The Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making (Part 6)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This series has explored 5 important spheres of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making. 

This week I’m summing it up in a checklist that will help you apply all 5 to your daily choices. When you are making a key decision, run it through the checklist to be sure you have considered all 5 important dimensions. 

The Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making (Part 4)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Who we include in our ethical thinking, and how broadly we consider our responsibility to others are important elements of ethical leadership. In Part 1 of this series, I explored the Depth of our thinking, and in Part 2, I broke down issues related to understanding Context. In Part 3, I looked at Complexity. In Part 4, we’ll dig into the importance of Inclusion.

The Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making (Part 3)

Embracing Complexity is Part of Leadership

Complexity has become a way of life. To make ethical decisions, we must embrace it and incorporate it into our thinking process. That means digging in to issues until we understand their multiple dimensions, connections and contradictions. It means being intentional about decision making and avoiding making snap judgments.

The Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making (Part 2)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

In Part 1 of this series I looked at the importance of Deep Thinking. In Part 2, we’ll be considering the Context. No matter how much effort it takes to understand the context (whether we like it or not) we can’t expect to make an ethical decision without it. 

Understanding the Context

Without seeing the context – a broad and sweeping view of the issues we are discussing or trying to resolve – we are describing or trying to solve a SUBSET of the real issue. To use ethical thinking and decision-making, we must always remind ourselves that the SUBSET is not the whole. 

The Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making (Part 1)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

When Thinking is Starved For Context and Complexity

Think about how easy it is to start using shallow breathing without being aware that we’re doing it. This can happen when we’re stressed or anxious, and it can impact our well-being. We may be unaware that we are using shallow breathing until someone notices we’re turning pale and tells us to BREATHE.

When we use shallow thinking, that similarly impacts the “well-being” of our decision making, leading us to false conclusions and ethically problematic decisions. It’s almost as if when we use shallow thinking, our decision making is getting less oxygen. We can medically treat people who are having trouble breathing. But what do we do about thinking that is starved for context and complexity?

How Do You Make Better Decisions?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

How do you make decisions? Do you consider a series of important questions? Do you find out the needs of the people involved? Do you consult a diverse group of advisors? Or do you just wing it? Some of the ways we may be tempted to think through our challenges (how to stay within budget or how to be most profitable, for example) leave ethical values out of the equation.

Ethical thinking helps us make good leadership decisions. When we use intentional ethical thinking, we make decisions based on ethical values. Using ethical thinking doesn’t just help us do the right thing. It also helps us resolve our most difficult leadership problems by broadening our awareness.

Every Decision Changes The Ethical Culture Equation

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethics has a compounding effect on culture, and our leadership choices determine whether that effect will be positive or negative. Being diligent about ethics in every decision brings the culture ethics dividends. Being careless about ethics brings ethics penalties.

The tricky part about managing ethical culture is that every leader decision and action throughout the organization is changing the equation. The “ethical culture equation” is changing in real time, every day.

Making Decisions Like Global Citizens

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Character is important, but leading ethically in the fullest sense requires much more than just demonstrate good character. In this 2 minute video, I describe 7 different perspectives that you may be hearing around the table as you discuss ethical dilemmas in your organization. Instead of being competing perspectives, each one is an important element of the full picture of what it means to lead ethically in a global society.

When is a Decision an Ethical One?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

As we think about our decisions, which ones do we recognize as “ethical?” Complying with laws and ethics codes clearly has ethical implications. But what about these decisions?

3 Insights For the Class of 2022

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I have a special message for our 2022 graduates. The pandemic risk may be lower than it was at this time last year, but sorting out the way forward as a new graduate is still going to be a challenge.

How can you gain a clear focus on your future to move ahead?

The Danger of Us Versus Them

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Any time you draw a line that excludes, you’re leaving ethical territory. That’s a bold statement, but when someone draws a dividing line that intentionally excludes people or groups, it can lead to an “us versus them” mentality. And from there, it’s a short slippery slope to this and more…

How Do You Recognize An Ethical Leader (Part 3)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

n 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.

How Do You Recognize an Ethical Leader? (Part 1)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

How do you recognize an Ethical Leader? Today I’ll share 3 special approaches to the leadership role that are central to ethical leadership. These are ways that ethical leaders understand their roles and responsibilities in relation to others and world.