Ethical Culture: The Business Case For Prevention

By Linda Fisher Thornton

After I published “Prevention or Cure: Your Choice” about reducing ethical risk and creating a positive culture a reader asked for more information about the business case for prevention. Here are some compelling reasons why the prevention approach is a better business decision than waiting for ethical problems and applying a “cure” after the organization is already in trouble.

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.

40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture (An Ethical To Do List)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Last week I blogged about 40 Ethical Culture Gaps to Avoid. This week, I’m sharing a ‘What To Do” list of 40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture. This list includes many ways to incorporate ethical values into daily organizational leadership.

Each one of these 40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture can improve an organization. Leaders paying attention to all of these factors will reap rewards that include improved employee engagement, better financial performance, increased productivity and job satisfaction, improved competitive position and more.

Use this “ethical to do list” to assess your culture. Put a check mark beside the positive ethical actions that you have observed in your organization. Any that you leave unchecked are opportunities for improvement.

40 Ethical Culture Gaps To Avoid

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leaders set the tone for how ethical values are applied. They mentor those they lead, and serve as positive role models. It is not enough, though. for them to talk about ethical values and model what they look like in action. They must also fiercely protect the ethics of their organizations. They are the caretakers of ethical culture.

7 Questions For Ethical Culture Building

By Linda Fisher Thornton

We create organizational culture through strategic choices and daily actions. If we imagine building our culture as creating an elaborate painting, what will we depict on the canvas? Will we work together to carefully paint a background theme of positive values, or will we just give everyone brushes and “see where it goes?”

5 Reasons Ethical Culture Doesn’t Just Happen

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Don’t assume that an ethical culture will just happen in your workplace. Even if you are a good leader, ethical culture is a delicate thing, requiring intentional positive leadership and daily tending. It requires more than good leadership, more than trust building, and more than good hiring.

Why does building an ethical culture require so much more than good leadership? Ethical culture is a system of systems, and just putting in good leadership, trust-building and good hiring doesn’t make it healthy.

How to Build an Ethical Culture

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Today I’m sharing hand-picked resources about how to build an ethical culture. The most recent one was just published this week by Government Executive magazine. They acknowledge complexity, and are based on performance improvement and ethical principles.

This collection provides practical advice for how to build high trust cultures and keep the ethics conversation alive. Use it to create workplaces where people thrive and where “ethical” is a way of life.

5 Ways CEOs Can Build an Ethical Culture

By Linda Fisher Thornton

CEOs are in a unique position to make ethics a priority through their everyday actions, but simply modeling ethics isn’t nearly enough. Here is a starting list of 5 actions CEOs can take that move organizations toward an ethical culture.

Ethical Leadership Interview on Culture Hacker Podcast

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I am delighted that Shane Green, author of Culture Hacker, invited me to be a guest on his podcast to talk about ethical leadership and culture.

Culture is what we make of it. As leaders, it’s our job to make it an engaging, ethical, high-trust environment where people can do the very best work of their lives. And while we’re doing that, the world is watching. 

Building an Ethical Leadership Culture (Webcast)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I was recently invited to co-present an ASTD Public Manager Webcast “Developing Ethical Leaders and an Ethical Government Brand” with John Umana. While the Webcast which aired on March 19, 2013 was customized for government HR and Training leaders, the content is applicable across industries.

Ethical Leadership Culture: The Case of the Dissenting Senior Leader

The Impact of the Unethical Senior Leader

Take the common case of many organizational leaders trying to create an ethical culture, with one or more of the Senior Leaders not bought in or even blocking their efforts. The distraction, fear and chaos created by an unethical Senior Leader can drain the company of engagement, creativity and productivity.

Is blocking a company’s efforts to create an ethical culture unethical? You bet. It can be the cause of company failure because of the negative systemic effects that it creates. The systemic effects created by even one Senior Leader leading unethically include loss of trust, loss of employee engagement, loss of customers, lowered productivity, increased complaints, failure of departments to work together, sabotage, blaming, etc…

Correct it Quickly

When a Senior Leader is operating against the best interests of the company and its stakeholders, the problem needs to be corrected by the other Senior Leaders as quickly as possible. How?

Values-Based Culture: The Nudge

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I was driving recently when the car beside me started to veer over into my lane. I was able to avoid an accident, but it made me think about what happens when employees start “crossing the line” in organizations. When someone becomes aware that another employee is doing something that goes against the company’s values, what happens then?

There are things leaders can do. Unlike the car example, the conditions needed to avoid a problem when an employee starts to cross the line are more complex. And the potential problems that can happen (if an employee crosses the line and does something unethical) are numerous. Under the right conditions, employees may nudge each other to stay in the lane, and a positive, high trust culture helps create those conditions.