Full Accountability For Ethics: The New Normal

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Recently, I blogged about trends in ethical leadership, sharing 10 forces that are fueling a movement toward higher expectations for values-based leadership. Today I want to explore how those trends help explain what we are seeing in ethics events in the news.  Recent headlines have described more severe sanctions than people have seen in the past, in response to ethical problems in sports, politics, business and beyond. Some people may have wondered, “Why are people now being convicted for doing the same things that others before them have done?”

HFull-accountability-forolding people accountable for ethical problems that were previously overlooked may appear on the surface to be inconsistent and unfair. But when you take a closer look at the trends, you will discover an important reason why people are more frequently being held fully accountable. It is because ethical expectations are increasing and expanding.

What does all of this mean? While everyone is still catching up with increased regulation and recent changes in ethics expectations: 

There will continue to be a predictable increase in the enforcement of ethics standards across industries. 

It is definitely time to move out of a “what worked before will work again” mindset and into a mindset of full accountability and increasing expectations.

Mindset of the Outdated Leader: “What Worked Before Will Work Again”

  • You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.  We’ll both be better off.
  • This is the way we’ve always done it and we’ve never been cited for it.
  • We go over the ethics codes once a year. That’s enough. 

Mindset of the Ethical Leader: “Full Accountability and Increasing Expectations” 

  • Everyone is fully accountable for ethics, and favors are not “ethics-free.”
  • Ethical violations that may have been overlooked in the past are being enforced vigorously now. 
  • Dealing with increasing expectations for ethics now requires intentional effort, ongoing learning and frequent conversation.

You will be hearing more about this trend toward full accountability for ethics. It’s not just a phase. It is becoming the new normal.

Follow the Leading in Context Blog for weekly posts that help you Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™ 

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For more, see the new guide book to ethical leadership future called 7 Lenses and the related 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Leading For Ethics Future? (Or Ethics Past?)

Ethical Leadership FutureBy Linda Fisher Thornton

We are expected to make ethical decisions in a rapidly changing global society, where there is increasing awareness of what “ethical” means. The question of where ethics is headed has been the focus of my research over the last four years.

I have learned that to be considered ethical, we must consider more constituents, honor more dimensions of ethics, and lead ethically through higher levels of complexity. How do we prepare for that? We reach higher and think longer-term.

Aim Higher and Farther Ahead

Strategies that may have worked in ethics five years ago will not help us now. To succeed, we need to broaden our worldview and expand the scope of what we consider to be “ethical territory.”  

We need to aim higher than legal requirements, in the direction that ethical expectations are moving, so that we can avoid falling behind. 

To keep up with rapid change, we need to aim higher and farther ahead.

When we aim higher, we reach for ethics of care, respect and inclusion, sustainable business and corporate social responsibility.

It is easiest to stick to “what has always worked,” but organizations that are doing well in ethics are intentionally adapting to the future as it unfolds. They are staying ethically competent through a commitment to continual (individual and organizational) learning.

Learn Faster Than the Pace of Change

We aren’t going to stay on top of changes in ethical expectations by just doing what we’ve always done. Keeping up requires constant vigilance.

Some people are still leading using the ethics of yesteryear. And that has consequences.

We can discuss and learn from the many ethical issues in the news. We can put preventive measures in place to be sure the mistakes of others don’t happen in our organizations. But we will need more than just negative examples to succeed.

The scope of what is considered “ethical territory” is broadening, so we need to advance our ethical competence faster than the pace of change. Let me repeat that – faster than the pace of change. 

We can never stop learning. We may become unethical just by doing “what we’ve always done” as the world changes.

When we stop learning, we may quickly become unethical by not changing as the world changes around us. Are we just working on our individual ethics (moral awareness, character and integrity), but not paying attention to interpersonal and societal ethics (respect, inclusion and care, service in communities, sustainability and the greater good)? Ethics is not a simple one-dimensional challenge, so to be ethically competent, we must stretch and learn every day.  

Successful ethical leaders are proactive about ethics and adapt to changing ethical expectations. They aim for ethics future, not ethics past.

Want to learn more?

Please join me, @leadingincontxt, as I guest host the #LeadWithGiants Tweetchat with @DanVForbes on Monday, September 8th at 7:00 pm EDT on the topic of Ethical Leadership.

Follow the Leading in Context Blog for more articles that help you Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™ 

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For more, see the new guide book to ethical leadership future called 7 Lenses and the related 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

“Hearing” All Stakeholders (Even When They’re Not in the Room)?

Silent Stakeholders

By Linda Fisher Thornton

A quiet group of stakeholders is being considered in leadership conversations. They can’t weigh in on major decisions, but they have a lot at stake in the decisions that get made. They are silent stakeholders, and the decisions we make in our meetings every day affects them directly.

These silent stakeholders include consumers who expect to have their interests and their safety protected. They are current and future employees who want to work for ethical companies that care.  They are communities and ecosystems that need protecting to ensure our healthy and successful future. Are we considering their needs when they aren’t in the room? Are we hearing them?

Ethical leadership includes proactively doing good and preventing harm. Our responsibility to do that extends to silent stakeholders – people who can’t speak up in protest when we’re about to make a bad decision that affects them.

Business leaders are increasingly expected to demonstrate care for stakeholders who are not in the room. 

With so many ethical scandals in the news, consumers have become quite aware of risks. They are more actively protecting their interests, even though they are not invited into the closed meetings where decisions that affect their health and safety are made.

Considering Our Impact on Silent Stakeholders

Leaders who think long-term and seek to minimize harm broadly consider all stakeholders, including those who are not in the room.

At our best, we demonstrate care for all constituents, all the way up and down the line.

As you consider these questions, keep in mind that ethical leaders recognize and honor their responsibilities to all constituents, including those who are not in the room.

  • What will be the effect of this decision on the end user?
  • What will be the long-term impact of this decision on the environment, communities and ecosystems?
  • How will those who cannot speak for themselves (but need our care) be affected by this decision?

 

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For more, see new 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Using Negative Examples to Teach Ethics? Why It’s Not Enough.

20140707_200217By Linda Fisher Thornton

How many times have we tried to teach people about ethics by explaining every detail of what it doesn’t look like? We describe laws and regulations and ethics guidelines in great detail, then ask attendees if there are any questions. After learning in great detail how to stay out of trouble, the thought on their minds may just be “Okay, now I know what NOT to do.”

We can’t teach ethics by giving people negative examples.

Just as we don’t learn how to drive a car by only hearing about accidents, we don’t learn ethical behavior by hearing about the times someone didn’t use it. It should be obvious to us, but the lure of focusing on complying on laws and regulations is strong. Those laws and regulations, though, are only designed to prevent the “what not to do” examples we hear about in the news. So “teaching” them is only teaching people how to avoid punishment.

The trap in teaching people how to avoid punishment is that it doesn’t build an ethical culture. An organization can have everyone comply with laws and regulations, and still be unethical. Why? Because ethics is about leading with positive values, not just preventing ethical failures. If we focus people’s attention primarily on the shadow side of ethics (unethical choices) we are missing the point entirely.

Ethics is about leading with positive values, not just preventing ethical failures.

Values Build Ethical Cultures

Positive values like respect, care, transparency, sustainability and service help build ethical cultures. Teaching people what they look like, and how to work together using them helps build trust and improve ethics.

“In an ideal workplace, structures and relationships will work together around core values that transcend self-interest.”

Shaping an Ethical Workplace Culture, SHRM Foundation

We need to keep the focus on what we want people to do, not just what we don’t want them to do. We need to clear up ethical grey areas with positive values.

Take a moment to think about how often you talk about compliance and how often you talk about values. Be sure you talk about positive values at least as often as you talk about compliance. Values represent a higher level of ethics than laws do, so ask for the level of ethics you want.

 

522For more, see new 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Critical Roles of the (Ethical) CEO

When-we-intentionally

By Linda Fisher Thornton

There have been many stories about unethical CEOs in the news, but not as many about the good ones. That’s a shame, because the ethical CEO is a positive powerhouse – devoted to serving employees, customers, and communities. I thought it would be helpful to describe some of the critical functions of the ethical CEO that enable organizational success. Intentionally investing in these roles creates the kind of workplaces that attract top employees and devoted customers. 

Critical Roles of the (Ethical) CEO

Ethical Leadership Role Model

High Level Trust-Builder

Champion For Ethical Values

Ethical Prevention Advocate

Highest Leader Accountable For Ethics

Accountability Consistency Monitor

Ethics Dialogue Leader

Ethical Decision-Making Coach

Ethical Culture Builder

There are many other things that CEOs do besides the roles listed here, but these are particularly important for creating ethical high-trust cultures. The ethical CEO knows these roles should never be ignored when other pressures loom. The reason? Investing in these roles every day (while doing other things) greatly reduces the need for handling crises later.

Ethical CEOs know that ethical prevention, open dialogue and intentional trust-building are keys that unlock great organizational performance. Besides that, it’s much easier to help leaders wrestle with ethical problems in real-time than it is to clean up messes when there is a visible ethical mistake.

Don’t leave organizational ethics to chance.  Ethical cultures need these roles, and the best ethical CEOs tackle them earnestly. Are these roles included in the CEO’s job description in your organization?

 

522For more, see new 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

5 Reasons Ethical Culture Doesn’t Just Happen

EthCultureBy Linda Fisher Thornton

Don’t assume that an ethical culture will just happen in your workplace. Even if you are a good leader, ethical culture is a delicate thing, requiring intentional positive leadership and daily tending. It requires more than good leadership, more than trust building, and more than good hiring.

Why does building an ethical culture require so much more than good leadership? Ethical culture is a system of systems, and just putting in good leadership, trust-building and good hiring doesn’t make it healthy.

Managing people systems requires that we pay just as much attention to what we “take out” as what we “put in.”

Just dealing with obvious ethics lapses won’t ensure that they don’t happen again, and fixing them won’t build an ethical culture. Building an ethical culture requires that we both “put in” ethical values and “take out” negative behaviors that erode trust. Culture is subtle, and we must be just as careful with “unspoken rules” as we are with “corporate messages.” 

Here are 5 reasons why ethical culture doesn’t just happen, followed by a 10 minute podcast with proactive strategies for building an ethical culture.

5 Reasons Ethical Culture Doesn’t Just Happen 

1. Ethical culture is a human performance system that must align across multiple functions.

2. Ethical culture depends on consistent messages about ethics across the organization and a safe space to talk about grey areas not covered by corporate values and ethics codes.

3. Ethical culture requires zero tolerance for abusing situations for personal gain, and quick correction of behaviors that fall outside of expected values and behavior.

4. Ethical culture requires trust, and must be built on a high foundation of positive values (respect, care, sustainability), not on a low foundation of compliance with laws.

5. Ethical culture requires that every member of every team be held accountable for living out ethical decision-making and ethical behavior. No exceptions.

I was recently interviewed on Federal News Radio “In Depth With Francis Rose” about strategies for developing an ethical culture.  Key points raised in that conversation are important for all leaders. For more detail about ethical culture building, listen to the full 10 minute interview.

There’s another important variable that makes building an ethical culture tricky – it requires a learning mindset. Making ethical choices in a global society requires high level thinking, and we must approach it as a long-term learning process. We must avoid the easy temptation to look for a quick fix, because linear problem-solving never fixes a broken system.

522For more, see new 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LL

13 (Culture-Numbing) Side Effects of Toxic Leadership

Toxic Culture 2By Linda Fisher Thornton

A reader commented on the post Can A Toxic Leader Be Ethical? Yes and No  requesting more information about the organizational side-effects of toxic leadership. If you have ever worked for a toxic leader (myself included) you have already experienced the powerful negative side effects first-hand.

When people are treated as “less than human,” “less than capable” or as “pawns in a game” some extremely negative things happen in the organization that derail its success. Attempts to control what people do and say makes them feel inadequate and unappreciated. Withholding information to preserve power creates an environment of suspicion. 

The effects of these behaviors over time is numbing. The downward effect on morale and productivity is easily visible in the fear, frustration and uncertainty on people’s faces. 

13 (Culture-Numbing) Side Effects of Toxic Leadership on Organizational Culture

  1. Low productivity

  2. Low morale

  3. Rampant fear

  4. High stress

  5. Decreased learning

  6. Employees becoming detached and insulated to protect themselves

  7. Detached employees help each other less and don’t communicate as proactively

  8. Lack of proactive communication and teamwork leads to diminished company reputation

  9. Employees fail to find meaning in their work

  10. People dread what each day may bring

  11. Trust in each other and in the organization is lost

  12. People leave, generating high turnover

  13. The ripple effect from #1-12 above leads to deteriorating organizational results

Toxic leadership is unethical. It harms people, groups and organizations. The side effects are crippling. We must carefully prevent this kind of un-leadership from happening in our organizations.

To learn more, see Can a Toxic Leader Be Ethical? Yes and No . You may also enjoy Marla Gottschalk’s article Managers Beware: What Toxic “Jane” or “Joe” Can Do To Your Team.

 

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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Is Your Leadership Net Positive?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Generating an intentional positive ethical impact is the successful ethical leadership of the future, and it’s already here. The Forum For the Future describes it as net positive leadership – making a positive contribution to society and leaving things better than we found them. This commitment represents a higher level of ethical leadership than just preventing harm – we are preventing harm and adding value.

“The ambition of business has to change. From doing less harm to becoming net positive.”

Net Positive: A new way of doing business, A Report by the Forum For the Future, World Wildlife Fund and The Climate Group.

The net positive leadership concept is a natural extension of our changing awareness of the purpose of leadership. In the recently published book 7 Lenses, I describe how our understanding of the purpose of leadership has evolved over time from transactions to service and more recently to the greater good.

Fully-honoring-the (1)

In The Guardian article “Can a business really be net positive, and if so, how do we judge success?” Oliver Balch writes that “Any movement needs its champions, and net positive boasts a coterie of early cheerleaders, including Kingfisher and IkeaCoca-ColaRio Tintoand BT (on carbon).” As business leaders embrace the net positive movement, Oliver explains, they may discover that it is difficult to tackle becoming net positive in every aspect of the business at once – leaders in the net positive movement start with one area that is pivotal to their brand. 

There is the danger that some companies will promote their net positive progress in one area of the business while causing harm in other areas. As explained by Steve Downing in “How net positive could turn out to be net negative” “practitioners of net positive should confront the negatives in their policies and make them part of their story.” 

An ethics award and an ethics violation don’t net out to equal good ethics. One area of positive impact and one area of harm do not add up to net positive business.

“Net Positive” gives us new terminology for understanding the positive impact of our leadership. While it will be challenging to implement, it provides us with a stretch goal that will make our leadership more impactful. 

There is a very human side to the net positive equation that includes enhancing people’s lives and helping them grow. Take a moment to think about your daily leadership. Would the people and groups you lead describe it as “Net Positive?”

 

522 For 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

How to Build an Ethical Culture

 

2013-08-06 18.38.33By Linda Fisher Thornton

Today I’m sharing hand-picked resources about how to build an ethical culture. The most recent one was just published this week by Government Executive magazine. They acknowledge complexity, and are based on performance improvement and ethical principles. 

This collection provides practical advice for how to build high trust cultures and keep the ethics conversation alive. Use it to create workplaces where people thrive and where “ethical” is a way of life.

Ethical Culture Building

How to Build a Strong Ethical Culture at Your Agency Government Executive (just published this week!)

Got Ethics? Are You Positive? Leading in Context Blog

Managing Ethical Leadership as a Performance System Leading in Context Blog

How Do We Achieve Corporate Integrity? Leading in Context Blog

5 Ways CEOs can Build an Ethical Culture Leading in Context Blog

Building an Ethical Culture (Webcast), ASTD, The Public Manager Webcast (Requires entering email address)

Ethical Leadership Culture: The Case of the Dissenting Senior Leader, Leading in Context Blog

Bringing Out the Best in People and Organizations, Leading in Context Blog

Well-Being is Trending, Leading in Context Blog

Having Meaningful Ethics Conversations

What is Ethical Leadership? Leading in Context Blog

Leading the Conversation About Ethical Leadership, Leading in Context Blog 

How Current is My Message About Ethics? Leading in Context Blog

Getting Past Murky Uncertainty Leading in Context Blog

Developing an Ethical Mindset

What Ethical Leaders Believe, Manifesto via ChangeThis.com

It’s Not About Us, Leading in Context Blog

15 Ways to Encourage Moral Growth in Leadership, Leading in Context Blog

Ethics Isn’t Finite: It’s Evolving, Leading in Context Blog

Trust Building

10 Things Trustworthy Leaders Do, Leading in Context Blog

Building Trust: What to Weed Out, Leading in Context Blog

Ethics and Trust are Reciprocal, Leading in Context Blog

Developing Ethical Leaders

Dealing With Complexity in Leadership, Leading in Context Blog

5 Leadership Development Priorities, Leading in Context Blog

Developing the Ethical Leader of the Future, Leading in Context Blog

522For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses 

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

10 Things Trustworthy Leaders Do

20140323_172748By Linda Fisher Thornton

Trustworthy leaders know how to create a workplace where everyone is valued, where leadership is sincere and respectful, and where great work can get done. How do they do it? What is it in particular that trustworthy leaders do?

These 10 things are on my list of the things trustworthy leaders do. What else would you add?

What Do Trustworthy Leaders Do?

  1. Lead With Positive Values (In Every Situation)
  2. Acknowledge Complexity (And Help People Deal With It)
  3. Demonstrate and Expect Respectful Behavior (Even When It’s a Challenge)
  4. Know Their Own Mindsets and Assumptions (And Be Willing to Change Them)
  5. Show People They Care (In Big and Small Ways)
  6. Think Long Term (Always Doing What’s Most Ethical in the Long Run)
  7. Extend an Open Invitation to Talk (About Ethics, About Bad News, About Good News)
  8. Show They Care (About People and the Success of the Group)
  9. Communicate Clear Ethical Values (And Live Them Every Day)
  10. Contribute to the Well-Being of Those They Lead (Including Reducing Stress)

Trustworthy leaders also regularly weed out negative behaviors that erode the trust within the group. This careful tending lets the trust they plant and the groups they lead flourish. Your challenge? See how many of these “10 Things Trustworthy Leaders Do” you can do today.

 

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For 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Getting Past Murky Uncertainty

MurkyUncertaintyBy Linda Fisher Thornton

Workplace issues are complex and opinions vary about the right thing to do in challenging situations. This complexity and uncertainty combine to create a “murky uncertainty” that may keep people from giving us their best, most ethical performance.

Leaders may intend to create an ethical culture, but may still have difficulty getting past the murky uncertainty about what ethics means. To move beyond the uncertainty, we need to take the time to talk about ethical behavior and how we will make ethical decisions. Taking these three actions as part of our overall leadership strategy will help us clear up the conversation about ethics:

1. Make It Safe To Talk Openly About Ethics

Some people think that it’s risky to talk openly about the ethical choices we have to make. They are concerned that people will discover what they’re uncertain about.  I believe that it is much more risky NOT to talk openly about the ethical decisions we’re making. I would rather have an employee know that I am actively struggling to make an ethical decision in a difficult situation than to have them think that I make decisions without considering the ethical impact.

2. Ask People What Is Unclear 

There will always be areas where people are unclear about the most ethical course of action, and what the organization wants them to do. Just ask them. I would guess that in many organizations one of the top issues people are unclear about is how to balance out seemingly competing requests. For example, “use the highest ethics in all we do” and “reach your quarterly targets.” If sales are down, what should we do?? Which one of these goals can be bent a little short term (and please don’t say ethics).

3. Clear It Up With Clear Conversations

What is on your regular meeting agendas? Is it project reports and corporate updates? When we gather people together, we should be talking about our complex challenges and how to make ethical choices in difficult situations.

Clear EthicsWhen we make it safe to talk about our difficult challenges and how we will handle them ethically, we help people move beyond murky uncertainty.

Clear Conversations Lead to Clear Ethics

By having clear conversations about ethics. we empower people to make ethical choices when we’re not around. We prepare them for the real world challenges they’ll have to handle. We build their confidence that they can trust us to help them, and that we will uphold the highest ethics in all that we do… Now that’s clear!

 

 

 

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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 
 

 

 

5 Reports Say Business Ethics is Improving

5 Reports

By Linda Fisher Thornton

What do Deloitte, Strategy & PwC, Dow Jones, The Ethics Resource Center and LRN have to say about trends in business ethics? Get ready for some good news:

“A new era of the responsible enterprise may be here to stay.”

Chris Park and Dinah A. Koehler, “The Responsible Enterprise: Where Citizenship and Commerce Meet’, Deloitte University Press

 

“CEOs are increasingly seeking ‘good growth’ aligned with business ethics and sustainability.”

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

 

“NBES 2013 reveals substantial good news about the state of ethics in American workplaces.”  “The steady and sharp drop in misconduct since 2007 suggests that something both fundamental and good is taking place in the way Americans conduct themselves at work. “

Ethics Resource Center, 2013 National Business Ethics Survey

 

“Fewer companies report ever having lost business to unethical competitors.”

Dow Jones Anti-Corruption Survey Report Results 2014

 

“Many steps forward, just a few back, and still a long way to go.”

LRN, 2014 Ethics and Compliance Program Effectiveness Report

 

While these reports hold very encouraging news, we must remember where we are. While overall business ethics is improving, it is improving from a low starting point.  It will take more time and intentional effort to get to where we need to be. 

Some business leaders have realized that proactive ethics meets constituent expectations, delights employees and leads to better overall organizational performance. These proactive ethical leaders build a culture based on high standards and positive ethical values and enable their organizations to live up to those standards every day. This is the future of business. Are your leaders ready?

Got Ethics? Are You Positive?

10 Forces Fueling the Values-Based Leadership Movement

Developing the Ethical Leader of the Future

 

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For 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

Ethics and Trust are Reciprocal

20140323_173426By Linda Fisher Thornton

I was asked recently to explain in simple terms how ethics and trust are related. It is a great question, because we define trust and ethics in so many different ways.

Here are some observations about how trust and ethics are related, and what their relationship means for us as organizational leaders.

What is the Relationship Between Ethics and Trust?

Proactive ethics is part of what it takes to build trust.

Building trust is part of what is required to maintain good ethics.

Ethical behavior and choices help build trust.

High trust environments encourage better ethics.

When trust is lost, people are less likely to uphold the organization’s ethics.

When ethics is absent, trust is elusive.

The Positive Balance

What does all of this mean to us as leaders? It means that ethics and trust are reciprocal and mutually reinforcing. Improving one improves the other. Damaging one damages the other.

Ethics and trust are reciprocal. They are mutually reinforcing. 

If we lead in ways that are trustworthy, we are fulfilling an important part of our responsibility as ethical leaders. When it comes to leading ethically, trust is not a nice-to-have,  it’s a “must have.” If we lead ethically, that lets people know they can count on us, and being able to count on us builds trust with individuals and within the group.

Ethics and trust are inseparable. They travel together.

Trust and ethics travel together, as if tethered with a bungee cord. One will not travel far without pulling the other with it. For example, if I intentionally improve my ethics, that will also begin to improve trust. If I work on improving trust, that will also increase the chances that my team is watching out for ethics and would alert me if something happened that would put us as risk.

Exercising Ethics and Trust 

Ethics and trust act in tandem. Think of them as the respiratory system and heart of the organization. If one fails, the other follows. Keeping them in good shape requires constant attention and daily practice.

Ethics and trust are improved through intentional practice. 

The good news is that just as the human respiratory system and the heart are improved through exercise, organizational ethics and trust can be strengthened through intentional daily practice.

 

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For 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

10 Forces Fueling the Values-Based Leadership Movement

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I believe that values-based leadership is gaining momentum. Recently I was asked to explain why I think so, and I thought I would share my answer in today’s blog post. Here are a number of trends that I see that are working together to fuel the movement toward leading with positive values.

Values-based leadership is gaining momentum, and it’s fueled by a convergence of positive trends.

These forces are coming from various directions and perspectives, all leading toward positive, proactive values-based leadership. See if you recognize any of them, and feel free to comment with your additions to the list.

 

ValuesBased Leadership TrendsFINALCrop

 

How do forward-thinking leaders define “doing well?” They don’t define it as simply reaching financial projections and avoiding lawsuits.  They define it as always leading with values. They define success in terms of mutual benefit – creating shared value for multiple stakeholders and making a positive difference. 

 

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For 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

Building Trust: What to Weed Out

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I was weeding in the garden this week, and I discovered two new weeds that were taller than I was. I started thinking about how quickly things can get away from us, in the garden and in our organizations. There are actions we must take to build a high trust workplace. But there are equally important things that we must prevent or weed out for trust to flourish.

What are the things that can get away from us if not corrected quickly? What can damage the trust we have worked so hard to build? What do we need to weed out for trust to flourish?

Blog Photo 4

A “Weed Out” List For Trust Building

  • Needing to be “right”
  • Being too busy to listen
  • Saying one thing and doing another
  • Treating people like “resources” rather than humans
  • Being disrespectful to any one or any group
  • Selectively praising only favorite employees
  • Blaming instead of resolving the problem
  • Correcting employees in public
  • Withholding information from people who need it to be successful
  • Asking people to do something you are not willing to do
  • Vague values
  • Mixed messages (“use the highest ethics” AND “do whatever it takes to make the numbers”)
  • Oversimplified conversations about ethics (which leaves it to individual discretion)
  • Fear-based or controlling leadership
  • Failure of leaders to learn and grow as times change
  • Not listening to employees who want to improve processes and results
  • Using profit-centered (instead of values-centered) leadership
  • Ignoring work complexity and leaving people to “figure it out”
  • Status-based communication (top down, don’t ask questions)
  • Using cause-and-effect thinking in a systems world
  • Generating high stress situations (without providing support for employee well-being)

I realize now that this list could go on… and on…. What else do you think we should “weed out” to build and nurture high trust cultures?

 

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For 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

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