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 both 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 embracing Complexity. In Part 4, we’ll dig into the importance of Inclusion.

Why is Inclusion Important?

It is easy to exclude. Our brains are wired to keep us safe, and we typically prefer to be with people in our own trusted groups. If we don’t manage our thinking and perceptions, and our reactions to people and situations, we may (intentionally or unintentionally) make decisions that harm others who are not like us.

“A brain structure called the amygdala is the seat of classical fear conditioning and emotion in the brain. Psychological research has consistently supported the role of fear in prejudiced behavior.”

Naomi Schalit, Humans are wired for prejudice but that doesn’t have to be the end of the story in The Conversation

What Does It Require?

Full inclusion requires that we extend our respect, our care and our concern to all people. It means making responsible choices about what happens to people inside our trusted groups and well beyond them. Applying full inclusion, we see that everyone is within our purvue, everyone demands our consideration, and everyone deserves to be treated well. Treating everyone well means going beyond the superficial level, and beyond token gestures of concern, to offer the same high level of care and concern that we extend to our trusted groups.

Who Do We Engage and Listen To?

Inclusion requires treating people with respect and care, but it also includes engaging in dialogue with people outside of our usual circles, finding out what really matters to them and what they need. If we don’t, we’re just guessing at what they need and our solutions may do more harm than good.

What Ethical Thinkers and Leaders Don’t Do

  • Treat people outside their trusted groups with a lower level of respect and care
  • Think of certain groups as “in” or “out” of their favor
  • Fall into the trap of deciding what groups of people need without involving them
  • Use divisive language that incites discriminatory or harmful behavior from others

What Ethical Thinkers and Leaders Do

  • Ethical thinkers and leaders know that diversity is part of the leadership sphere and they embrace full inclusion
  • They build inclusive teams
  • They include diverse voices in important  conversations  and honor the needs and perspectives of all constituents
  • They understand that diversity is an asset and inclusion is a leadership responsibility

When we ignore the importance of inclusion, we may play favorites or treat certain groups disrespectfully, calling attention to our lack of ethical competence. By embracing inclusion, we stay on the path to ethical solutions that work for all, fulfilling our responsibility as ethical leaders in a global society.

Stay tuned for Part 5! 

 

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

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethical Thinking and Decision Making require staying grounded in ethical values, but there is much more to do than knowing our values and living them every day through our choices. 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, let’s take a look at Complexity.

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 processes. That means digging into issues until we understand their multiple dimensions, connections, and contradictions. It means being intentional about decision making and avoiding making snap judgments.

Leaders who develop a high level of thinking complexity will be better able to help our organizations understand and work through a wide variety of challenges, problems, and opportunities. They will make sense of issues and problems that are multidimensional and connected. And they will be prepared to do what all great leaders do – help those they lead deal with increasing complexity.

         — Linda Fisher Thornton, Dealing With Complexity in Leadership 

What Ethical Thinkers and Leaders Don’t Do

  • Use oversimplified approaches to understanding complex issues
  • Ignore the complexity of an issue because “it’s too hard to figure out.”
  • Fall into the trap of only noticing data that conveniently backs up their current beliefs

What Ethical Thinkers and Leaders Do

  • Ethical thinkers and leaders know that complexity is part of the leadership sphere and they embrace it 
  • They look for, notice, and talk about complexity
  • They work to find clear and compelling ways to communicate complex issues so that others can understand them

When we ignore complexity, many around us can easily see that we are not operating in reality. They can see that we’re not taking informed action and not solving problems in responsible ways. By embracing complexity, we stay on the path that leads to ethical solutions that work in the real world.

Stay tuned for Part 4 in this series! 

Dealing With Complexity? Use Ethical Thinking

 

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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 consider the Context. No matter how much effort it takes to understand the context, we can’t expect to make an ethical decision without taking that step.

Understanding the Context

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

If you drive a sports car on a crowded city street with your eyes closed, people are going to get hurt (including you). Making decisions without understanding the context is similarly risky. 

A clear understanding of the context is an important part of staying ethically aware and competent, and both are necessary qualities for responsible leadership. Ethical leaders know that there can be no ethical awareness without understanding the context, and without awareness, competence and responsibility are also out of reach.

    — Linda Fisher Thornton, Ethical Leaders Understand the Context, Leading in Context Blog 

It’s easy to find one or two pieces of information about an issue and think we understand it. In Context Matters: What We’re Learning About Food I explored what happens when we think about nutrition by looking at individual nutrients without considering the context. That example drives home the point because most of us have probably gone through life thinking about nutrition as a collection of individual nutrients.

“Applying the ‘food matrix’ concept we learn that we can’t accurately assess nutritional impact based on breaking down individual nutrients in isolation from the whole. We have to consider what we added and what we left out. In other words, context matters.”

Linda Fisher Thornton, Context Matters: What We’re Learning About Food, Leading in Context Blog

Understanding the context helps us make choices that “work” ethically in the particular setting and it prepares us to adapt to a changing world.  What is ethical in one context may not be in another.

Context Helps us See the Bigger Meaning 

Some people may feel that it’s wrong to hold someone accountable now for an ethical violation when the same action was not punished in the past. Considering the context helps us see that this change is not a result of “inconsistent” treatment, but of increasing expectations and accountability for ethical behavior.

“Full accountability – holding people accountable for ethical problems that were previously overlooked – may appear on the surface to be inconsistent and unfair. But when you take a closer look at the trends, you will discover an important reason why people are more frequently being held fully accountable. It is because ethical expectations are increasing and expanding.”

Linda Fisher Thornton, Full Accountability for Ethics: The New Normal, Leading in Context Blog

Context is an important element in ethical decision making. 

What Ethical Thinkers and Leaders Don’t Do

  • Assume they already know the context
  • Ignore new research or the informed opinions of others outside of their groups
  • “Save time” by ignoring the context so they can make a quick and decisive decision

What Ethical Thinkers and Leaders Do

  • Ethical thinkers and leaders take time to understand the context
  • They look outside of their own groups to see what others are learning about the issue
  • They carefully consider the context before making decisions or taking action
  • They adjust their thinking as new credible information emerges

Leaders who ignore the context frustrate those they lead and serve. Why? Ignoring the context and making a quick decision often leads to costly and time-consuming fixes later. The fallout from decisions made in a vacuum can be severe and leaders can miss critical ethical issues. Taking the time to understand the context, we more easily make decisions that fall within the ethical zone. 

Watch for Part 3, when I’ll explore the importance of embracing complexity

 

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

 

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Welcome to Part 1 in “The Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making.” Ethical decision-making is not simply a task. It is the process of analyzing and understanding multiple connected variables in a changing context AND applying ethical values to make responsible choices. It requires doing the work to understand issues clearly before making decisions or taking action. In each post in this series, I’ll explore one aspect of this complex, connected process. Today I’ll focus on the importance of deep thinking. 

Deep Thinking

Ethical thinking requires much more than just knowing and following our values. I’ve written about the trap of shallow thinking and how important it is to intentionally “wade into” the depth of issues to fully understand them.

Why is deep thinking so important? 

  • Complex issues involve connected systems which are undergoing constant change
  • Complex issues cross borders and boundaries
  • Complex issues can’t be understood from one or two perspectives

When we dig into issues and explore their depths, we gain insights that we would otherwise miss. Complex issues just can’t be deconstructed and understood using shallow thinking. The meaningful insights are only found below the surface.

Shallow Thinking and Shallow Breathing

What happens when our approach is too shallow? 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.

We can medically treat people who are having trouble breathing. But what do we do about thinking that is starved for depth, context and complexity?

When we use shallow thinking, that impacts the “well-being” of our decision making, leading to false conclusions and ethically problematic decisions. It’s almost as if when we use shallow thinking, our decision making is getting less oxygen. 

What Ethical Thinkers and Leaders Don’t Do

  • Survey issues at the shallow level and make bold statements without all the information
  • Attack the statements or decisions other people make without doing the deep thinking required to understand the complexity of the issues
  • Blame others for being “wrong” without trying to understand their perspective or the data that backs it up

What Ethical Thinkers and Leaders Do

  • Ethical thinkers and leaders do the deep thinking
  • They ask for input and listen to what other people see and believe
  • They wade into the depths of issues to understand them clearly before they make decisions
  • They struggle through a tangled web of complex information to find the truth

In the airline safety briefing before a flight, we are told to “put on our own oxygen mask first, then assist other passengers.” Similarly, we need to do our own deep thinking before we direct others. When we do the deep thinking, we set the tone for those we lead to do the same. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 in the “Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making” Series!

 

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5 Parenting Traps That Harm

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Parenting is complicated and muddling through it without learning best practices can have negative consequences. Here are some things many parents do without realizing they may be contributing to the very problems they are trying to prevent.

1. Control (At the Wrong Stage of Development)

Controlling parenting (for example micromanaging a teen’s life and relationships) can move teens away from “under control” behavior and toward behavior problems.

“Positive parental control in early and mid-childhood is important for preventing late disruptive behaviour. However, in adolescence, monitoring – and not control – is most closely associated with positive behavioural adjustment.”   

O’Conner and Scott, Parenting Outcomes For Children, Joseph Rountree Foundation

It is critical to keep children safe when they’re young, but just as critical as they get older to step back and give them the space to become capable young adults who can manage themselves.

“In a recent meta-analysis of more than 1400 published studies, Martin Pinquart found that harsh control and psychological control were actually the biggest predictors of worsening behavior problems over time (Pinquart 2017).” 

Gwen Dewawr, Ph.D., Authoritarian Parenting: What Happened To the Kids? ParentingScience.com

Parents who find themselves wanting to control their teens’ behavior (which probably includes all parents at some point in time) can learn about child growth and development, and how controlling parenting can lead to problems. They can find ways to manage their own stress and seek parenting support.

2. Failing to Give Responsibility 

It is easy to become frustrated when we need to make repeated requests. We may fall into the trap of thinking that it’s easier to do things ourselves than to follow up with our children until they do them. The problem with that is that they will not learn how to take responsibility if we don’t give them responsibilities.

“Instilling the attitudes and traits that make children responsible occurs over years and involves many different pieces that make up the parenting puzzle.” 

RESPONSIBILITY AND CHORES: PART I – THE BIG PICTURE: TEACHING RESPONSIBILITY TO YOUR CHILDREN, The Center For Parenting Education

Too much homework and too many outside activities can be an easy justification for not having children help around the house — “My teen has too much homework and plays sports and doesn’t have time to do chores.” Teens don’t automatically know how to manage multiple responsibilities. How will they learn how to limit the activities they commit to and manage their time to get both their homework and chores done if they don’t get to practice?

3. Perfectionism (High Expectations Without High Support)

There is no perfect child, although it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that “if we could just get them to do x and stop doing y they would be perfect.” When parents fall into this trap, they may hover, do too much for their children or become overly demanding or controlling (see #1 above).

“At any one time, on average, school-age children have about five or six traits or behaviors that their parents find difficult. These might include not complying with simple requests, avoiding chores, spending too much time watching TV or playing videos, engaging in sibling rivalry or having difficulty completing homework.” 

A “Perfect” Parent, American Academy of Pediatrics

When we understand that parenting is a process with the independence of the child is the ultimate goal, it helps us weather the inevitable challenges along the way. Remembering that each child is different and there is no “perfect” child or “perfect” parent, we can better navigate the normal ups and downs of parenting.

4. Failing to Set an Ethical Example

We can be supportive, loving parents but if we don’t set a positive ethical example, we won’t be developing them in ways that help them become ethical adults.

“The good news is that by behaving in a positive way, your children are likely to do the same. The bad news is that the power of modeling puts pressure on you to act as you want your children to act.”

RESPONSIBILITY AND CHORES: PART II – TIPS FOR TEACHING RESPONSIBILITY, The Center For Parenting Education

If we tell a new driver that it’s okay to ignore the law that says they can only drive 1 other non-family young person, what other laws will they decide to ignore? Parents are the role models that define what ethical behavior means and how it is applied (or not) in daily life.

5. Using Labels Instead of Teaching and Guiding

Labels last a long time in a child’s psyche and can harm self-esteem and contribute to behavioral problems. Child development is cyclical and behavior is not always consistent.

“Labels that focus on the difficulties a child is having do so at the expense of recognising their capabilities and strengths in other areas.”

Vicky Plows,  Labelling kids: the good, the bad and the ADHD, The Conversation

Parenting frustration and anger is natural – managing it when it happens is one of the greatest responsibilities of parenting. If we use a negative label we are telling them that’s who they are and labels tend to stick. There is no labeling in teaching and guiding. We need to be careful that we describe the negative behavior and let the child know that it is not who they are – the behavior does not define them. 

“In the heat of the moment, you may not even be aware of what is annoying you. Getting to those underlying feelings and the reasons behind them can make a huge difference.”

ANGER AND VIOLENCE: PARENTS ANGER: TURNING DOWN THE HEAT IN YOUR HOME, The Center For Parenting Education

Instead of labeling based on their mistakes, we can let them know we expect better from them. We can describe why what they did was negative, and tell them we know they are capable of doing better next time. 

Be Willing To Learn

Every stage in a child’s life brings new challenges, and the child should not be the only one learning. Helping a child learn to walk does not prepare you for helping a teen learn to drive. The support needed is vastly different. Learn how to support healthy child growth and development.Parents who spend zero time learning about good parenting may not realize that their parent behaviors are harming instead of helping. 

Helping Young People Become Ethical Leaders

 

 

 

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Healthy Media Consumption

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I’ve blogged about how to spot fake news and variables complicating media ethics. Today I’ll explore the characteristics healthy media consumption. Let’s begin with a dose of healthy skepticism. 

Healthy Skepticism

You can’t believe everything you see. Photographs and videos that appear to be “proof” of a story may have been altered. Your best bet is to choose your sources of information carefully so that you can reasonably be assured that what you are seeing and hearing is real.

Careful Sourcing

Not all media platforms are created equal. Some don’t even try to be objective, and others are trying to sell you things while making you think you’re being entertained. Choose platforms that are considered objective, or sample a wide range of differing sources that each have different perspectives/biases/assumptions.

Time to Think

We need time to think. It is easier to stay grounded in our values when we have the time and space to reflect on them. When we aren’t constantly consuming content, we are more aware of our thought processes and more likely to pay attention to our responsibilities.

Multiple Layers of Truth

Even if you choose reputable news sources, you still have to look critically at the information that is presented. In the rush to share news first, even reputable sources mistakenly share content that may have some problems on closer inspection. We have to watch for layers of truth and investigate things to see if the assertion holds up at more than one level.

Case in point: The Washington Post published a story headlined‘Horns’ are growing on young people’s skulls. Phone use is to blame, research suggests.While the study mentioned in the article was actually published, questions were raised about the way the study was conducted, including existing neck problems in study participants, according to Ari Shapiro and John Hawks in the recent NPR interview: Is Technology Turning Us Into Horned Monsters? Not Exactly. In addition, the Washington Post article has since been updated to include that there appears to be researcher conflict of interest.

Careful Content Consumption 

“Smart” phones change our lives in positive ways, but they don’t remove the need for good thinking. Even though it may seem this way, they don’t simplify things for us so we can do less thinking. The high volume, high speed flood of content we are exposed to actually MULTIPLIES the need for good thinking and careful content consumption.

 

Also See How You Can Stop the Fake News Madness.

 

 

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What Drives Engagement? Is it Ethics?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

While there is not yet one common definition of employee engagement, according to Mandrake, “common themes found in most definitions include a commitment to and belief in the organization and its values and a willingness and ability to contribute ‘discretionary effort’ to help the organization succeed” (Corporate Social Responsibility and Employee Engagement: Making the Connection, Mandrake).

What really drives engagement? To what degree does ethics play a part? In this post I’ll explore 5 ways that an organization’s ethics impacts employee engagement. 

1. Commitment to Ethics and Ethical Culture 

“Positive perceptions of an organization’s ethical culture are associated with higher levels of engagement. Furthermore, management’s commitment to ethics is particularly important for employee engagement.”

Ethics and Employee Engagement, Supplemental Research Brief, Ethics Resource Center

“A company’s ethics and the ethical health of its culture affect its ability to engage employees on the job.”

LRN Ethics Study: Employee engagement, LRN 

2. Personal Alignment with the Organization’s Values

“Among the survey’s more than 90 statements, the one that showed the highest correlation with engagement was, ‘I am committed to my organization’s core values.'”

Corporate Social Responsibility and Employee Engagement: Making the Connection, Mandrake

3. Fairness and Transparency

“Fairness and transparency are fundamental yet powerful concepts that can make a lasting impression on employees and employers. These principles have the potential to influence many organizational outcomes in the workplace, including
job satisfaction and organizational commitment.”

2017 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: The Doors of Opportunity Are Open, SHRM

4. Respectful Treatment

“For the third year in a row, the largest percentage of respondents have indicated that respectful treatment of all employees at all levels was a very important contributor to their job satisfaction… employee perceptions related to respect touch many facets of the workplace, ranging from diversity and inclusion to prevention of workplace violence and harassment.”

2017 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: The Doors of Opportunity Are Open, SHRM

5. Corporate Social Responsibility for Purpose, Meaning and Impact

“Social impact programs and shared-value activities create a more engaged workforce.

The Purpose-Driven Professiojnal, Deloitte University Press

“Studies show that CSR is an emerging and increasingly important driver of employee engagement… Employees make three distinct judgments about their employing organization’s CSR efforts. That is, employees judge the social concern imbedded in an organization’s actions (procedural CSR), the outcomes that result from such actions (distributive CSR), and how individuals, both within and outside the organization, are treated interpersonally as these actions are carried out (interactional CSR).”    

Corporate Social Responsibility and Employee Engagement: Making the Connection, Mandrake

Ethics is increasingly important in attracting and engaging top talent. The organizations that make these five ethical areas a priority will be moving in the right direction. The catch is that priorities like “ethical culture” and “respectful treatment” have to happen everywhere in the organization every time, so organizational leaders need to be on board and prepared for the challenge.

Top 100 Leadership Blog

 

 

 

 

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On Patriotism, Nationalism, Globalism and Ethics

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I teach global leadership and applied ethics. Students often have questions about the differences between patriotism, nationalism and globalism. This post explores the differences and their ethical implications. 

There has been a lot of recent discussion around nationalism. The term has been used in ways that seem to put it on par with patriotism. To understand how it’s different, I’ll take a look at nationalism, patriotism and globalism using an ethical lens. Without seeing them through an ethical lens, the differences are less clear. Using an ethical lens, we begin to see that what appear to be subtle variations are vast differences in intent and impact. 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines patriotism as “love for or devotion to one’s country” and nationalism in part as “loyalty and devotion to a nation.” While they seem positive and similar at the surface level, Merriam-Webster goes on to clarify how they are different: 

“the definition of nationalism also includes ‘exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations…’ This exclusionary aspect is not shared by patriotism.”  Merriam-Webster, The Difference Between ‘Patriotism’ and ‘Nationalism’

Patriotism is pride in country, which is positive, but when it loses its grounding and takes a detour around ethical values it becomes something completely different. George Orwell, Bart Bonikowski and Noam Chomsky reflect on how nationalism impacts our actions and behaviors:

By ‘nationalism’ … I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests.”   

George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism

“The study of nationalism in settled times is not a unified field, but the multiple research streams described here offer…how such beliefs shape support for authoritarian politics and exclusionary policies.”

Bart Bonikowski, Nationalism in Settled Times, Harvard.edu

Patriotism and Nationalism in the Global Context

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines globalism as “a national policy of treating the whole world as a proper sphere for political influence.” Seeing the world as a global village helps us consider the impact of our choices on a wider scale.  If we don’t consider our impact on the rest of the world, we are operating with blinders on, ignoring the realities of the global context. We’re ignoring important ethical variables including human rights and respect for differences. Noam Chomsky said in a speech in Glasgow that nationalism has a way of oppressing others.” If we follow that line of thinking, we begin to need to ask a powerful question – “Is nationalism simply patriotism without ethics?” Consider this important question as you think about these two very different views of the world and our place in it.

Globalists:

  • recognize the connectedness of our global economy and consider the impact of decisions on a global scale
  • recognize that all people are equal and deserve to be treated with respect, regardless of where they come from
  • acknowledge diverse cultures and traditions of the world as all important
  • see the world as one big community of people

Using a globalist world view, patriotism is pride in one’s country in the context of the global village.

Nationalists:

  • consider their country to be “the best”
  • think about people outside their country as less important, of a lower status or inferior to those in their own country
  • ignore cultural diversity and only feel comfortable with the traditions of their own country
  • make decisions that benefit their own country and fail to consider the negative impact on the rest of the world
  • think of people who came from outside their country as not deserving the respect or fair treatment that would be offered to people in their own country

Using a nationalist world view, patriotism is a desire for exclusive benefits for one’s country, without regard for the impact on those beyond its borders.

How Different World Views Impact Our Ethical Choices

Let’s look a little deeper at the differences between globalism and nationalism. A person with a globalist worldview is more likely to value peaceful global relations among countries (seeing the world as a community) and a person with a nationalist worldview is more likely to value “winning” in the global arena (seeing one country as the best and entitled to more than the other countries). This nationalist sense of superiority and entitlement can lead to decisions that unfairly target, exclude and harm those from other countries. Someone with a nationalist worldview could be seen as lacking ethical competence due to failing to consistently honor human rights, and lacking cultural awareness and respect for differences. If we acknowledge the complexity of this issue, there are likely “shades of nationalism” that reflect combining patriotism with widely varying degrees of ethical awareness and action.

Using an ethical lens, patriotism and nationalism are more than different ways of seeing the world. They are ethically aware (patriotism + globalism) and ethically unaware (nationalism), respectful of differences (patriotism + globalism) and not respectful of differences (nationalism) on a sliding scale of degrees. Through an ethical lens, nationalism looks like patriotism that ignores the global context and ethical responsibility. 

Resources

Questions For Discussion

  1. Where have we seen recent examples of nationalism?
  2. In those examples, was there a detour around ethical values, ethics codes and/or global agreements? 
  3. Do you think that nationalism is “patriotism without ethics”? Why or why not?

 

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Nature Moments Offer Cognitive Renewal

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The last time I had to stop to let a flock of geese to cross the road, they were in no apparent hurry. Most likely, part of their territory had been turned into a housing development, and they were just travelling from point A to point B. The driver of the car in front of me enjoyed the nature moment – watching them quietly as they crossed.

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” William Shakespeare

The driver in the left lane, though, was clearly not happy with the interruption. The car inched forward, closer and closer to the geese, and the driver honked repeatedly to hurry them along.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”  Einstein

If you notice nature’s beauty and bounty, you can interpret a moment like this one as a welcomed respite from a busy day. It can leave you refreshed. If you have become “immune to nature’s beauty” you are missing out. “More than two-thirds of people choose a natural setting to retreat to when stressed” (How Does Nature Impact Our Well-Being?, umn.edu). Time in nature can also help us be more focused and patient. Spending time in nature, looking at plants, water, birds and other aspects of nature gives the cognitive portion of our brain a break, allowing us to focus better and renew our ability to be patient” (Immerse Yourself in a Forest For Better Health, Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State).

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu

Nature moments can help us handle constant change and complexity. According the most recent Global Wellness Summit, “The medical evidence for doses of nature is wide-ranging… It’s powerful medicine for our minds too, with studies indicating walks in nature engage the “default mode” brain network associated with stress-reduction and a boost in cognition, creativity and short-term memory” Prweb, Global Wellness Summit.

“Look for nature to be a much-more-prescribed antidote for what ails us.” Prweb, Global Wellness Summit

“University of British Columbia (UBC) researcher Holli-Anne Passmore says if people simply take time to ponder the nature around them, it will increase their general happiness and well-being” (Melissa Breyer, You can boost happiness by simply observing nature around you, Treehugger.com). According to research, Jill Suttie explains, “experiencing the beauty of nature increases positive emotion—perhaps by inspiring awe, a feeling akin to wonder, with the sense of being part of something bigger than oneself—which then leads to prosocial behaviors” (How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative, Greater Good Magazine, Berkeley.edu)

If you are feeling rushed (and “honking mad”), remind yourself to take a breath and enjoy the nature moment. It just might improve your thinking, creativity, focus, memory, health, well-being and happiness. The bonus for the people around you? It will improve your patience too. 

 

 

 

 

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Want Top Talent? Pass the Reverse Interview

By Linda Fisher Thornton

HR Executives are telling me that job applicants are “interviewing their interviewers” to find out about their organizations’ ethics. It makes sense. Applicants want potential employers to treat them well and to demonstrate a positive track record in areas that matter to them. In this trend toward “reverse interviewing,” applicants are asking about people practices, community involvement and sustainability practices. 

“Today’s workforce is on the lookout for mission-driven employers. People want more than just a paycheck from the organization they work for, they want to have a sense of purpose in their job.”

— Neelie Verlinden, 11 Hottest Recruiting Trends For 2019, Harver.com,

How people are treated has become a key factor in whether or not candidates will accept a job. Top talent is looking for much more than being treated with a baseline of respect. Employers are in the position of being carefully evaluated for their management practices and culture. As Kristina Martic points out in 15 New Recruiting Trends You Should Implement in 2019 [UPDATED] at talentlyft.com, “the current job market is 90% candidate driven. That means you don’t pick talent anymore. Talent picks you.”

“Workers expect more from employers—more transparency, accountability and trust, said Mark Lobosco, vice president of talent solutions for LinkedIn.”

 Roy Maurer, 3 Trends That Will Shape Recruiting in 2019, SHRM.org

It takes more than a pleasant and knowledgeable interviewer to impress job candidates. Every step of the process matters, and must meet the high standards of the talented candidate (who could go anywhere). Your company has to provide a measurably better experience. And that measurably better experience needs to be based on values that matter to the job candidate. The entire company’s reputation will be a major factor in the decision.

“Take care of your reputation. Marketing the brand is not enough. Job seekers are cruising anonymous employer review sites to see what life is like inside the company.”

— SHRM, Recruiting is Tougher in 2019

LRN reports via globenewswire.com that “the vast majority of U.S. employees – 87% – say business today urgently needs moral leadership.” Chances are that your culture will be closely examined by that ideal candidate you really want to hire for the job. The one with the skills you need to reach your organization’s goals.  Ask yourself, “When we are interviewed by our ideal job candidate, will we pass the test?”

Resources: 

5 Reasons Ethical Culture Doesn’t Just Happen

Full Accountability For Ethics: The New Normal

40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture

7 Questions For Ethical Culture Building

How to Build an Ethical Culture

Let’s Talk About Trust

50 Ways To Lead For Trust

TAP Into Trust With These 12 Principles

 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

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5 Insights For the Class of 2019

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I have a special message for our 2019 graduates. It includes five important life insights that I wish someone had shared with me when I was a new graduate beginning the next chapter of my life.

5 Insights For the Class of 2019 

  1. Take The JourneyRemember that while many will try to sell you the “quick fix” and “easy out,” it is doing the work and taking on the struggle and the growth that provide lasting success in life.
  2. Know Your ValuesFigure out the qualities in yourself that you most want to cultivate. Know the ethical values that you believe in deeply and want to live up to.
  3. Commit to Investigative Learning Learn how to find relevant information in a sea of content. Decide to do more than take information at face value. Learn how to identify fake news and sort out the misleading from the true.
  4. Learn Ethical Thinking and Communication   There is much more to learn beyond “do unto others.” Learn how to untangle ethical issues and talk about them calmly and respectfully, even when you disagree. Learn how to honor multiple stakeholders and look for solutions that benefit all.
  5. Decide to Make a Difference Just “showing up” to work does not make a good life. Find a cause you are passionate about that serves others in your community. It will offer you stability and satisfaction as you weather the normal ups and downs of life.

While the world will pull you in many different compelling directions, it is your values that will keep you anchored. Become aware of them. Nurture them…Know what you believe in. Live it. Set an example for others by building a good, ethical life in a chaotic world.

We are counting on you.

Subscribe at LeadinginContext.com/Blog or follow @leadingincontxt for new insights every week. 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2019 Leading in Context LLC

 

The Willingness to Admit We’re Wrong

By Linda Fisher Thornton

We’ve all been wrong. It’s only when we are willing to admit that we’re wrong that we show what this John Templeton Foundation video describes as “intellectual humility.” This video, titled “The Joy of Being Wrong” is a compelling visual portrayal of the process of being willing to admit we’re wrong, and it describes the many personal and social benefits that result.

In the New York Times article Why It’s So Hard to Admit You’re Wrong, Kristin Wong explores causes that include a quest for power, the need to reduce stress, and a desire to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of admitting we did something that does not fit our self image. 

Wanda Thibodeaux, in her Inc.com article Why Admitting You’re Wrong Is So Ridiculously Hard (and How to Get People to Do It Anyway) offers suggestions for how to help people with fragile egos learn to admit they were wrong.

This problem is one that seems personal, but the failure to admit we’re wrong impacts those around us in negative ways. I’d like to hear your thoughts. Do you think this is an issue we should be talking about with our teams?

 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2019 Leading in Context LLC

 

Unethical Thinking Leads To Unethical Leadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton

As humans, we are flawed thinkers who easily fall victim to biases and traps. The biases and traps we so easily fall into reshape our thinking in ways that can lead us to make bad decisions.

As you review the list of leadership traps below,, think about how each can lead to unethical thinking and actions.

Cause-and-Effect Thinking in a Systems World

Polarities and Dichotomies

Isolated (Top Down)

Fearful

Passive

Fragmented

Incompetent

Blinded By Profitability

Quick Fix

Controlling

Divisive

Oversimplified

Shallow

“Right”

Closed to Learning

Exclusive

Not Trusting

Not Trustworthy

A popular post I wrote on the subject of unethical thinking years ago that is still relevant today is 10 Thinking Traps (That Ethical Leaders Avoid)

Ethical leaders know they are subject to flawed thinking and use an intentional process to overcome biases and traps. To learn how to take charge of your thinking, see 22 Resources For Ethical Thinking.

 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2019 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

Uncomfortable Learning

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I’m generally a fan of uncomfortable learning. I believe that “uncomfortable” is sometimes a necessary part of the natural processes of learning and growth. Facilitators and teachers sometimes leverage it to help people get past outdated mindsets or to shake up and resolve group conflicts.

Uncomfortable learning can:

  • Take us outside of our current awareness
  • Call attention to areas where we may not be doing the best we can, or all we can
  • Expand our world in areas where we may not think we need to learn or we may not want to learn

When I teach ethics, I describe “cognitive dissonance” so my students can recognize it as they learn. It’s the uncomfortable feeling that happens while we are trying to resolve the dissonance between what we have always believed to be true, and new compelling information that contradicts our previous views. It takes some time to resolve the dissonance and rewire our thinking at a higher level of understanding.

Uncomfortable learning could include the time you first realized as a child that you were acting selfishly and your choices had a negative impact on others. It could include the time you realized that what you had been taught all your life about what was “right” was missing some important pieces.

When you notice that you are entering into the uncomfortable learning zone, don’t back up and retreat. Don’t let fear define your thinking or your life. Make the conscious choice to go through the process of uncomfortable learning to reach for a higher level of understanding.

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2019 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

 

Global Ethics: TMP Challenge 15

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I participate in a global think tank called The Milennium Project (TMP). As an invited reviewer, my focus is on Global Challenge 15: Global Ethics. Participants submit their observations on trends, help define the biggest problems and areas of opportunity and submit input on how to improve the course of Global Ethics.

The Milennium Project has produced a short video summarizing the global conversations on each topic. It details the global input on the most prevalent concerns and opportunities related to global ethics. Realizing that you cannot accurately portray every global ethics issue in a two minute video, it gives an overview of trends that global leaders should be aware of as they work to support our progress toward improving global ethics.

 

To learn more about The Milennium Project and explore its resources, watch this short video and visit TheMP.org.

For more on Challenge 15: Global Ethics, visit the TMP Challenge Page.

To watch videos on the other 14 Global Challenges, visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_VYU-OmDxOzlYJRUAJBVQg

You may also be interested the magazine Human Futures, which you can read on the World Future Studies Federation Website. 

 

 

 

Click the cover to read a free preview!

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