How Do You Recognize An Ethical Leader (Part 3)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

In How Do You Recognize an Ethical Leader Part 1 and Part 2, I shared 6 special qualities, behaviors and outcomes that define ethical leadership. This week I’ll share three more. These are intentional actions ethical leaders take to stay competent as things change around them.

Ethical Leaders ADAPT

  • Treating learning an every day goal, not a set of scheduled events
  • Treating change as an essential element of staying relevant and ethically aware
  • Scanning trends and doing constant research, using credible sources, to stay adaptive


  • Accepting paradoxes and seeking to understand them as part of good leadership
  • Deals with highly complex challenges with multiple variables without getting thrown off an ethical track
  • Seeing through many ethical lenses (and meeting the needs of multiple stakeholders) when making decisions

Ethical Leaders GROW

  • Treating the leader’s comfort zone as something that should be stretched, not a boundary
  • Staying open to learning from others, even when opposed to their opinions and choices
  • Showing growth in maturity and moral awareness over time

Ethical leaders know they need to adapt and they are willing to do the work to stay firmly grounded in ethical values while adapting as times change. Throughout this three-part series I have shared 9 qualities that help identify a leader who is making it a priority to stay ethically aware and make ethical choices. Take a moment to reflect on this question – Do you recognize all 9 in yourself?

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership  

© 2009-2023 Leading in Context LLC

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