700th Leading in Context Blog Post: What If?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

In my 600th post, I wrote about my top 10 Leadership Lessons Learned over the years. In this 700th post, I want to take a moment to dream and imagine what life could be like if all leaders took the time to learn ethical thinking, decision making and leadership, and applied them every day.

How would the world be different if everyone were leading based on ethical values? What would happen? What would stop happening? What kind of world would we be living in? Take this journey with me as I explore the wonderful question “What if…?”

What if every school taught every student how to be an ethical person, citizen and leader?

  • Students would understand the boundaries of ethical behavior before they crossed them or made life-altering mistakes, since ethical boundaries would be taught.
  • Jails might not be so overloaded with people who crossed ethical boundaries and made life-altering mistakes.
  • It would be easier to identify and easier to collectively stop unethical behavior when it happened.
  • There would be less school violence, less fear about school violence, and less time spent preventing and dealing with school violence.

What if every leader knew what high level ethical behavior looked like?

  • Leaders that wanted to do the right thing could more easily emulate ethical behavior since they would have ethical role models to follow.
  • Leaders who made decisions based on greed, self-interest, and power could be more quickly identified, coached and trained, or removed from positions of leadership if they would not change.
  • Leaders would know how to talk about ethical behavior calmly in a non-confrontational way.
  • There would be less violence in the news headlines, and no personal attacks or false statements allowed in election ads or debates for public office.

What if we collectively held leaders accountable for ethical behavior?

  • We would select public leaders to vote for based on their ethical track record, not their rhetoric. We would choose the most ethically electable candidate.
  • We would embrace ethical profitability. We would hire and promote organizational leaders based on their ability to bring out the best in others and make ethical decisions in addition to how profitable they were.
  • We would choose, promote and reward teachers and professors who understood and modeled ethical behavior.
  • We would call out unethical behavior quickly before it got out of hand, and ask for the kind of behavior we expect.
  • We would feel safer and more secure, and be able to contribute our talents more freely in our positive communities and workspaces.

What if everyone were leading based on ethical values? What kind of world would we be living in? It would be a kinder, safer, world where we would want to work and make a difference and raise our children, where attention would be paid in the media to GOOD choices instead of primarily ethical failures, and where no corrupt leader would last very long in power because everyone would know better and demand better.

I believe that these future states are not just dreams, they are moral imperatives that we must act on together as a society. The focus of my career is helping move these goals inch by inch, leader by leader, from a dream state to a reality. Are you in?

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership


© 2009 – 2023 Leading in Context LLC

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