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 culture equation is changing in real time, every day. 

Take a look at this hypothetical scenario that demonstrates the importance of one choice:

Every Decision Changes The “Ethical Culture Equation”

Ethics Dividends

+1 Make ethics a priority

+1 Discuss the personal, legal, interpersonal, societal and planetary aspects of doing the right thing

+1 Generate an ongoing dialogue about ethical grey areas

+1 Prepare people to make good choices

+1 Build ethics into training. employee development and coaching

+1 Screen for ethics when hiring

Ethics Penalties

-6 Promote a leader who gets good results but is interpersonally toxic  (This simple mistake disengages the 6 positive messages above and the culture dividends you would have reaped from them)

If we overlook ethics when we make even one people decision, we may “actively undo” many of the positive culture-building actions we’ve taken. All it takes is one short-sighted leadership decision to weaken the organization’s ethical performance system and send the message that “ethics matters, except for this time.” 

The ethical equation has to be consistently positive to help prevent ethical problems. We must actively demonstrate the ethical values that we say are important. Every time. Without Fail. Period.

 

Join Me For: “Building an Ethical Culture: What to Cultivate and What to Weed Out”  on 2/27/17 via Compliance IQ. 

 

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Learn To See Through All 7 Lenses of Ethical Responsibility

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

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Ethical Leadership is About Service, Not Privilege

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

I was noticing how many drivers seem to be in a hurry, and I realized that some people are rushing so quickly that they don’t stop to consider their impact on others (on the road or elsewhere).  They just want to get wherever they’re going as quickly as possible.

Some leaders act this way, too. While their purpose should be to enable the success of those they lead, they stop their circle of purpose at themselves and don’t let concern for anyone else’s well-being slow them down. I wonder what values are at the center of that kind of leadership? Speed? Money? Power? Efficiency?

If someone were to shadow you for a day, what would they say that you value? Would it be Supporting Others? Building Mutually Beneficial Relationships? Respect? Care? Or would they name Speed, Money, Power and Efficiency?  Who’s well-being do you consider to be part of your leadership responsibility? 

Ethical leaders don’t play favorites. They consider their impact broadly. They think before they act, and their thinking includes a wide circle of constituents. Besides the broad view they take of their constituents, there is another important way ethical leaders approach their role that sets them apart and helps them bring out the best in people and organizations. 

Ethical leaders understand that their role is one of service and not of privilege, and that informs every choice they make. 

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Trust Energizes Organizations

 

trust-is-energizing-it-1

By Linda Fisher Thornton

How transformational is the power of trust in organizations? It increases capacity and improves performance. It improves work satisfaction and quality of life: 

“Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.”                        

Paul J. Zak, The Neuroscience of Trust, HBR

Trust is no longer considered a “nice to have” element in the effective workplace. It is a “must have” element that energizes the whole organization. Working in a safe high-trust environment, people can do extraordinary things.

On Monday I received a Trust Across America 2017 Top Thought Leaders in Trust award an12317-trust-mag-cover-featured a Lifetime Achievement Award. It is quite an honor to be recognized along with so many notable champions for trust.

See the short articles contributed by the Trust Across America 2017 Top Thought Leaders in Trust: Lifetime Award winners in the latest issue of TRUST! Magazine. This quote is from my piece on What Trust Means to Me on page 13: 

“When people work in a high trust environment, they experience the freedom and space to excel that leads to nothing less than organizational magic.”

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Learn To See Through All 7 Lenses of Ethical Responsibility

Includes case examples and questions.

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

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Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? Part 4

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leadership is not easy. Leaders need to be inspired to lead with positive values while dealing with the goals and expectations of multiple stakeholders. 

Here are the previous posts in the series if you missed them: 

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? Part 1 (Improve Accountability)

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? Part 2 (Improve Leader Impact)

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? Part 3 (Manage the System)

The focus of this week’s post is on Ways to Inspire Leaders to Lead With Positive Ethical Values. Here are 3 ways to inspire leaders to reach for positive values – that also help you “do good” in your organization, community and world. 

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)?

Inspire Leaders to Lead With Positive Ethical Values

  1. MAKE LEADING WITH VALUES A NON-NEGOTIABLE STANDARD:  Non-negotiable performance standards should include respect, care, trust building and full inclusion.
  2. TEACH HOW TO LEAD WITH ETHICAL VALUES:  Leaders will need to talk through complex issues and explore how to maintain the “non-negotiable” values while making good business decisions at the same time. 
  3. MAKE LEADING WITH VALUES PAY OFF: Leaders who consistently model the “non-negotiable” values should be rewarded so that others get the message that those values are just as important to the organization as profitability and growth. 

These 3 ways to change the ethics quo will inspire leaders to reach for ethical values and ethical outcomes, fueling long-term organizational success. 

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See The Whole Picture Through 7 Lenses (That Are All Important) 

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What is the Current State of Business Ethics?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I met with faculty members and students at Plymouth State University on October 3rd on the topic of “Decoding the Complexity of Doing the Right Thing.” They had lots of questions, including the one answered in this video, “What it the Current State of Business Ethics?” This is a question that is ‘top of mind’ for many people as this year draws to a close.

The media coverage of ethical failures makes it appear that ethics in business is getting worse. Is that really what’s going on, or is there more to the story? 

 

Let me know your thoughts after you watch the video.

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Prepare For Ethical Leadership Future – Learn To See Through All 7 Lenses

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Ethical Leadership is a “Fear-Free” Zone

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Fear is insidious. It changes how we see the world and how we treat others. Here are 5 important reasons why fear has no place in our workplaces, our families or our communities:

5 Reasons Fear Has No Place in Leadership

  1. Fear creates a dampening field that blocks positive interpersonal behavior including respect and care
  2. Fear-inducing relationships are damaging to human health
  3. When they are fearful, people spend time trying to protect themselves rather than reaching for their potential, and that reduces job satisfaction and productivity
  4. The damaged job satisfaction and productivity that are common in fear-based relationships translate into damaged organizational results
  5. Fear leads to unethical choices about people who are not like us

Fear is the toxic ingredient in many failed leadership strategies. When we’re fearful, we’re not at our best. We’re not thinking clearly. When we’re just trying to protect ourselves, we may quickly “rule out” positive strategies that would help us solve collective problems – including dialogue, cooperation, long-term thinking and listening to understand.

If we think someone or some group is “dangerous” or “harmful,” why would we want to get close enough to understand them?

When we become fearful, we almost automatically shift from considering ourselves and others, to just considering ourselves. We narrow the scope of the respect and care we offer to only those around us who do not elicit our fear response. This kind of reaction is understandable as a natural survival instinct. But is it ethical leadership? No, it’s not.

Great leaders respect others AND differences. If they begin to become fearful of a person or group, they recognize the signs, step back to examine their motives, and shift their thinking. They never compromise respect.

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Includes case examples and questions.

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

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117 Trends to Watch in 2017

By Linda Fisher Thornton

There are many changes underway that will impact your leadership and your business this year. Adapting to them will require shifts in direction and focus, while staying grounded in positive ethical values. Get settled in with your favorite morning brew and review these trend reports to see what you can expect in the New Year.

117 Trends That Should be on Your Radar in 2017:

The Consumer Sector in 2030: Trends and Questions to Consider, McKinsey & Company

10 Workplace Trends You’ll See in 2017, Forbes.com

7 Leadership Development Trends, Forum

5 Consumer Trends for 2017,Trendwatching.com

Health and Wellness the Trillion Dollar Industry in 2017: Key Research Highlights, Euromonitor International

26 Disruptive Tech Trends For the Rest of the Decade, Brian Solis

Future State 2030: The Global Megatrends Shaping Governments, KPMG.com

The four key consumer trends for 2017, BlueNotes, anz.com

7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2017, Forbes.com

The Future of Luxury: Five Trends Reshaping Luxury Consumerism in 2017 and Beyond, Trendwatching.com

5 Digital Marketing Trends in 2017 You Need to Prepare for Now, IBM THINKMarketing

10 HR Trnds You Will See in 2017, Successories.com

As we approach 2017, be sure your leadership team is ready for what’s ahead.


Learn how to adapt your leadership to global trends: Read 7 Lenses (preview below).

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Includes case examples and questions.

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

Leaders: Can Rights and Responsibilities Be Separated?

There-is-a-growing

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This week I want to take a moment to reflect on the question “Can rights and responsibilities be separated?” Clearly they are both part of good citizenship and ethical leadership. But what happens if we try to separate them?

Rights Without Responsibility?

If we demand our rights but fail to live up to our responsibilities, we will have a negative impact on others. 

If we assert individual rights without also taking responsibility, we are asking for more than we are willing to give. We are conveying that what we want is more important than what others want. We are demanding that our needs be met without caring about what happens to others.

Under those circumstances the answer to “Can rights and responsibilities be separated?” is “Yes, but not ethically.”

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Learn how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.  

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Is Moral Development Observable?

 

 

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Most of us have some idea about human development because we have watched people grow up and pass through stages and milestones in their lives. We have seen babies roll over and sit up, and later walk on their own. We have watched children grow into teenagers and become adults.

Moral development is just as important as physical development, and should be going on at the same time as physical development, but it is not visible in terms of a person’s appearance. Because it is not visible, its important role in human development is sometimes overlooked.

Moral development is dependent on learning, so it is vital that organizations provide an environment that forwards moral learning. There are specific things that organizations can do to encourage moral development in leadership. They include teaching systems thinking and how to seek mutual benefit when making decisions.

Moral development requires learning. It doesn’t just happen.

There are also things parents can do to encourage moral development in children. “Young people need help learning how to succeed in living positive ethical values in a world filled with distractions and negative messages. Our job is to help them center themselves in positive ethical values and get to know themselves as good people.” (Thornton, Helping Young People Become Ethical Leaders, Leading in Context Blog)

To “observe” someone’s level of moral development, look beyond what they say to their behavior and their choices. Notice how well they treat others. Look for how well they seek solutions that benefit all parties, not just themselves. Notice what they value. Notice how consistently they think beyond their own interests and concerns to attend to the concerns of others.  These are the ways that moral development is made visible. 

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Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Includes how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

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Building Trust: Paradoxical Qualities to Cultivate

 

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

As we progress on the learning journey toward positive leadership, some of the qualities we seek seem to be paradoxical. For example, as leaders we need to be CRYSTAL CLEAR in outwardly communicating what we expect and also OPEN to hearing input from others that might change our plans. We need to be FULLY PRESENT in this moment, and still able to THINK AHEAD to prepare for the future.

The secret that great leaders know is that these qualities (which may seem like polar extremes) are each effective at different levels, in different contexts and at different times. 

Cultivating these qualities in ourselves and our organizations helps us build a high trust workplace where people can do their best work:

Be Dependable and Open to Change

Be Fully Present Right Now and Think Ahead

Be Crystal Clear About What’s Expected and Open to Hearing Input From Others

Be Confident and Humble

Be Decisive and Flexible

Great leaders possess seemingly paradoxical qualities. They know when to use each end of the spectrum, depending on what is most needed to move individuals and groups forward. 

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, describes Level 5 Leaders (the highest level in his model) as having the paradoxical qualities of personal humility and professional will. This means that they are strong and confident, but choose to use their leadership in a “service-orientated” way that benefits others. They don’t save the power or attention for themselves.

Great leaders learn to identify when a group needs clarification, and when people want to be heard. They respond with just what people need at that moment. That careful dance builds trust.

We can be decisive when we need to be, but also keep our teams involved in deciding our future path.

We can be confident in our leadership and also humble enough to step aside to let others take the lead so they can grow.

Cultivating these paradoxical qualities (and learning when to apply them for the most positive impact) takes our leadership to a higher level. 

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Includes how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

5 Signs Your Culture is FAILING

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Building a positive ethical culture is a long-term process. It involves much more than just company trappings and perks – leaders must make a commitment to people and to creating a positive work space. When things seem to be going well, it’s easy to miss signs that the culture may be off track.

Mistakes slow our culture building progress, and we may lose ground if they are not fixed quickly. Have you seen signs of any of these culture-eroding problems in your organization?

5 Signs Your Culture is FAILING

  1. Closed (Lack of Transparency, One-Way Communication)
  2. Behind the Times (Failing to Stay Competent, Not Adapting to Change)
  3. Aiming For Minimum Standards (Focusing On Laws Instead of Values))
  4. Toxic (Allowing Teasing, Bullying and Other Negative Behaviors)
  5. Loose (Performance Standards and Values Are Not Enforced)

If you see culture warning signs like these, address them quickly. If left unchecked, they unravel the fabric of the culture, leaving holes that can lead to ethical problems.

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

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Reflections on Truth (Are You a Seeker?)

 

If-you-would-be-a-real

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Reflections on Truth

We’ve heard the expressions “truth is in the eye of the beholder” and “the truth shall set you free.” What is this truth that so many have spoken of? How do we find it? How does it relate to ethics? Ponder those important questions as you explore this collection of quotes about truth.

A Collection of Important Quotes About Truth 

There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth.                                                                                                                                         Leo Tolstoy

Truth is certainly a branch of morality and a very important one to society.                                                                                                                                 Thomas Jefferson

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.                                                                                                   Marcus Aurelius

There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.                                                                                                                         Maya Angelou

If there were only one truth, you couldn’t paint a hundred canvases on the same theme.                                                                                                                Pablo Picasso

Justice and truth are such subtle points that our tools are too blunt to touch them accurately.                                                                                                         Blaise Pascal

The truth is a snare: you cannot have it, without being caught. You cannot have the truth in such a way that you catch it, but only in such a way that it catches you.

Soren Kierkegaard

The truth is rarely pure and never simple.

Oscar Wilde

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.             John F. Kennedy

People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe.                                                                                                         Andy Rooney

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.                                               Rene Descartes

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.
Buddha

Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also.

Carl Jung

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth’.
Dan Rather

The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.
Albert Einstein

According to the wisdom in these quotations, truth is not simple or easily found and there is an element of growth and open-mindedness required on the seeker’s journey. 

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Includes how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

5 Insights Into The Future of Leadership Development (Part 1)

Leaders-must-learn-how
By Linda Fisher Thornton

In this series called “5 Insights Into the Future of Leadership Development” I will be sharing trends and learning resources that give us the broad picture of how to prepare leaders for success in a complex, connected global society. 

In a recent International Leadership Association Leadership Perspectives Webinar I shared my observations on trends that are advancing our understanding of “good leadership.” These trends are shaping how we develop leaders, moving us away from traditional approaches (that are no longer effective) and into new territory. In this first post in the series, I share my observations on broad global trends that are informing the changes in leader development.

Global Trends Informing Changes in Leader Development

INCREASING ETHICAL AWARENESS

  • Increased ethical awareness among consumers and a trend toward supporting ethical brands
  • Social media sharing discourages brands from using negative, unethical tactics
  • Growing awareness of the requirements for ethical leadership beyond laws and regulationslearning leader, leadership future, learning future,
  • General trend toward positive results in the social sciences
  • Increased focus on business metrics beyond the bottom line and on building Ethical Brand Value
  • Realization that our thoughts impact our actions and that we need to be intentional about our thinking and aware of our biases
  • Realization that our emotions play a more critical role in our ethics than previously understood

INCREASING EMPHASIS ON LEADING WITH POSITIVE VALUES

  • Growing awareness that values-based leadership transforms organizations and creates a competitive advantage
  • Changing leadership relationship puts more power with the employee, and more pressure on the leader to provide a positive work environment
  • Increasing globalization fuels expectations of cultural awareness and respect for differences
  • Increased value being placed on authenticity and higher levels of leadership development
  • Strong focus on human well-being combined with evidence that toxic leadership harms

CHANGING LEARNING LANDSCAPE

  • Learning how to handle complexity  (not just learning pre-determined key knowledge points)
  • Learning how to manage a ceaseless torrent of information
  • Learning to see connections, patterns and systems
  • Integrating ethical responsibility into all aspects of leader learning

These trends compel us to move away from a traditional knowledge-based approach to leadership development toward something more deeply transformational. Watch this blog for “5 Insights Into the Future of Leadership Development (Part 2)”! 

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Includes how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

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10 Ways the Leadership Relationship is Changing (Part 2)

Trust-and-responsibility

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Previously, I blogged about the first 5 of 10 Ways the Leadership Relationship is Changing, and today I want to explore 5 more. These changes reflect a growing awareness that leadership never was about the leader – it is about how the leader takes responsibility and enables the success of others.

I guess we could say that some people got caught up in the perks of leadership and forgot about the service part and the need to take ethical responsibility. Well, some of those leadership perks are disappearing (like the corner office). 

Here are 5 more ways the leadership relationship is changing to favor those who leaders serve:

6.  From keeping production high to attracting and keeping top talent (who will keep production high)

7.  From telling to asking, involving, thinking together

8.  From an “open door policy” to “no door workspaces”

9.  From position power to competence and contribution power

10. From “do as I say, not as I do” to “Let me show you how” (demonstrating company values and ethics codes)

Trust and responsibility are the scaffolding underneath positive workplace relationships. The test of our leadership is not how well we handle tasks and direct people, but how well we build high-trust workplaces where everyone can work at their best.

All 10 of these changes in the leadership relationship reflect a new leadership mindset that is more ethically developed. The changing leadership relationship requires us to put ego aside and work for the good of those we lead and serve. After all, leadership is relational. It’s not about us. It’s about how well we bring the best in others.

 

 

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Includes how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

10 Ways The Leadership Relationship is Changing (Part 1)

Our-understanding-of (5)By Linda Fisher Thornton

A convergence of positive trends is changing leadership expectations, and today I want to explore how those trends are changing the leadership relationship. 

There is no effective leadership based on position power and control in the workplace anymore. Employees have choices. They seek meaningful work that is more than “just a job.” Leaders who miss this shift will wonder why they can’t keep good people. 

“The whole notion of “positional leadership”—that people become leaders by virtue of their power or position—is being challenged. Leaders are instead being asked to inspire team loyalty through their expertise, vision, and judgment.”

Leadership Awakened, Nicky Wakefield, Anthony Abbatiello, Dimple Agarwal, Karen Pastakia, & Ardie van Berkel, Deloitte University Press

Succeeding with position power is about being the one in charge, but that approach doesn’t work well with today’s top talent. This shift in power is completely changing the skill sets that leaders need. 

Here are the first 5 of 10 Ways the Leadership Relationship is Changing:

  1. From “making sure people work harder” to “making the workplace more pleasant” (so people can work effectively)

  2. From monitoring and correcting to engaging and coaching

  3. From delegating tasks to collaborating and co-creating

  4. From using authority to control people to using care to support people

  5. From separate offices for leaders to open work spaces with equal footing

These 5 changes in the leadership relationship are not happening everywhere yet, but they are happening in the best-led organizations. Are you seeing them in your workplace?

Our understanding of “good leadership” is evolving. This shift is being fueled by increasing leadership expectations – I wrote about them in 7 Lenses and in these posts:

Leaders need to adapt to a changing landscape so that they can attract, engage and keep great people. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, when I will share 5 more of the 10 Ways the Leadership Relationship is Changing. 

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Includes how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

 

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