Well-Being is Trending

Well-BeingBy Linda Fisher Thornton

Have you noticed that well-being is trending? It’s not enough just to provide fair pay and good work conditions any more. People want to participate in something meaningful and work in high-trust cultures where they can flourish. They seek out companies that care about their well-being.

Making Life Better

Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte predicts in his article The Year of the Employee: Predictions For Talent, Leadership and HR Technology In 2014 that we will need to “re-imagine employee engagement in a new, integrated way” and seek to create “rewarding, exciting and empowering” experiences.

Our workplace focus is moving toward promoting general well-being.

We are beginning to focus on the wellness and happiness of the whole person, and are more aware of the importance of measures of success that incorporate overall well-being. Gallup.com has a Well-Being Index that shows trending levels of well-being over time. OECD publishes an annual “How’s Life?” Report that goes beyond financial measures to evaluate social well-being and progress. The Happy Planet Index  rates each country in the world on aspects needed for people to live long and happy lives.

Well-being is on the minds of consumers as well. Trendwatching.com comments in Internet of  Caring Things that consumers will “lavish love and attention on products, services and experiences” that actively care for their well-being and the well-being of their loved ones.

The Ethics Factor

Positive, intentional management of ethics in organizations supports the overall well-being of employees, customers and communities. Ethics also gives organizational metrics a boost. When we treat people well, we bring out their best.

Ethical leaders support the well-being of those they lead and serve.

Happy people who trust their ethical leaders tend to be more engaged, more creative and more productive. 

Paying attention to well-being makes sense.

In this case what’s good for employee well-being is good for the well-being of the organization too. 

Linda Fisher Thornton is an author, speaker, consultant and adjunct faculty member who helps organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™. Her new book is 7 Lenses.

 

Success From the Field Interview – Balancing Ethics and Profits

By Linda Fisher Thornton 

This week Will Eisenbrandt posted my interview with him about ethical leadership at NetworkedWealth.com.  This interview, the Success From the Field Podcast with Linda Fisher Thornton is a great overview of the 7 Lenses™ of Ethical Responsibility. In the interview, Will asks me how to balance ethical values in day-to-day decisions – for example, balancing profits with concern for the planet.

Managing ethics is all about balancing multiple values, and making sure that the trade-offs we make don’t harm others. The table below shows the 7 Lenses of Ethical Responsibility that I introduced in the book 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership.  The 7 Lenses™ together give us a multidimensional view of ethical leadership, one that represents the complexity of the challenges that we deal with on a daily basis.

Ethical leadership is not something we will ever finish, or check off a to-do list. It is an ongoing learning journey. Think about which of the 7 Lenses your organization honors in day-to-day decisions and actions, and which ones represent areas for growth and improvement.

Click here for more author interviews about balancing ethical values and economic goals.

Subscribe to the Leading in Context Blog and never miss another post!

About Linda Fisher Thornton          

As CEO of Leading in Context, Linda helps forward-thinking leaders and organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.™ Linda’s book 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership (with a foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey) provides a clear framework for leading ethically in a complex world . 

“Each lens is part of ethical leadership, and when any one is ignored, we fail to lead ethically in its fullest interpretation.”
Linda Fisher Thornton, in 7 Lenses
  
Linda@LeadinginContext.com @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses  

12 Favorite Blog Posts of 2013

ThorntonBy Linda Fisher Thornton

It is difficult to believe that I have written well over 200 weekly blog posts since 2009. In the process of writing all of those posts, I gradually sharpened my focus and found my authentic voice as a blogger. (If you are interested in reading more about the ups and downs of that journey, see 150th Blog Post: Learning Out Loud). 

Today I have chosen my annual favorites – the posts that readers enjoyed and shared and that I think best convey an important message about how to Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™ in ourselves and our organizations. See if these 12 posts that I have picked as favorites strike a chord with you as well.

Dealing With Complexity in Leadership

Which of These is Ethical Leadership?

Leading the Conversation About Ethical Leadership

Managing Ethical Leadership as a Performance System

The Leading in Context Manifesto

Modeling Ethical Leadership and Behavior

What is Ethical Leadership?

10 Ways Leading With Ethics is Transformational

Bringing Out the Best in People and Organizations (Through Ethical Leadership)

What Ethical Leaders Believe

16 Trends Shaping the Future of Ethical Leadership

10 Ethical Leadership Questions for the New Year

Subscribe to the Leading in Context Blog and never miss another post!

About Linda Fisher Thornton          

As CEO of Leading in Context, Linda helps forward-thinking leaders and organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.™ Linda’s book 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership (with a foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey) provides a clear framework for leading ethically in a complex world . 

“Each lens is part of ethical leadership, and when any one is ignored, we fail to lead ethically in its fullest interpretation.”                                              
Linda Fisher Thornton, in 7 Lenses
Linda@LeadinginContext.com @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses  

16 Trends Shaping the Future of Ethical Leadership

Thornton

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Today, I want to share with you the picture of the future that I see, based on a powerful movement toward positive, proactive ethical leadership. As a global community, we are increasingly aware of the impact of our choices on others.  We are more aware of our human connection and our responsibilities to one another. 

There is a trend toward considering our responsibilities broadly, beyond making profits to also making a difference. 

Here is my list of 16 trends shaping the future of ethical leadership. 

As we head into the New Year, let’s help our leaders be ready for this positive, proactive “ethical leadership future.”

16 Trends Shaping the Future of Ethical Leadership

To learn more about the future of ethical leadership, see the “What Ethical Leaders Believe” Manifesto by Linda Fisher Thornton at ChangeThis.com.

7 Lenses Book

About Linda Fisher Thornton

As CEO of Leading in Context, Linda Fisher Thornton helps forward-thinking leaders and organizations bring out their best by developing ethical leaders and aligning ethical leadership performance systems. In 2013, she was named one of the Global Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America. Linda’s new book 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership provides a clear framework for learning to lead ethically in a complex world. 

Leading in Context is a leader in providing clear tools for businesses of all sizes for implementing “ethical leadership future.”   

Bringing Out the Best in People and Organizations

7 LensesBy Linda Fisher Thornton

After 4 years of researching and writing, I am proud to announce that my new book 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership is launching this week.

7 Lenses proposes a framework for learning the kind of ethical leadership that brings out the best in people and organizations. It is written for leaders who want to build ethical companies and cultures, stronger communities and a better world.

It provides a road map for learning how to lead in ways that fully honor personal, interpersonal and societal dimensions of ethical responsibility. The four-quadrant model and case studies give readers a clear picture of the kind of ethical leadership we need.

In the foreword, Stephen M. R. Covey writes “Use this wonderful book as a guide on your ethical leadership journey, and you will deeply engage your workforce and build enduring trust.”

Thornton_01v3

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC

7 Lenses is organized in three parts. Part One answers the question “What is ethical leadership?” from 7 different perspectives that together form a multidimensional model I call the 7 Lenses™. Part Two guides leaders in applying 14 Guiding Principles that honor all 7 Lenses. Part Three explores how ethical expectations are changing, and describes six connected trends shaping the future of ethical leadership.

This book was written to answer these questions:

1) What is ethical leadership in a complex world?
2) Why don’t ethics experts agree about it?
3) What is the framework we should be using to guide our day-to-day leadership?
4) How can we stay ahead of changes in ethical expectations?

While 4 years ago, I did not have answers to these questions, now 7 Lenses answers them clearly and practically. It is no longer enough to honor the triple bottom line. This book will help you reach for the highest level of ethical leadership, honoring all 7 dimensions of ethical responsibility. See LeadinginContext.com/7 Lenses for more information. 

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC

About Linda Fisher Thornton

Linda was named one of the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America. Her new book is 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership. She also teaches as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies. 

The LeadinginContext Manifesto is a statement of belief about ethical leadership that is behind the book 7 Lenses and Thornton’s movement to bring out the best in people, organizations and communities. www.LeadinginContext.com

200th Blog Post – Learning at the Speed of Life

Linda Fisher Thornton

By Linda Fisher Thornton

In my 150th Blog Post, I wrote about starting a blog and being new to the process of Learning Out Loud. To celebrate my 200th post, I want to reflect on what it’s been like to learn new things faster than I ever thought possible. It seems especially clear to me now that we all have capabilities we’re not using in our day to day lives. But imagine what could happen if we believed we could make a difference, lurched toward that goal unsteadily, and then just held on for the ride.

The dream for Leading in Context LLC started small, with a passion for responsible leadership, an intense curiosity and a question – “What does it mean to lead ethically in a complex world?”

Taking on that question brought this response on Twitter – “Good luck with that. Let us know when you get there!” Knowing that the question was too big to answer and that people didn’t think I could do it just made me work harder. In the process, I tapped into potential I never knew I had.

As you read about my journey, reflect on what you’re curious about, and how seeking the answer might be transformational.

What has stretched me in the past year? 

  • Winning a thought leader award connected me with a wonderful new global group of people, many of whom were already well-established in their areas of expertise. I had to step up.
  • Leading an Innovations in Teaching project for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies had me looking at Innovation in an educational setting. I had to step up.
  • Working with a thought leader strategy coach put a viable long-term business based on my question within reach. I had to step up.

What phrases are no longer in my vocabulary?

  • “What I have is working”
  • “I don’t think I can do that,” and
  • “There isn’t enough time.”

What challenges will the next year bring?

  • Implementing the new business strategy built earlier this year
  • Launching a new and improved website, and
  • Launching a practical book about how to lead ethically in a complex world

What mindset will I bring to my work?

  • Each time I reach the top of a mountain, I will be able to see the next one more clearly
  • The resources and support I need for success will be there when I need them, and
  • This is the most challenging work I’ve ever done, and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had.

What are you curious about?

Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO of Leading in Context LLC, a leadership development consulting firm. This year, Linda was named one of the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America.

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC. All rights reserved.

10 Favorite Quotes From the Leading in Context Blog

10 Quotes

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I noticed that Jesse Lyn Stoner’s Blog Post Celebrating the 2nd Anniversary of My Blog included her favorite quotes from her blog. Her post appeared in the Mini-Carnival of HR at CostofWork.com along with my 150th Blog Post Learning Out Loud .

This week, I thought I’d share 10 of my favorite quotes from the Leading in Context Blog. Clicking on each quote takes you to the full post that includes the quote.

Visit the Leading in Context® Blog Index for more articles about how to lead ethically in a complex world.

Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO of Leading in Context LLC, a leadership development consulting firm. Linda was named one of the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America.

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC. All rights reserved.

Leading Ethically and The Control Trap

042313ControllingLeadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Why is controlling leadership so harmful in organizations? There are a number of powerful reasons that have ethical implications:

1. Controlling leadership generates stress and fear

2. Controlling leadership reduces productivity, innovation and engagement

3. Controlling leadership takes the meaning and fun out of doing a job

4. Controlling leadership does not consider or respect employees’ knowledge and abilities

5. Controlling leadership creates a toxic work environment and a low-trust culture

People who are fearful and stressed cannot do their best work. Controlling leadership violates many of the principles of ethical leadership. What is the control trap? When a leader tries to control the actions of employees to make sure that they “do it right,” that controlling behavior takes away their natural ability to do good work. 

Here are some ways that we can bring out the best in our people and honor what they know how to do:

  • Extend Trust – We need to let people know that we trust them to do good work 
  • Remove Barriers – We need to remove barriers to effective work (even if we are part of the problem!)
  • Support  Interests – Ask people what they most want to learn and consider that when assigning projects

“A leader is not an administrator who loves to run others, but someone who carries water for his people so that they can get on with their jobs.” — Robert Townsend

Good performance is not something that you can control – but you can release it by the way that you choose to lead.

Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO of Leading in Context LLC, a leadership development consulting firm. Linda was named one of the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America.

How to Use the Leading in Context® Website

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC. All rights reserved.

Leading the Conversation About Ethical Leadership

Leading the Conversation

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Dialogue is a powerful tool for developing ethical organizations. Workplace issues are complex and opinions vary about what ethical leadership means. This combination creates a kind of “murky uncertainty” that keeps leaders from giving us their best, most ethical performance.

To move beyond this “murky uncertainty,” we need to take the time to talk about what ethical behavior means. Use the twelve questions in the discussion guide below to start building a shared understanding of your organization’s definition of ethical leadership behavior.

LEADING THE CONVERSATION IN OUR ORGANIZATIONS

Here are some questions that may help you define ethical issues and appropriate leader behaviors in the context of your organizational values:

  • What are the specific ethical behaviors that are required of all organizational leaders?
  • What are the consequences if they don’t behave ethically?
  • What are the situations that people encounter that could lead them into a grey area?
  • How should those grey areas be handled?
  • What does it look like when leaders perform according to the organization’s stated values?
  • What does it look like when they don’t?
  • How should people make decisions when they encounter difficult situations?
  • Where might our leaders fall into grey areas while implementing our goals and values?
  • What are areas where we will not tolerate compromise?
  • What are areas of flexibility?
  • Where do we need to clarify our mission and values, to make it clear that we are an ethical organization, and ethics is not negotiable?
  • How can we more effectively recruit, recognize, and retain ethical leaders?

Linda Fisher Thornton, “Leadership Ethics Training: Why is it So Hard to Get it Right?”  reprinted in Training and Development: The Best of Leadership Development, American Society for Training and Development. (March, 2010)

Without a clear picture of what ethical behavior means in our organizations, we’re unlikely to achieve it.  While the conversation may take some time, it will take less time than dealing with the problems that happen when leaders work in “murky uncertainty.”

Let’s get the conversation started.

Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO of Leading in Context LLC, a leadership development consulting firm. Linda was named one of the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America.

How to Use the Leading in Context® Website

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC. All rights reserved.

When is a Decision an Ethical One?

When is a Decision an Ethical One?By Linda Fisher Thornton

As we make leadership decisions, do we actively think about which ones are “ethical” decisions? Do we recognize the “ethical” decisions easily? Complying with laws and ethics codes clearly has ethical implications. But what about day-to-day decisions like these?

  1. “Who should we promote to a leadership position?
  2. “What kind of paper should we buy?”
  3. Which suppliers should we choose?”

These questions may seem routine, but they also have ethical implications. Let’s look at some of the ethical issues that we need to pay attention to when making these three decisions:

1. “Who should we promote to a leadership position?”  What are some of the ethical issues that we need to consider?

  • We should only reward ethical behavior during the promotion process.
  • We should only promote ethical employees to leadership positions, so that they can model the behavior that we want employees to use.
  • We should choose someone to promote who knows how to balance the needs of multiple stakeholders.
  • We should promote someone who uses respectful interpersonal behavior and knows how to build trust, so that they can help us build an ethical culture.

2. “What kind of paper should we buy?”  What are some of the ethical issues that we need to consider?

  • Should we buy recycled or partly recycled paper to reduce our environmental impact?
  • If we don’t use recycled paper, is the paper we choose sustainably harvested?
  • How does our choice need to support the sustainability goals of our organization?

3. “Which supplier should we choose?”  What are some of the ethical issues that we need to consider?

  • Does each supplier that we are considering use fair labor and honor human rights?
  • Does each supplier that we are considering use sustainable business practices and minimize environmental impact?
  • Does each supplier that we are considering demonstrate transparency about leadership practices?

The ethical issues listed above are only a sampling of the kinds of ethical issues involved in making these three decisions. Choosing suppliers, for example, requires checking reputation in more areas than just the ones mentioned here.

Ethical leadership in a global society incorporates so many broad elements of responsibility that most of our decisions will touch at least one of them. “Ethical” isn’t just a kind of decision-making. It is the way we need to think about all of our choices,  today and every day.

Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO of Leading in Context LLC, a leadership development consulting firm helping business leaders lead responsibly in a complex world.  Linda was recently named one of the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America.

How to Use the Leading in Context® Website

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC. All rights reserved.

Which of These Is Ethical Leadership?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Which levels shown in the graphic below represent ethical leadership?

Is Just Following Laws Ethical Leadership?

The first level on the left, sidestepping laws and ethics codes, is clearly not ethical leadership. This self-focused, opportunistic approach to leadership represents a leader operating below the law or seeking loopholes for personal gain.

Which of These is Ethical Leadership

What about the second level, in the middle? Is complying with laws and ethics codes ethical leadership? When leaders and businesses operate below the level of  laws and regulations, they are punished.

The punishment threshold, though, is definitely not the same as the level of ethical leadership that we need in organizations. If we settle for leadership at this level, we will be missing many other important aspects of ethical leadership that are well above the punishment threshold.  

Increasing Expectations

Following laws and regulations is just above the punishment threshold for ethical leadership.

Expectations are moving to a much higher level, a level at which we are expected to do much more. Look at the third level, the highest level of the graphic. Aren’t transparency, sustainability and honoring human rights now expected of all businesses? I believe they are, and there are other factors we need to consider that are not on this list. The minimum standard is gradually moving to a higher level as we better understand the impact of our choices on others in a global society.

There are more ways of interpreting ethical leadership than just the three shown in this graphic, but the graphic illustrates the point that leaders are interpreting “ethical leadership” at very different levels. 

As we understand our global interdependence more clearly, the expectations for leading ethically will only increase. Aiming for the principled level of ethical leadership, the highest level, prepares us to meet our challenges as responsible global citizens.

Questions For Reflection

  1. Which of the three levels shown in the graphic best depicts my perception of what ethical leadership includes?
  2. How can I convey the message to those I lead that expectations for ethical leadership and ethical behavior are increasing?
  3. How will I systematically learn what I’ll need to know in order to respond to the higher expectations of ethical leaders?
  4. How will I share what I learn with others?

Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO of Leading in Context LLC, a leadership development consulting firm helping business leaders lead responsibly in a complex world.  She is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies. Linda was recently named one of the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America.

How to Use the Leading in Context® Website

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC. All rights reserved.

5 Things It’s Safe to Say To An Ethical Leader

By Linda Fisher Thornton

5 Leaf Clover

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, and today I offer some food for thought (with a 5-leaf clover thrown in).

You would need the 5-leaf clover pictured above to keep you out of trouble if you were to say these things to someone without strong ethical leadership. But these 5 things are pretty safe to say to an ethical leader.

5 Things It’s Safe to Say to An Ethical Leader

.

1. Just be yourself.

2. Do whatever it takes to get the job done.

3. Take whatever you need.

4. Let me know what I can do to help.

5. Do what you think is right.

.

Ethical leaders have their own internal moral compass and an awareness of the ethical impact of their choices. You can trust them to make decisions that honor people, laws, the environment and workplace boundaries. When you tell them to “just be themselves” or “do what you think is right” you can be confident that they will consider the ethical impact of their behavior and make responsible choices.

What would you add to this list?

Linda Fisher Thornton is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies. She is also CEO/Owner of Leading in Context LLC, a leadership development consulting firm helping business leaders lead responsibly in a complex world.  

How to Use the Leading in Context® Website

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC. All rights reserved.

Dealing With Complexity in Leadership

SAMSUNGBy Linda Fisher Thornton

Dealing with work complexity has become a major leadership development issue. And it is a challenge that has ethical implications. As our work becomes more complex, so do our ethical dilemmas.

What is Thinking Complexity?

We may want to lead responsibly but still struggle to make ethical decisions in highly complex situations. It would help if we could develop the thinking skills to navigate those situations more easily. If we were prepared to think at a high degree of complexity, we would be better able to understand the organization and its challenges from multiple perspectives when making difficult decisions.

“If managers and leaders are to scratch beneath the surface and delve into the substance of their organizations, what is needed is “cognitive complexity” which can be defined as “the intellectual ability of a manager or leader to envision the organization from multiple and competing perspectives so as to develop a depth of organizational understanding that is at least equal to the factors impacting its functioning.”

Richard Jacobs, Analyzing Organizations Through Cognitive Complexity, Villanova University

Considering multiple perspectives in decision-making provides an advantage to leaders and organizations as they juggle competing demands. How can we prepare leaders to do that?

Preparing Leaders

We are going to need to improve our thinking skills to be ready to deal with the increasing complexity of work in our networked global society. According to Nick Petrie, Center for Creative Leadership, we will need a completely new approach to developing leaders in order to deal with the level of change that is coming.

“There is one thing that I have become certain of and that is that the methods that have been used in the past to develop leaders really, truly, categorically will not be enough for the complexity of challenges which are on their way for organizations (and broader society).”

Nick Petrie, Future Trends in Leadership Development, Center for Creative Leadership

The ability to think through complex problems clearly is an asset to individual leaders and to the organizations they serve. We need to find ways to help leaders develop this ability, and to do that, it helps to understand what it is that leaders with a high degree of thinking complexity do.

What Do Leaders With High Thinking Complexity Do?

As you review this list, consider how you can seek meaningful leadership development experiences that support these practices.

Think in Multiple Dimensions and in Relationships

“Persons who are high in cognitive complexity are able to analyze (i.e., differentiate) a situation into many constituent elements, and then explore connections and potential relationships among the elements; they are multidimensional in their thinking.”

Streufert, S., & Swezey, R. W. (1986). Complexity, managers, and organizations. New York: Academic Press, online at The College of St. Scholastica

Deal Well With Ambiguity and Contradictory Findings 

“There are numerous studies which suggest that individuals who have high cognitive complexity tend to be more tolerant of ambiguity, more comfortable not only with new findings but even with contradictory findings. Moreover, such individuals have a greater ability to observe the world in terms of grey rather than simply in terms of black and white.”

J. Rogers Hollingsworth, Knowledge, Communication and Creativity, University of Wisconsin-Madison, online at wisc.edu

Use Systems Thinking

“To meet the needs of requisite complexity, Knowledge Era leadership requires a change in thinking away from individual, controlling views, and toward views of organizations as complex adaptive systems that enable continuous creation and capture of knowledge.”

Uhl-Bien, Marion & McKelvey, Complexity Leadership Theory: Shifting leadership from the industrial age to the knowledge era, University of Lincoln-Nebraska

Intentionally Seek and Integrate New Information

“Complex people tend to be more open to new information, rely on their own integrative efforts than new information, seek more novel information, search across more categories of information, and are less externally information bound. They tend to take in more information and form more well rounded impressions than less complex persons.”

Streufert, S., & Swezey, R. W. Complexity, managers, and organizations. New York: Academic Press, online at The College of St. Scholastica

Connect Employees, Processes and Tools to Meet Goals

Ultimately, these women and men – armed with cognitive complexity and the skills and techniques associated with best practice – will manage and lead their organizations to achieve their goals by uniting people, technology and process in a more efficient and effective human way.

Richard Jacobs, Analyzing Organizations Through Cognitive Complexity, Villanova University

Simplify Complexity For Those They Lead

Those leaders of the units judged to be ‘most successful’ were not those who demonstrated the higher levels of systemic thinking but, rather, seemed able to simplify complexity for their teams.

Keith Normal Johnston, Complexity of thinking and levels of self-complexity required to sustainably manage the environment, thesis submitted to Australian National University

Leaders who develop a high level of thinking complexity will be better able to help our organizations understand and work through a wide variety of challenges, problems and opportunities. They will make sense out of issues and problems that are multidimensional and connected. And they will be prepared to do what all great leaders do – help those they lead deal with increasing complexity.
To Learn More:
Capitalizing on Complexity (and Other CEO Reports), The IBM C-Suite Studies, ibm.com

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC

Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO of Leading in Context LLC, a leadership development consulting firm, and was recently named one of the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior. Her mission is to clarify what it means to lead responsibly in a complex world.

Testimonials - Learn about the Leading in Context difference from satisfied customers, readers and fans!

 

Compliance With Laws Isn’t Ethical Leadership (There’s More)

12013CWord

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Beyond Compliance

I have intentionally avoided using the C-word (Compliance) in most of my posts, and I decided that it was time to explain why. In this post I’ll explain why laws are not enough, and why complying with laws does not mean that we are leading ethically.

Laws Are Not Enough

Many people equate compliance with ethics. Actually, compliance with laws is the minimum standard and does not adequately represent  “ethical leadership,” which is at a much higher level. Laws are the minimum threshold  - below which people are punished. When we settle for this level of ethics, we are simply working toward staying out of jail – and that is not enough to make us good corporate citizens.

Why is compliance with laws not enough when it comes to leading ethically? What else is there?

Here is an example that illustrates the broader responsibilities that ethical leadership includes. Which of these two views of ethical leadership do you think is the most ethical view?

‘Ethical Business’ Means Making as Much Money as I Can Without Going to Jail

If I tend to think in a win-lose way, then I may be more likely to seek gain for myself without concern for my impact on other stakeholders.

‘Ethical Business’ Includes the Responsibility to Respect and Serve 

If I tend to think in a win-win, service-focused way, then I may be more likely to seek positive solutions for others and consider my responsibilities to them more broadly.

Linda Fisher Thornton, Our Thinking is an Ethical Driver, Leading in Context Blog, December 12, 2012

Clearly, the second example demonstrates a higher level of ethical thinking and a broader sense of responsibility than the first. There are laws that say that I should not attack another person in the workplace. The ethical issues about how I need to treat others are at a much higher level than just restraint from physical violence. They include the need to respect others, demonstrate care and concern for them, and treat them with civility.

Learning Beyond Compliance 

Why don’t laws (that represent the “punishment threshold”) represent ethical leadership? Settling for compliance with laws might mean that we would not physically attack each other, but we may still be disrespectful in ways that erode trust and affect the well-being of employees, customers and other stakeholders.

If we focus just on compliance in our ethics training for leaders, we are aiming too low and we will always be scrambling to catch up as laws change. How can we move beyond just complying with laws (the minimum standard) to leading ethically in organizations (optimal)? These posts provide some guidance:

Developing Globally Responsible Leaders        Ethical Leadership Context

Developing the Ethical Leader of the Future

Instead of focusing on teaching leaders how to stay out of jail, let’s focus on teaching leaders what we want – the optimal level of ethical leadership.

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC

Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO of Leading in Context LLC, a leadership development consulting firm, and was recently named one of the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior. Her mission is to clarify what it means to lead responsibly in a complex world.

What Variables Impact How Freely We Extend Trust?

Variables of Trust

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The recent post Should Trust Be Freely Offered or Conditionally Earned? generated lively discussions in LinkedIn Groups about extending trust when we meet someone new. It was clear from reading the discussions that trust has many different dimensions.

Readers shared how they perceived trust – some saw it as an emotion, some saw it as a relationship, others described it as a mindset. They took the discussion beyond the original question and explored how we extend trust to others based on many variables.

Here is a partial list of the variables that impact how freely we extend trust, based on reader comments. What would you add?

Variables That Impact How Freely We Extend Trust

  1. Our Openness to Learning
  2. Our Past Experiences, Stereotypes and Misinformation (What We Believe is True)
  3. The Other Person’s Reliability and Morality Based on Our Experience With Them
  4. The Level of Our Relationship With the Other Person
  5. Our Perception (Glass Half Full or Half Empty) and Approach to Life
  6. Whether or Not We Share Values or Common Goals With the Other Person
  7. The Perceived Level of Risk in the Situation (and Our Level of Fear)
  8. Our Expectations About How Trustworthy the Person Will Be
  9. How Much the Other Person Has Extended Trust to Us
  10. How Clear the Communication is Between Us
  11. Our Perception of How Capable the Other Person Is
  12. Our Perception of the Other Person’s Motives
  13. The Other Person’s Behavior

In spite of how many variables readers mentioned that impact how freely we extend trust, the majority felt strongly that it is still good to freely extend trust. Below are some of the reasons they named for freely extending trust when we meet someone new.

Reasons Why We Should Extend Trust Freely 

  • Most people are honorable
  • Extending trust is leading by example, showing the other person the way we would like to be trusted
  • Our lives will be unhappy if we mistrust everyone
  • As we trust others, they are more likely to trust us back

Special thanks to the many readers who posted insightful comments in response to the original post. I’ll leave you with this quote:

“Someone who thinks the world is always cheating him is right. He is missing that wonderful feeling of trust in someone or something.” – Eric Hoffer

Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO of Leading in Context LLC, a leadership development consulting firm, and was recently named one of the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior. Her mission is to clarify what it means to lead responsibly in a complex world.

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC

Testimonials - Learn about the Leading in Context difference from satisfied customers, readers and fans!
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,651 other followers

%d bloggers like this: