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

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Leaders Influence First By Who They Are

 

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethical leaders are not easily pulled off course – They stay focused on the values that are important in good leadership. They realize that they are influencing others, and they perceive that as both a privilege and a responsibility. They ask themselves, “In my leadership, am I making the path clear for others to follow?” 

Leaders influence first by who they are, and then by what they do.

If we see leadership as only a privilege (and not a responsibility) we may be tempted by personal gain. If we see it as only a responsibility (and not a privilege), we may miss the joys of bringing out the potential of those we lead. 

Because good leadership is centered in positive values, leaders influence others first by who they are and then by what they do. They do not need to promote themselves as responsible leaders because their actions convey what words cannot.

 

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What is “Harm?” (It Depends On Your Perspective)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leaders interpret “harm” according to the perspective on ethical leadership they are using to make decisions. They may consider harm narrowly (only what would harm them) or broadly (what would harm others and society). 

At its most narrow, harm could be interpreted as harming me or my company’s profitability.

Broadening our view, harm may be interpreted as anything that harms our constituents.

Broadening our view even more, we may see harm as anything that harms anyone.

Here are some examples of how leaders may interpret “harm”:                                                 

What is Harm?

Harm in Profit-Based Ethics =   Anything that harms profits

Harm in People-Based Ethics = Anything that harms people

Harm in Planet-Based Ethics = Anything that harms the planet and nature

Harm in Greater Good-Based Ethics = Anything that harms people, or planet and nature, for current members of society and future generations.

Which definition of harm is “right?” At the highest levels of ethical leadership, we care about all of our constituents and consider harm in all of its dimensions, balancing concerns about profit with concern for others and society.

Leadership Questions To Ponder:

  1. How narrowly or broadly are we interpreting “harm”?
  2. What constituents should we protect that are not currently in our definition?
  3. What changes can we make now to begin to consider our impact on those constituents?

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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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5 Questions For Leaders Seeking Insight In The New Year

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Many thanks to Leading in Context friends and followers for a wonderful 2015.  I appreciate your active involvement in the movement – special thanks to all who shared posts, posted comments and let me know what they wanted to learn more about. I am grateful for the global conversation about the positive leadership we need for a better future.

This New Year, as we head into 2016, I urge you to reach for Insight.

Insight is much deeper than observation, and it can mean a variety of powerful and life-changing things:

  • An understanding of “the inner nature of things” (Wikipedia, Insight)
  • An “aha moment” when things make sense and seem clear
  • Discovering a simple solution to a long-standing problem
  • Achieving a sudden and profound understanding of our own capabilities and challenges
  • Getting a glimpse of who we could be at our very best

Insight is especially important in leadership. Without it, we may cling to outdated notions of the purpose of leadershipWith it, we may inspire many others to do great things.

Insight is especially important now because we are leading in a time of information overload. Without it, we can miss the deeper meaning. With it, we can help others see beyond the flashy messages to the values that matter.

This year, aim high, striving to be a leader who helps others achieve insight and who brings out the best in people, organizations and communities.

Ask Your Team These 5 Questions:

  1. How directly do we contribute to our organization’s mission, and how can we transform our mindset and approach to support it more deeply?
  2. What routine tasks could we automate or eliminate so that we can spend time on what really matters?
  3. How could we help our organization move from a focus on the week or the quarter to a focus on its impact over the next hundred years?
  4. How well are we honoring all 7 Lenses of Ethical Leadership in our decision making and actions? (See this video for an introduction to the 7 Lenses and this Manifesto that explains the thinking process behind the 7 Lenses framework)
  5. What is one thing that we could improve that would take our work to a higher level of positive impact in the organization, the community and the world?

Leaders, make it a priority to reach past the noise and past day-to-day pressures. Seek Insight in 2016.

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What is Ethical Thinking?

FINAL CHANGE THIS MANIFESTO_Page_01By Linda Fisher Thornton

Today I’m taking you inside the mind of the ethical leader to explore ethical thinking

What do ethical leaders think about?

  • They are guided by a desire to have a positive impact.
  • They think about what’s best for others, and seek mutual benefit. 
  • They think about ways to demonstrate their values in day-to-day leadership, even when faced with difficult challenges.

Here are some ways that ethical leaders think about ethical responsibility:

Inside the Mind of an Ethical Leader

“I make decisions based on values, not money pressures.”

“I need to constantly learn in order to stay ethical.”

“I can learn something from you, even if we disagree.”

“Leadership means creating value for others.”

“Understanding multiple perspectives helps us find mutually beneficial solutions.”

 “Respect is the minimum standard.”

Excerpted From Inside The Mind of An Ethical Leader by Linda Fisher Thornton, Guest Post on Management Excellence by Art Petty.

The real test of our ethical thinking is in how we choose to handle our day to day challenges. 

Are we being dragged through the day reacting to the chaos, or are we making intentional, values-based choices? Are we the sum of our challenges, or of our choices?

Are We Our Challenges?

TIME PRESSURE

MONEY PRE$$URE

INFORMATION OVERLOAD

COMPLIANCE

STRESS

RISK

Or Our Choices?

RESPECT AND CARE FOR OTHERS

COMMUNITY SERVICE

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP

FOLLOWING LAWS

PROTECTING FUTURE GENERATIONS

RESPONSIBLE PROFITABILITY

Excerpted From ChangeThis Manifesto “What Ethical Leaders Believe” By Linda Fisher Thornton

The bottom line? Ethical thinking means we never lose sight of our positive purpose. We choose to be the sum of our values, not our challenges.

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“Is It Ethical?” (Decision Tool Based on the Book 7 Lenses)

7LensesStack

By Linda Fisher Thornton

A new ethical decision-making tool is available for readers of 7 Lenses! If you have read the book and want to take your decision-making to a higher level of complexity, visit the new 7 Lenses Tools page. You’ll find the decision-making worksheet “Is it Ethical?” based on the book.

So often decisions are made based on cost or convenience without considering the full ethical impact. This new 7 Lenses® decision-making worksheet guides you through all 7 Lenses of Ethical Leadership to get the full picture.

It’s important to think long term about our leadership impact (from 7 different perspectives). When we fully consider the impact of our choices, we can make decisions that meet our own needs and the needs of others and society.

Use this tool for informing:

  • your individual decisions
  • group decision-making conversations
  • coaching and mentoring other leaders

My hope is that “Is It Ethical?” will help you honor all 7 Lenses in your daily leadership. Leaders who are using the 7 Lenses® framework tell me that there is a startling clarity in this approach and that having this framework for understanding ethical responsibility is transforming their leadership and changing their lives in positive ways.

Please share your story with other readers – How is the 7 Lenses® framework helping you stay grounded in ethical values? How is it improving your decision making? How is it changing your daily leadership? 

 

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Are You Approachable?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The pace of change is out of control in the workplace. Have any of you learned more than three new software programs this week? Have you had to deliver on a deadline in spite of being completely new to a project? Have you struggled to get the attention of colleagues when you need their input, only to find that they are too busy to make the time to meet?

Leaders, if you are struggling to deal with the pace of change, how do you think your employees feel? One of the most critical things you can do is be accessible when they need you. If they get stuck, they need to be able to ask questions. And get stuck they will. It’s inevitable.

Your work is dependent on others, and your employees are even farther from the answers than you are. They need to be able to count on your availability and support. 

As fast as we are all moving, we need to realize that we are part of a connected chain of information, processes and people. Knowing that a manager is available to help can make a critical difference to employees – not just in performance, but also in engagement and morale. 

Employees count on you to be approachable. Don’t be like the prickly cactus, daring others to approach at their own risk.

 

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