customers, employees, local community members, government officials, and others.”

Dennis Nally, The Trust Agenda, Strategy & Business, PwC Strategy& Inc. Summer 2014

 “Well-being promotes the greater business good and what’s good for the individual is good for the organization and its customers. Because of this, an organization needs to think about the work experience from their employees’ point of view and consider whether policies, structures and workplace culture are adding to their well-being or detracting from it.”

Justin Heifitz, Gallup Business Journal, December 15, 2014

 

“80 percent of respondents said that they chose to buy a particular product or servicebecause they trusted the company behind it. Sixty-three percent said they refused to purchase a product or service because they distrusted a particular company.”

Edelman Trust Barometer 2015, Executive Summary

 

“By focusing on building trust, companies can develop a compelling identity, one that sets them apart from competitors—assuming that they have the intent to deliver and the capabilities to do so.”

Dennis Nally, The Trust Agenda, Strategy & Business, PwC Strategy& Inc. Summer 2014

 

“For their part, senior leaders need to invest in systems, rewards, and habits that make it easy for managers faced with complexity and constant change to make solid commitments, connect the dots with other groups, and remember their promises. This is how thriving businesses create an upward spiral of trust and strong results.”

Elizabeth Doty, Does Your Company Keep Its Promises? strategy+business, July 18, 2014

In every dimensions of success, from employee engagement to stakeholder confidence to customer retention, building successful organizations really is all about the trust.

FisherThorntonLinda_07_What_Is_Ethical_Leadership-522

41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

7 Lenses (Foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey) is a practical roadmap for learning the kind of proactive ethical leadership that builds lasting trust.

 
7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics  2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
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Imagining The Future Of Leadership

 

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Learning At 2,400 Tweets Per Hour

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to co-host the live #LeadWithGiants Tweetchat with @DanVForbes on January 19, 2015. The topic was “The Future of Leadership,” and the live chat trended on Twitter at about 2,400 Tweets per hour.

Many thanks to the #LeadWithGiants community members who participated in the discussion. Please note that I considered quoting individual Tweets, but there were so many good ones that I couldn’t narrow down which ones to feature! A link to the Tweetchat recap is provided below. Feel free to comment with more of your favorite insights from the conversation. 

During the Tweetchat, inspiring global voices weighed in on big questions, including these:

  • What will the future of leadership be like?
  • What is the best case scenario for the future of leadership?
  • How will we individually and collectively reach that best case scenario?

Envisioning Leadership Future

Here are some of the predictive insights shared during the discussion:

1. The future of leadership is globally collaborative and inclusive – communication, relationships and trust will be crucial.

2. Inspiring others through our leadership will not be about our words, it will be about our actions.

3. We will need to continually learn, stretch beyond our comfort zones, tackle complexity and adapt to rapid global change.

4. We will need to carefully balance our use of technology with maintaining human connections.

5. We must dig deeper and aim higher, taking daily steps to become the leader needed in a globally connected society.

6. We can take actions every day, no matter how small, to add value to the lives and work of others.

7. We must stand up for what is right, even when that perspective is unpopular.

8. Old rules will not apply and old mindsets will have to go.

9. We will need to deeply engage others in working toward shared goals, and develop them to be ready for future roles.

10. It will help to align ourselves with others who share this journey and provide positive support.

11. Without self-awareness, we will not succeed…

A Best Case Scenario

I believe that this is a possible best case scenario for the future of leadership:

When we say “leadership,” that term will include ethical responsibilities along with opportunities and benefits. “Leading” will be a positive term that will imply leading in the way that we want others to go, leading ethically, and leading in the way that creates a better future. With a clear picture of what responsible leadership looks like, unethical leadership will not be tolerated and will be less common. 

People who aspire to lead others will be drawn to the role by the opportunity to bring out the best in others (individually and collectively). 

Let’s actively create this best case scenario for the future of leadership through the choices we make today.

About the Tweetchat

A recap of “The Future of Leadership” #LeadWithGiants chat is here. Dan V. Forbes hosts #LeadWithGiants Mondays, 7 pm ET. 

My Journey: On April 1, 2010, I said the words ” I will never go on Twitter.” Later that same day, I started Tweeting. Read the story in my post “Leaders and Social Media: 5 Reasons to Engage.”

 

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™                  

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  7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
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  About 7 Lenses
 
 
© 2015 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

Prepare Now For The Future of Leadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leading with positive values and demonstrating care are becoming expected ways of doing business. Leading now is not as much about leaders as it is about bringing out the best in those they lead and serve.

Part 3 of my book 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership tells the story of how our understanding of the purpose of leadership is evolving.

Excerpt from 7 Lenses (Chapter 8 – Getting Ready For the Future of Ethical Leadership):

Our understanding of ethical leadership is continually evolving due to changes in the world and to the efforts of champions of responsible business. This evolving understanding incorporates the natural complexity of the challenges of leadership and the broadening scope of the constituents that leaders serve. As we move from thinking about leadership as “transactional” to thinking about leadership for the “greater good,” we increase our understanding of our moral responsibilities to others, our companies, our societies and our world…

Leadership was once considered transactional, without much of a human element in it at all. This one-way mindset was essentially based on “Tell people want you need them to do.” Fortunately, the general thinking about leadership shifted to include a service role, which brought the all-important human element into it. Later, we began to understand leadership as having a positive and transformative effect on individuals, groups and organizations. In this evolution, leadership had moved from being about self to considering self and others.

After incorporating others in our understanding of leadership, we began to add a consideration of society. Through the Corporate Social Responsibility movement, leadership responsibilities are seen to include sustainability and community well-being. We are currently experiencing a powerful leadership movement to support the greater good of society…

These changes in our understanding of the purpose of leadership have happened slowly over time. Understanding them helps us stay ahead of the curve, to be better prepared to lead in ways that meet future expectations.

Thornton, L. F. (2013). 7 Lenses: Learning the principles and practices of ethical leadership. Richmond, Va.: Leading in Context.  (© 2013 Leading in Context, All Rights Reserved)

If we focus on meeting current leadership expectations, we may be caught off guard. Don’t wait. Prepare now for the global-minded, values-driven future of leadership.

Special Event:

On Monday January 19th, 2015, I am the Guest Co-Host for the #LeadWithGiants Tweetchat with @DanVForbes. Our topic is The Future of Leadership

Join us at 7:00 pm Eastern Time on January 19th!

               

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@leadingincontxt  @7Lenses
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  2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
  About 7 Lenses
 
 
Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™   
© 2015 Leading in Context LLC

 

Leader Development 2015: Human Growth Required

By Linda Fisher Thornton

When we want to prepare leaders for success in the trenches of business leadership, we don’t get very far by providing a cushy “spa-like experience.” We can easily focus too much on creating “events” for leader education and miss the much deeper preparation that leaders need.

What prepares leaders to handle their tough everyday challenges? Their success requires much more than knowledge building. It requires rewiring mindsets and developing new capacities. The best way to do that is through experiences that lead to real human growth. Leadership development should stretch leaders and help them develop the capacity to handle bigger challenges. These recent reports describe the need for leaders to stretch into new capabilities:

Josh Bersin, in his Forbes.com article “Spending on Corporate Training Soars: Employee Capabilities Now a Priority” says that “Global leadership gaps continue to be the most pressing issues on the minds of business and HR leaders.” 

Nick Petrie of the Center For Creative Leadership notes that “This is no longer just a leadership challenge (what good leadership looks like); it is a development challenge (the process of how to grow “bigger” minds). (Future Trends in Leadership Development, CCL.org)

The Wall Street Journal article “How to Develop Future Leaders” says that “Stretch assignments are growth-oriented exercises with some inherent risk. They’re designed to push participants past their skill level.”

“Leadership today is more than what you know. It requires the ability to adapt and respond to different circumstances and to connect with different kinds of employees, including employees of different ages and different cultural backgrounds” according to HBR Publishing “What the Future Demands: The Growing Challenge of Global Leadership Development” by Mercer and Oliver Wyman.

We are preparing leaders to handle a high degree of complexity and we need for them to consistently make ethical choices. At its best, leadership development is not an “event.” It’s a capacity-building endeavor. It’s a process of human growth and development.

Leaders must become capable of imagining more, doing and being more, and enabling others to accomplish more in challenging times. Only human growth will get them there.

Recent Leading in Context Honors:

CEO Linda Fisher Thornton in Global CEO’s TOP 100 CSR LEADERS and on Jeff Haden’s Inc. list of “100 Great Leadership Speakers For Your Next Conference” 

7 Lenses won an Axiom Business Book Award and Achieved a Top 100 Best Seller Rank in the “Ethics” category in the Kindle Store (June, 2014)

7 Lenses Used by Major U.S. Universities To Teach Leadership, Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

Over 80 Media Mentions in 2014 Including BBC-Capital and The Globe and Mail

And the greatest honor of all – Followers and Friends From 182 Countries (WordPress year-end report 12/31/14)

 

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™                  

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  7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
  2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
  About 7 Lenses
 
 
©2014 Leading in Context LLC

Top 10 Posts 2014: Changing Ethical Leadership Expectations

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

There were 52 Leading in Context blog posts published in 2014. The ones listed below are the 10 that were most popular with readers. They are focused on learning proactive ethical leadership and building a high-trust culture. If I had to describe a theme that connects these posts it might be “learning how to keep up with changes in ethical leadership expectations.” 

As you review these reader favorites, think about how you will adapt to changing ethical leadership expectations in 2015.

Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2014

#1   10 Forces Fueling the Values-Based Leadership Movement

#2    Understanding (And Preventing) Ethical Leadership Failures

#3    What is the Ultimate Goal of Leadership?

#4    5 Leadership Development Priorities

#5    5 Reasons Ethical Culture Doesn’t Just Happen

#6    10 Things Trustworthy Leaders Do

#7    Can a Toxic Leader Be Ethical? Yes and No

#8    13 (Culture-Numbing) Side Effects of Toxic Leadership

#9    12 Gifts of Leadership (Will You Give Them This Year?)

#10  These two posts were tied for 10th place:

Building Trust: What to Weed Out

Ethics is Contagious

If you have ethical leadership topics you would like to learn more about in the new year, feel free to comment here with a request. Fresh posts will be published weekly in 2015.

To prepare to lead well in 2015, answer the 9 Questions For Ethical Leaders in the New Year.

Have a Happy New Year!

NY Times BestSelling Author Kevin Kruse's List of Top Speakers and Trainers

FisherThorntonLinda_07_What_Is_Ethical_Leadership-522See Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?
  7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
  2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
  About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

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©2014 Leading in Context LLC

 

Leaders, Keep Your Sense of Wonder

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This holiday season I wish you wonder –  the joyful, expectant mindset that comes with not knowing how things will turn out, but thinking they’re going to be good.

I don’t mean the ordinary type of wonder, such as wondering what you’ll have for dinner. I’m talking about the magical kind of wonder. This type of wonder refreshes our hopefulness, and keeps us open-minded and expectant. It is positive and exciting.

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What happens when we lead with a sense of wonder? We are open to new experiences, and we tend to look for the best in others and in the world. A sense of wonder keeps us curious and helps us understand things in new ways.

Here are some interesting perspectives on wonder, from some folks you may have heard of:

“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”      

                ——Neil Armstrong

“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”  

               ——Albert Einstein

“Wisdom begins in wonder.”            

              ——Socrates

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

              ——-e. e. cummings

“Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science.”

 

             ——-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”

           ——-Robert Fulghum

“Without wonder and insight, acting is just a trade. With it, it becomes creation.”

           ——-Bette Davis

“Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.”

          ——–Thomas Aquinas

“From wonder into wonder existence opens.”

         ——–Lao Tzu

 

Leaders, this holiday season, enjoy the delight of not having all the answers. Remember to look for the magic and keep your sense of wonder.

Happy Holidays to All!

*Vote for your 10 favorite CSR thought leaders at Global CEO’s Top 100 CSR Leaders (Linda Fisher Thornton is #32).

 

522For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?
 
  7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
  2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
  About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™                                                                                               LeadinginContext.com

©2014 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Gifts of Leadership (Will You Give Them This Year?)

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

How do we lead when we want to bring out the best in people? These 12 Gifts of Leadership are on the wish lists of employees around the world. They aren’t expensive. They don’t require dealing with the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, and one size fits all. Sure, these gifts are harder to give than a fruitcake, but they will be life-changing for those you lead.

12 Gifts of Leadership

  1. Ethical Awareness – When we make it a priority to stay ethically aware, people can count on us to protect their interests and the interests of the company.
  2. Care – When we show every day that we care about people (not the FAUX care that we see so often, but the REAL kind), they feel valued and secure.
  3. Humility - When we lead without looming over people, instead working beside them and involving them, they can contribute their best work.
  4. Competence – When we stay competent, we set the bar high for others, and create a learning environment that brings out everyone’s best.
  5. Open Communication – When we welcome input from everyone, regardless of level, we send a message that we value the insights and talents of the entire workforce.
  6. Respect - Respect makes people feel safe, and when they feel safe, they are usually more productive and engaged. When we are respectful, that helps build a respectful workplace.
  7. Trust - Being trustworthy is a great gift to those we lead. Trusting them back is the ribbon that makes the gift complete.
  8. Clear Expectations - Letting people know what you expect gives them the security of knowing the boundaries that should guide their work.
  9. Support for Success – When people can count on you to support their success, they will be more and do more, and enjoy their work more.
  10. Inclusion – People come in all shapes, sizes, races, religions, etc. Each person needs to be able to maintain dignity and dreams for the future while working with you.
  11. Appreciation – Everyone wants to know that someone notices what they do. Make it a point to appreciate everyone, even if what you appreciate is a small improvement someone makes toward a goal that seems far away.
  12. Values - Basing your leadership on ethical values lets people know what they can expect from you, and focuses the efforts of the whole organization on a positive outcome.

Will you give these 12 Gifts of Leadership this year? Be aware that these “must-haves” for employees are expensive, but not in the way you might expect. They require soul-searching and personal growth. Doesn’t your organization deserve these generous gifts from you? The journey to ethical leadership transforms people and organizations, so don’t be afraid to dig deep to give these 12 Gifts of Leadership this year.

 

Vote for your 10 favorite CSR thought leaders at Global CEO’s Top 100 CSR Leaders (Linda Fisher Thornton is #32).

 

7 Lenses™ Workshops Engage Organizational Leaders in Learning:

  • What leading with “integrity” really means
  • Moral awareness and ethical competence
  • Leading in ways that bring out the best in others
  • Centering daily work in ethical values
  • Building lasting trust
  • Using clear ethical thinking and decision-making
  • How doing all of the above transforms organizational results

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We believe that ethics, integrity and trust are critical to our success. …But what are we doing to clarify them, to tether our work to them, to apply them?

 …Are we doing enough?

 

Schedule a 7 Lenses Workshop for 2015:  Info@LeadinginContext.com

 

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