22 Quotes to Inspire Leaders in the New Year (Part 1)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Are your leaders prepared for the year ahead? Each day will bring new challenges, and to succeed within ethical boundaries, we will all need a clear picture of “good leadership.”

This series is an annual tradition and this year’s posts include 22 quotes (each linked to a post with leadership guidance) to inspire you to grow your leadership skills to be ready for whatever 2022 may bring. Part 1 includes the first 11.

11 Leadership Quotes For the New Year

What’s missing when leaders latch onto and share beliefs of convenience? Values. In contrast, ethical leaders know that it’s their job to keep ethical values at the center of their decisions and actions. Ethical leaders seek the truth, and communicate the truth, even when it isn’t convenient.

Ethical awareness isn’t a destination. It’s a moving target. We’ll have to intentionally stretch to meet it. That stretch helps bring out our ethical best, which is what our employees, partners, colleagues and customers deserve.

When we are tempted to choose our response to a situation based on power, convenience, money, blind loyalty, or consistency with our previous choices, we should carefully examine our thinking process and beliefs to be sure that we are not blind to the ethical issues involved.

With responsible leadership, people experience feelings of self-worth from being treated well, and feelings of usefulness from being able to make a valuable contribution to the team. In this kind of environment, people can best use their talents to forward the organization’s mission.

If we decide to put ethics before loyalty to those in positions of power, that will define our personal character in a positive way that will enhance our lives and careers. Agreeing to an unethical request may seem easier for the 5 minutes we’re dealing with it, but always remember that it will be much more difficult when the next request comes (and the next, and the next and the next…).

Leaders need to wade into understanding complexity from the broadest levels (the global marketplace) to issues closer to home (organizational complexity), so they can teach others how to navigate successfully while making ethical and appropriate choices.

Some people try leaning out of their comfort zone and become uncomfortable and think that they’re doing it wrong. The “uncomfortable” feeling we get (when we stretch and learn) is a sign of growth about to happen. If we retreat to safety, the growth won’t happen. We’ll be stuck in place. We talk about “leaning in” to our challenges and opportunities but accepting discomfort is really about being willing to “lean out” of our comfort zones. That’s where the innovation happens. That’s where we see connections and have ideas. That’s where we grow.

Don’t fall into the trap of overlooking ethics because you like a leader’s outcomes. Ethical leaders and organizations know that how those outcomes are reached is just as important as the outcomes themselves.

No amount of good pay and benefits can compensate for working in a fearful culture. Fearful people can’t give their best ethical performance, and even repeated organizational efforts to improve trust and build an ethical culture will fall flat in a fear-based environment.

The best time to think about our legacy is not when we’re near retirement, or when things slow down. It’s right now. It’s not just our noble accomplishments – It’s also the small positive things we do when we’re busy and don’t really have time to do them that define our legacy.” 

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.

As we approach 2022, make sure each leader in your organization is clear about your organization’s values and ready to apply them as they handle whatever comes their way.

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership


© 2009-2023 Leading in Context LLC

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