What is Integrity? Beyond “I’ll Know It When I See It”

20140821_143302By Linda Fisher Thornton

During the recent 2014 NeuroLeadership Summit, Jamil Zaki (an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford) talked about an interesting experiment the Stanford Neuroscience Lab did. The team took a large number of Fortune 100 statements of company values and generated a word cloud from them to see which word would appear most often. Which word was it? Integrity was the most frequently used word. This experiment reveals a general agreement that integrity is important, but what exactly does it mean? People may understand it in very different ways.

The word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete.[3] In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.

Wikipedia, Definition of Integrity

Following this definition, integrity is the alignment of our thoughts, actions and words with our personal values.  The tricky thing about integrity in organizations is that integrity is partly internal (what we think) and partly external (what we say and do).

When we demonstrate integrity, what we think, say and do are all aligned. But aligned with what?

I think that something that many organizations include in the concept of “integrity” is good moral character. People with good character would be morally aware and ethically competent. This leads me to ask some important questions:

Do your leaders know which values you want them to act on when they “Use the highest integrity in all that they do?”

Do they know what those values look like?

Do they know how to honor them while balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders?

Without clarity about the ethical values we should honor in our work, integrity is individually interpreted, based on the personal values of each leader. To help them lead ethically at a high level, though, we need to answer a deeper question  – “Which ethical values should we uphold in what we think, say and do?”

Are your leaders crystal clear about which ethical values are most important to your organization?

If your leaders are all perfectly clear about which high level ethical values to uphold and how to demonstrate them, you are probably incorporating complexity into your leadership development. You are also probably providing leaders with the level of detail about ethical values that they need to navigate through information overload, constant change and demands from multiple stakeholders. If not, you may be rolling the dice by taking an “I’ll know it when I see it” approach to ethics.

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 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 

 

3 Factors That Numb Ethics Efforts (And 3 That Energize Them)

2013-08-06 18.38.33

By Linda Fisher Thornton

To build a strong ethical culture, leaders should take a positive, preventive approach to ethics. That would include communicating clear ethical values and expectations and quickly stopping any unethical behavior. But those things are not enough by themselves. There are cultural factors that either enable our prevention efforts or disable them. Understanding these factors helps us build an ethical culture. Here are three enabling factors (that support proactive ethics) and three numbing factors (that disable our proactive ethics efforts).

Numbing Factors

Numbing factors act as an ethical dampening field, disabling the natural systems that would prevent and identify ethical risks. The presence of any of these factors numbs people to proactive ethics, and makes it harder for people to want to protect the organization’s ethical reputation.

NUMBING FACTORS 

Ethical Incompetence 

Lack of Trust

Fear (Often Generated By Leaders Using Negative Interpersonal Behaviors)

Enabling Factors

Enabling factors act as ethical boosters, fueling the natural systems that prevent  and identify ethical risks. The presence of any of them boosts the organization toward proactive ethics, and makes it easier to prevent ethical problems from happening.

ENABLING FACTORS 

Proactive Values-Based Leadership

Trust-Building (Including Showing Respect and Care)

“Safe Space” to Talk About Ethical Issues

Which Way is Your Organization Headed?

By cultivating enabling factors, you are setting the stage for the team to work together, actively protecting the organization’s ethics. If you have numbing factors within your organization, be aware that the dampening field that they create will reduce the effectiveness of your positive ethics efforts. 

“Ethical culture” is a complex system. To support the health of the system, maximize enabling factors and eliminate numbing factors.

 

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 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 

Focusing on Profits? Watch Out For the “Blinder” Effect

By Linda Fisher Thornton

We need money to exchange goods and services, pay bills and grow our businesses. So what’s the problem with it? The problem is that profitability cannot become our defining business goal, and it cannot replace values as the central beacon of our decision-making.

Money has no inherent moral grounding. 

Since it has no inherent moral grounding, we can’t ever let money be the deciding factor in our decision-making. We have to balance the quest for dollars with strong ethical values.  It is this moral grounding that ensures that we will consider how our decisions benefit or harm others. Making profitability a singular goal leaves an organization stuck in self-serving mode.

In self-serving mode, anything that brings in dollars looks good.

A focus on money alone causes leaders to plod on, as if wearing blinders, ignoring unintended consequences and harm.

We can’t put money where morality should be.

Have you ever lived in a house constructed by a builder who saved fifty cents by using a cheaper part, and that “savings” interfered with your enjoyment of your home or cost you major repair problems? How do you feel about food companies that choose the cheapest ingredients without regard to the health impact of the products they sell? The self-serving pursuit of profit doesn’t work in today’s world. People expect much more.

Ethical leaders care for constituents (not just profits). 

Money lacks inherent meaning and ethical values. It is just a token of exchange. It is our responsibility to add the ethical values.

 

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 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 

5 Ways to Talk About Ethics (Without Being “Blah Blah Boring”)

20140822_085358

By Linda Fisher Thornton

We owe it to our employees to make ethics real. People learning ethics are often given “blah blah boring” material (and then expected to remember and apply it). I believe that this is not just a mistake, it’s a crime! Why? Because ethics is anything but boring. Ethics is really interesting stuff when you dive into its complexities.

Today I’m sharing 5 ways to talk about ethics without being “blah blah boring.” Feel free to use these as conversation starters with your teams, and let me know if they make your conversations more meaningful.

1. Ethics is human

Ethics is inherently human. It focuses on how broadly we consider our impact on others and honor their well-being. And “others” doesn’t just include our coworkers and customers. We have an ethical responsibility to many “others, ” even some who we may never meet.

How can we bring ethics to life in our conversations as a human responsibility – a responsibility to do good and avoid harm for an ever-broadening array of “others?”

2. Ethics is positive

Ethics is not just laws, regulations or ethics codes. Those are simply safety nets to keep us on the positive (and legal) side of ethics. Ethics is really about high level positive values like respect and care, service and sustainability.

How can we stop fixating on the safety nets, and start talking more about the positive values?

3. Ethics is multidimensional

There are hundreds of different terms used to describe ethics, and many angles from which to approach it. There’s personal ethics (integrity and character), interpersonal ethics (respect and care), environmental ethics (respect for life and sustainability) and societal ethics (supporting communities and the greater good). Add professional ethics (codes for each profession) and organizational ethical culture to the mix too.

How can we talk about the dimensions of what really matters in ethics instead of giving people oversimplified statements like “always do the right thing?”

4. Ethics is a system

Not only is ethics multidimensional, it’s also systemic. Building an ethical culture requires the alignment of many different aspects of ethics including expectations, communication and full accountability.

How can we help our leaders learn how to build an ethical high-trust culture where people can do their best work?

5. Ethics is a learning journey

Not only are we all human, striving to meet increasing ethics expectations as part of an organizational system, we’re also at different stages in our ethical development. We’re all learning. The very human challenges are for us to learn fast enough to keep up, and to aim high enough to act on values.

How can we bring ethics to life by talking about it as an ongoing learning journey toward positive values, rather than as a training event, a problem or a set of rules?

Boring ethics content will not get your organization where it needs to go. It may put people to sleep, or cause them to “check out” in future ethics conversations. Don’t settle for weak, oversimplified or vague messages as the scaffolding for your organization’s ethics. People need clear messages that are relevant and that help them deal with complexity. There’s too much at stake to rely on “blah blah boring.”

 

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 7 Lenses (foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey) 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 

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™ 

522

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 

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

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 

 
 

 

 

250th Blog Post: Beyond the Comfort Zone

250th Blog PostBy Linda Fisher Thornton

In the 200th Leading in Context Blog Post, I wrote about Learning at the Speed of Life. To celebrate the 250th post, I want to reflect on what it’s been like to work every day in the stretch beyond the comfort zone.

In the past year, I finished writing my first book 7 Lenses, editing and publishing it in paperback and three different digital formats (Kindle, iTunes and Nook). Many times during that period, I felt like I had ended up in the middle of nowhere without a map.

Embracing the Stretch

Although I knew where I wanted to end up, I had no idea how to get there. Have you felt that way as you took on new challenges? Here are some of the questions I wrestled with:

  • How do you know when a book is good enough and ready to be edited?
  • How do you choose a good book title?
  • What cover design will best catch people’s attention and convey the book’s message?
  • Which is the more responsible paper choice, recycled or sustainable forestry initiative?
  • How do you spread the word in responsible ways so people who can benefit from the book will find out about it?

I have “learned through” finding answers to hundreds of questions like these in the past year. To stay motivated, I posted this saying on the bulletin board beside my desk:

“Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone”    

Neale Donald Walsch

It reminded me that growth is good… Wouldn’t it be easy if growth happened without the need to stretch outside of our comfort zones? These song lyrics describe the simpler way we yearn for:

“Wake me up when it’s all over. When I’m older and I’m wiser.”

Song Lyrics, “Wake Me Up” by Avicii

If only it were that easy. 

The Good Stuff Doesn’t Happen on Autopilot

When we live and work on autopilot, we tend to “stick to the known,” repeating what we did last year that worked and making incremental progress.  This dooms us to only achieving what we have already imagined and set into motion. There’s so much more that we’re missing. While we’re waiting to be “older and wiser”, we miss big opportunities to learn right now.

Growth doesn’t happen by itself. It takes an effort.

Because growth can be uncomfortable, it is often tempting to stick to the known path, the usual way, the “regular things” we do. But when we do that, we get into a routine and may end up going through the day on autopilot.

Instead of being easy and comfortable, real growth requires stretching outside of our comfort zones, believing we can grow and accomplish more, and continually working to get better.

Pushing the Boundaries

Once we stretch into new capabilities, we have to keep practicing them until they become comfortable. In the process, we are expanding our comfort zone to make room for these new abilities.

When We Are Learning and Growing, Our Comfort Zone is Expanding

Instead of avoiding the stretch and getting through the day on pre-programmed autopilot, we have expanded our comfort zones to include new abilities and roles, and new possibilities.

As you read about my journey, reflect on how stretching outside of your comfort zone might be transformational for you.

What has taken me outside of my comfort zone in the past year? 

  • Finishing, editing and publishing an ethical leadership book (that recently won Bronze in the Axiom Business Book Awards!).
  • Author book signings.
  • Doing virtual booktalks, guest lectures, videos and keynotes based on 7 Lenses.
  • Keeping up with a growing and highly engaged global audience on social media.

This growth process has happened in waves, sometimes extremely difficult and other times exhilarating. That’s how growth is, like riding a roller coaster in the dark and not seeing the road ahead clearly. It’s exciting and unpredictable. I am grateful that pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone was easier with the help of a strategy coach who urged me on and asked me to continually reach higher.

When we embrace the roller coaster ride of growth, as unpredictable as it may be, we tap into our human potential and we grow into our better selves. We make a positive difference in our lives and the lives of others. 

What meaningful work have you been wanting to do? Go ahead – step outside the zone and enjoy the ride. That’s where your best work is waiting to be done.


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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 is Contagious

© 2014 Leading in Context LLCBy Linda Fisher Thornton

I must admit that I can’t take the credit for coming up with the catchy title of this post. A group of attendees at a recent keynote I delivered came up with it as a way to describe what they had learned. And it makes perfect sense.

Ethics is catching, and leaders set the tone for the ethics of the organization. What would happen if everyone in the organization followed our lead? Would the organization be more or less ethical?  What kind of ethics are people catching as they work in our organization?

10 Reasons Why Ethics is Contagious:

  1.  We are social creatures.
  2.  People tend to “follow the leader.”
  3.  If their leader is unethical, people may be less likely to report ethical problems.
  4.  In unethical cultures, people who speak up may be punished, which further entrenches the unethical culture.
  5.  When people fail to report ethical problems, the problems may increase and become standard practice.
  6.  In unethical cultures, people who do unethical things may be promoted or rewarded in other ways.
  7.  If their leader is ethical, people may be more likely to report ethical problems.
  8.  In a positive ethical culture, people who speak up may be rewarded, which further entrenches the ethical culture.
  9.  The choices we repeat and reward become the patterns of acceptable behavior in our culture. 
  10.  Whichever case of ethics is spreading in our organizations gains momentum over time. In unethical cultures, the momentum is toward compromising ethics. In ethical cultures, the momentum is toward acting based on ethical values.

Which direction are we leading the organization? Organizational ethics can easily can go either way. Since ethics is so contagious, we need to be sure that we help people catch a positive case of it.


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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 

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. 


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 

It’s Not About Us

By Linda Fisher Thornton 

You may have noticed that society’s expectations of us as leaders are continuing to increase. Consumers prefer to choose companies that genuinely care about their well-being. Employees want to work for companies that treat people well, do meaningful work and give back to the community. To survive in this new land where ethics is key to success, we must understand that it is not all about us.

Its Not About Us

In a human development sense, our understanding of leadership has essentially “grown up” and moved past personal ego and a self-centered view of things.

Leadership may have once been defined by eloquence, power, or charisma, but today’s successful leadership is defined by creating value for others.  In a human development sense, our understanding of leadership has essentially “grown up” and moved past personal ego and a self-centered view of things. It has progressed from being “all about us” to being about our long-term impact on others.

FROM  SELF-CENTERED VIEW             TO  OTHER-CENTERED VIEW  

FROM  DEMONSTRATING POWER      TO  CREATING SHARED VALUE

What does this less self-centered view of leadership look like in action? It looks like this in a typical day:

  • Talking with employees, customers and other stakeholders to learn their deepest needs
  • Treating everyone with respect
  • Asking how we can make things better for those we lead and serve
  • Being open to change, adapting quickly, and staying competent (because these things define how others experience our leadership)
  • Keeping ethics at the center of everything we do and every decision we make

We need to avoid thinking that it’s all about us. Today’s less self-absorbed leadership is all about proactively and ethically creating value for others.


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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 

                     

In Conversation About Ethics

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This week Realizing Leadership: Everyday Leaders Changing Our World published a cover story interview that I had with Laurie Wilhelm. We talked about what ethical leadership really means, how ethics and trust are related, and how leaders can learn to be more ethical from wherever they are. Here is a shortened excerpt from that interview. Click the cover to access the full article.

LW  “The world is changing and developing so once we figure out our ethics and where we want to take them, how often should we review what we think about ethics and how we’re managing them?

Realizing LeadershipLFT You can never talk about (ethics) enough. One of the things that is startling is when you think about how often we talk about profitability in organizations – “Did we make the quarterly numbers?”….. Are we talking about ethics as much or are we sending the message that profits are more important?… If we just harp on the money and not on the ethics and don’t balance the message, then it leads people to believe that if ethics and profits seem to conflict, they need to choose based on profits. This needs to be an almost constant dialogue to say “How are we going to balance our profit goals with all of these other ethical responsibilities?” and that’s where it really comes together.

Realizing Leadership,  Realizing Leadership in Conversation: Linda Fisher Thornton, Ethical Leadership, with Laurie Wilhelm, March 2014


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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 

How Do We Achieve Corporate Integrity?

Corporate IntegrityBy Linda Fisher Thornton

To achieve corporate integrity, we must do a number of things well. We need to have a clear message about what taking responsibility for ethics means to us; clear expectations for what it looks like in our organization day-to-day; and a congruent system for managing for ethical performance. 

There is a current ethics trend away from a “push” mentality when it comes to learning about ethics (making people do it) to a “pull” mentality (making it positive so that people will want to do it). Taking on a “pull mentality” involves creating a positive ethical environment, which includes:

  • Reaching beyond laws and regulations (they represent the punishment threshold, not ethical business)
  • Reaching for ethical values – respect, care, trust, doing good and avoiding harm

There are specific actions that we must take to develop a positive ethical culture where our ethics message and our day-to-day actions are clearly aligned. The 7 actions listed below are some of the most important ones to take on the journey to corporate integrity.

Companies With Corporate Integrity Develop:

  1. An ethical leader’s mindset.
  2. A multidimensional understanding of what ethical responsibility means in a global society.
  3. An ethics message that we keep current as times change.
  4. An awareness that profitability is not an ethical value and decisions about money must always be balanced with ethical values. 
  5. A well-informed leadership team that knows what leading ethically looks like in action.
  6. A quick response to problems, and full accountability for ethical behavior. 
  7. A consistent and integrated performance system that rewards ethical behavior.

 

 

 

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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 

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!


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 

 

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