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


By Linda Fisher Thornton

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

12 Gifts of Leadership

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

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


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


7 Lenses™ Workshops Engage Organizational Leaders in Learning:

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


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

 …Are we doing enough?


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



  1. Great list, Linda. May I add 3?
    Tell your colleagues:
    1. I believe in you .
    2. I trust you (your #7).
    3. I’ve got your back.
    These 3 pronouncements work magic.


  2. Dear Linda: A really great product for the end of the year. I might use this in our Ethics briefing. Happy Holidays. Warmest, Dennis Brining
    “We will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence”-Vince Lombardi


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