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.

 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.
 
 

 

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.

 

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.

About Linda Fisher Thornton          

As CEO of Leading in Context, Linda Fisher Thornton  helps forward-thinking leaders and organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.™ Linda’s book 7 Lenses (with a foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey) provides a clear multi-dimensional framework for leading ethically in  a global society.

LeadinginContext.com    Linda@LeadinginContext.com   @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

                     

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

About Linda Fisher Thornton         

As CEO of Leading in Context, Linda Fisher Thornton helps forward-thinking leaders and organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.™  Linda’s award-winning book 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership provides a clear framework for proactive ethical leadership (foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey).  See LeadinginContext.com/7Lenses for book details.

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.

About Linda Fisher Thornton        DSC_9672  As CEO of Leading in Context, Linda Fisher Thornton 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 provides a clear framework for proactive ethical leadership (foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey).  

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.

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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  

7 Lenses (via Leadership Excellence Essentials)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I am honored that my article “7 Lenses: Principles and Practices” was included on page 34 in the January issue of Leadership Excellence Essentials that features tributes to Mandela.  This issue also includes articles by Warren Bennis, Dave Ulrich, Tom Peters and many others talking about leadership, strategy and engagement. 

LE_JAN2014_Page_01

Download View New Interactive PDF

This issue of Leadership Excellence Essentials is is shared with you with the permission of the publisher, hr.com.

7 Lenses Book

About Linda Fisher Thornton        

DSC_9672

Linda’s book 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership provides a 

clear framework for leading ethically in a complex world (foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey).  As CEO of Leading in Context, Linda Fisher Thornton helps forward-thinking leaders and organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.™

Linda@LeadinginContext.com @leadingincontxt @7Lenses

Understanding (and Preventing) Ethical Leadership Failures

Ethical Failures

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Understanding What Causes Ethical Leadership Failures

Ethical leadership failures can be caused by different types of problems that may compound. Some of these problems are individual and others may be embedded in the organizational culture.

In 7 Lenses, I describe the kind of proactive ethical leadership that builds ethical cultures. The book is a road map for how to lead ethically in a complex world. While 7 Lenses is written from a positive perspective to help leaders avoid ethical problems and create ethical cultures, I often get asked “What causes ethical failures? What goes wrong?”

So this week I am exploring that question from two perspectives – that of what individual leaders do (or don’t do) and common organizational problems.

Individual and Organizational Causes

Here is a starter list of some of the factors that can lead to ethical failure. The list includes things that individual leaders do (or don’t do), and things that organizations do (or don’t do) to set a positive example and support ethical thinking and behavior.

These factors are connected, and it is often difficult to isolate just one of them when something goes wrong. See if you recognize any of these happening in your organization.

Individual

Ignoring  Boundaries (Ignoring Ethics Codes And Organizational Values That Forbid An Action)

Failing to Use Self-Control (“I Will Do This Even Though It’s Not Allowed”)

Entitlement View (“I Definitely Deserve This Even Though It’s Not Allowed”)

Prominent Personal Values (“I Think This Is Really Fine To Do Even Though It’s Not Allowed”)

Crowd Following (“Everybody Else is Doing It, So It Must Be Fine”)

Lack of Moral Compass (“Nobody Specifically Said That I Can’t Do It, So It Must Be Fine If I Do It”)

Organizational

Lack of Clarity (“What Does Ethical Mean Around Here?”)

No Ethical Leadership and Behavior Standards (“There Are No Rules About This”)

Oversimplified Rules (“Just Do the Right Thing”)

Lack of Positive Role Models (“Who Is Doing It the Right Way?”)

No Training or Coaching (“How Will I Learn It?”)

No Accountability, No Enforcement (“Nothing Bad Happens If I Do It, Even Though It’s Not Allowed”)

No Performance Integration (“We Say We Want Ethics, But We Reward and Promote Based on Sales and Output”)

When Problems Happen, Scapegoats Are Quickly Fired (Instead of Learning From Mistakes and Fixing the Culture)

Compounding Factors

Keep in mind that ethical failures may or may not be due to just one of these factors, but several that compound to create a ripple effect. Here are a few examples where the problem is worsened due to a combination of factors.

  • There are no ethical leadership standards and no positive role models (no way to be sure what to do)
  • A leader has an entitlement view and there is a lack of clarity about what ethical leadership means in the organization (it is easier to justify entitlement, when ethical expectations are unclear).
  • A leader lacks a moral compass and the organization lacks ethical leadership standards (the leader may act based on personal ethics, which may be slanted toward self-gain).
  • A leader has trouble with ethical boundaries and there is no accountability for ethical behavior in the organization (It increases the chances of ethical problems when both the leader and the organization lack clear ethical boundaries).

Problems within the ethical culture clearly make it harder for individual leaders to stay on an ethical path.

Preventing  (or Identifying and Correcting) These Problems in Your Organization

Now imagine what can happen when you have 3 or more of these factors (and perhaps others not named here) happening at the same time. Each additional factor can make it easier for problems to develop. Our goal as leaders is to prevent the problems that lead to a failure of ethical leadership. To do that we need to start talking about the dynamics that cause ethical problems and how to keep them from happening in our organizations.  How do we start the conversation? Talk candidly with leaders at all levels about issues named above that may have become a problem in your organization. For a detailed conversation guide, see Leading the Conversation About Ethical Leadership. For an understanding of how to manage ethical performance in the organization see Managing Ethical Leadership as a Performance System.

Feel free to name additional factors that you have observed that can lead to ethical failure in your comments. 

Thornton

7 Lenses Book

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

Linda@LeadinginContext.com @leadingincontxt @7Lenses

 

Wishing You Joy

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Joy tagxedo

Extending Joy to You This Holiday Season

Joy is not something we simply hope for or wait for. It’s something that we create through our everyday actions and relationships.

As we celebrate the Holidays and enter the New Year, I hope that you enjoy the timeless quotes about joy that follow. Notice how these reflections on joy tend to focus on gratitude, imagination, open-mindedness and service

Many thanks to all of you who have reached out this year to share ideas about leading ethically in a complex world.

Have a Joyful Holiday Season!

“Joy blooms where minds and hearts are open.”
― Jonathan Lockwood Huie

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”
― Marianne Williamson

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
― Rabindranath Tagore

“An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy.”
― Madeleine L’Engle

“Scatter joy!”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,the more joy you can contain.”                                                                              ― Kahlil Gibran

“A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. She gives most who gives with joy.”
― Mother TeresaIn the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

To imagine the future of ethical leadership, see the  “What Ethical Leaders Believe” Manifesto by Linda Fisher Thornton, 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. 

 

10 Ethical Leadership Questions For the New Year

10 Questions

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethical leadership is evolving, and expectations are increasing. Will we be ready? As we go into the New Year, here are some questions to ponder:

1. What does “ethical” mean to me?

2. Would someone observing my leadership know that I intend to be an ethical leader?

3. If so, how would they know? If not, what could I do differently so that they would know?

4. How broadly am I considering what happens to my constituents?

5. Where could I be more proactive and intentional about my ethics?

6. How carefully am I managing my ethical competence?

7. How consistently do I show respect when my views don’t align with someone else’s views?

8.  How well do I seek solutions that are mutually beneficial, not just self-serving?

9.  How well do I model the highest ethical values so that others can learn from me?

10. How am I using my leadership and service to make a positive difference?

In the New Year, let’s be intentional about our learning journey, and seek ways to improve in all of these aspects of our leadership. If you’re feeling especially open to learning, ask your team to help you answer these questions about yourself. The insights you gain could be amazing.

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 is 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership


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

The 7 Lenses Story – A Closer Look Radio Interview

By Linda Fisher Thornton

ThorntonI am honored to have had the opportunity to do a radio interview last week with Pam Atherton of A Closer Look Radio. She invited me to talk with her about my new book 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership. In the interview she asked questions that many of you may have about ethical leadership, and I walked listeners through the book’s framework for leading ethically in a complex world (click below to listen).

Ethics in business – The 7 Lenses of ethical responsibility

with Linda Fisher Thornton

7 Lenses

It has been wonderful to hear from so many of you in the past week about how 7 Lenses is helping you, and your plans to use it for leader learning in your organizations.

7 Lenses clarifies what it means to lead ethically in the fullest sense of what that means in a complex world. I am enjoying receiving many unsolicited comments from readers. Here are some of my favorites - “It’s about time!” “I wish I’d had this book years ago…” If you haven’t read it yet, it is available at Amazon.com and 800-ceo-read, with digital versions for Kindle, iPad and Nook available soon. 

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 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership is a clear framework for leading ethically in a complex world (Foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey). In addition to her role as CEO of Leading in Context LLC, a leadership development consultancy, she also teaches as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies. 

What Ethical Leaders Believe

By Linda Fisher Thornton

ChangeThis.com is an 800ceoread project for “spreading good ideas and changing business thinking for the better.” I am honored that today they published my Manifesto about what ethical leaders believe. This Manifesto begins with an Aristotle quote “We are what we repeatedly do” and then asks us to think hard about what we repeatedly do. “Is our thinking on autopilot?” “Is that autopilot programmed to make ethical decisions?”

“What Ethical Leaders Believe: The Leading in Context Manifesto”

111.04.7LensesChangeThisCover

Our daily choices define us. Please help spread this important message by sharing “What Ethical Leaders Believe.”
© 2013 Leading in Context LLC
7 LensesAbout 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 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership is a clear framework for leading ethically in a complex world (Foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey). In addition to her role as CEO of Leading in Context LLC, a leadership development consultancy, she also teaches as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies. 

What is Ethical Leadership?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

What is ethical leadership? I have been exploring that question on the Leading in Context Blog for the last four years. This week, I’ve chosen some highlights from popular posts to illustrate what leading in a complex world requires of each of us.

Leading ethically in a global society requires much more than following laws and regulations. We must take on a global mindset, maintain an openness to learning, actively build trust, and so much more.

We must move away from a compliance mindset, and reach for a values-based mindset that considers much more (see the highest level on this three-level graphic).

Which of These is Ethical Leadership

Expectations Beyond Compliance and Laws

“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.”       

Linda Fisher Thornton, Which of These is Ethical Leadership?

Openness to Learning

“When we are not open to learning, we can easily misinterpret another perspective that does not match our own as a threat. That perspective that we are actively arguing against may in fact reflect a more current, more advanced, or more ethical perspective than ours. Failing to acknowledge that there are other perspectives on an issue (and that the people who hold them have a right to their views as much as we do) shows a lack of respect, and a lack of awareness…”

Linda Fisher Thornton, Civility and Openness to Learning

Inclusion

“Managing diversity without inclusion as the ultimate goal can make a big difference in the way employees experience our organization. We choose a way of thinking that represents what we’re trying to do and then build a process/program/structure or measurement based on that foundation. If diversity is our way of thinking, we may get an approach based on “differences,” rather than one based on creating an inclusive culture where a diverse group of people can do their best work.”

Linda Fisher Thornton, Differences or Inclusion: Which Are We Focusing On?

Service and Care

“One of the elements of ethical leadership that may be overlooked when we view ethics using a “legal lens” is supporting and developing the potential of the people we lead. While many leadership ethics programs focus on the risk side of ethics – compliance with laws and regulations, avoiding lawsuits, etc., there is an equally important side of ethics that involves care.” Linda Fisher Thornton, Ethical Leaders Care

A High Trust Environment

“On the surface, it doesn’t seem that curiosity and imagination are related to ethics. But think about what would happen in an environment where people were not able to use them. Could employees still be relied on to consistently behave ethically in an environment where they were not engaged in their work, and where they did not feel respected or fairly treated?”

Linda FIsher Thornton, Curiosity and Imagination Necessary Ingredients in Ethical Business

A Global Mindset

“When we see the world as a global society, we see that we need to act as if what happens to others, even people we may never meet, matters. We all share space, food and natural resources. We also share international communication and transportation systems and a global economy. Thinking about our planet as home to a global society, it is clear that we must act as if what happens to the environment matters. Our survival is dependent on the limited resources we have available and how responsibly we use them.” 

Linda Fisher Thornton, Ethical Leadership and… a Global Society

Honoring Human Rights

“As leaders, we are expected to protect human rights in all that we do. In our quest to lead responsibly, we must continually consider the question “How do we need to change in order to better honor human rights?” If you are in the process of developing a corporate human rights policy, A Guide for Business: How to Develop a Human Rights Policy (UN Human Rights, Global Compact) is helpful in beginning the discussion.”

Linda Fisher Thornton, Honoring Human Rights is Essential

Staying ready to lead ethically in a globally networked world will require continual learning and a broad understanding of what ethical responsibility includes. Let’s get started…

About Linda Fisher Thornton Linda Fisher Thornton is the author of  7 Lenses, a guide for learning how to bring out the best in people, organizations and communities through ethical leadership (available for pre-order on Amazon.com, due out November 7th). Linda was named to the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America. As CEO of Leading in Context, she helps organizations learn to Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.™ For more information, visit leadingincontext.com. 

Leadership Responsibility: The Movement

LeadResponsMovement

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Taking Responsibility is “In”

We have reached a point in business where proactively taking responsibility as leaders has become a movement in its own right. We use many different words to talk about our leadership responsibilities.

Corporate Social Responsibility        Trust Building

          Sustainability             Character          Integrity

     Care                        Profitability                 Community Service      

Greater Good                  Ethical leadership        Compliance   

       Boundaries                 Impact                        Avoiding Harm

Leadership responsibility is multidimensional, and cannot be described in one or two words. It is personal, interpersonal, environmental and societal. Fortunately, that level of complexity is not stopping  leaders and organizations from taking the lead in demonstrating what it means to take responsibility in leadership. These articles describe the powerful movement toward proactively taking a high level of responsibility for our choices and our impact:

Understanding Our Impact

Our understanding of the purpose of leadership has evolved to include responsibility for a broad array of stakeholders over the long term. We have moved way beyond the command-and-control model. We now understand that our role includes bringing out the best in others and helping them achieve their potential while we all work toward the organization’s goals.

“Leaders of the future unleash human potential by instilling trust through authenticity, clarity of purpose and openness to continual learning. “

–Giles Hutchins, Leadership for the future: diversity, creativity and co-creation, thegaurdian.com

We now are beginning to see the powerful impact that responsible leadership has on organizational performance, employee engagement and other important metrics. In the process of creating responsible organizations, we also help employees find meaning in their work.

“Values-led leaders help create emotionally and mentally healthy organisations, where business goals are met without sacrificing personal values.”

Corporate Social Responsibility: How the Movement Has Evolved Since the 1990′s by Paul Monaghan

We understand the importance of leading for the long-term and taking responsibility for our impact on others, the environment and society.

“If capitalism is to remain a healthy, vibrant economic system, corporations must participate in taking care of the society and the environment in which they live.”

Simon Mainwaring

Learning For Life

It is becoming increasingly clear that responsibility is not optional in a global society – it is at the heart of our leadership when we lead well.  Leadership development has become a critical priority as executives acknowledge the increasing complexity of leading in a global society. Leaders need help learning through this maze of terminology and leadership expectations.

This is an ongoing quest for leaders and for students preparing to be our future leaders. As Thomas Paine said, “When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.”

¤

About Leading in Context and Linda Fisher Thornton

In 2013, Leading in Context CEO Linda Fisher Thornton 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 is due out in early November. 

 

Making a Difference in the World

Making a DifferenceBy Linda Fisher Thornton

One Person Can Make A Difference

I believe that there is much more to leadership than going through the daily tasks and assignments on our to-do lists. In my Manifesto about ethical leadership, this is how I defined the importance of leaders making a positive difference:

“We make a difference in the world. We realize that the planet, our communities, and the long-term good of world are also our constituents. We know that our role is to think and act in ways that honor our planet, our communities and our world. We do good without doing harm.”

The Leading in Context® Manifesto

There is More to Leadership

There is much more to leadership than just being at the front of the room during a meeting, or working with the team to make the big decisions. I find that the most rewarding part of leadership is making a difference – in people’s lives, in the community, or in the world. While making a difference may seem like a lofty goal, consider these examples of how much difference one person on a mission can make:

How ‘Difference Makers Think’ — The Single Greatest Secret to Personal and Business Success, David Sturt, Forbes.com

How to Change the World, John-Paul Flintoff, in Utne Reader

I can think of several leaders who changed the course of my life through their support, example and teaching. Today, in your daily leadership, choose to be that kind of leader – the kind who makes a lasting difference.

About Linda Fisher Thornton

In 2013, Linda 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 is due out this fall.

Leading in Context provides clear tools for businesses of all sizes for implementing “ethical leadership future.”   For more information, visit leadingincontext.com.

 

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