Leader Competence: Will it Be A Multiplier or a Divider?

 

slide2By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethical leadership competence is an issue that is gaining attention. Expectations of “good leadership” are increasing and leaders and organizations are scrambling to keep up. While sometimes people disagree about implementation, there is a strong consensus among scholars and research organizations that today’s leadership requires broad, high level thinking. 

With expectations for good leadership continuing to expand, some organizations still do not have leader competence on their strategy agendas. 

5 Compelling Reasons Leader Competence Should be a Top Strategic Priority:

  1. Competence informs thinking. Failing to stay competent, leaders may not be capable of thinking through the complex issues and situations they face in a global society and economy.
  2. Competence informs action. Failing to stay competent, leaders may solve the wrong problems or solve the right problems the wrong way.
  3. Competence fuels learning and growth. Failing to stay competent, leaders may get “stuck in place” and become entrenched in the face of challenges (instead of growing through them).
  4. Competence is required by law. There are laws and regulations in place to protect those who stay competent from being harmed by those who don’t.
  5. Competence fuels great performance. Competent leaders know how to develop competent associates who deliver great performance. 

Leader competence is either going to be a multiplier or a divider. When you have it, you multiply performance and trust, with exponential results. Without it, you divide your possible results by the incompetence factor. The more leaders who are behind the times, the higher the incompetence factor that is eroding your organization’s desired results. Can you afford to take the chance? Put ethical leadership competence on your strategic agenda this year.

 

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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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The Rise of Pay to Play

By Linda Fisher Thornton

It is sometimes difficult to sort out “pay to play” awards (you pay someone to say good things about you and give you an icon to put on your website) from legitimate awards (the judging process is objective — if you win you have actually earned it).

“Pay to Play” is On the Rise

Many businesses now provide “perks” if you like them on social media – but did they earn that like? In essence that like becomes a “payment” for the freebie that the customer wants, so the customer trades the endorsement for something they want. Are those likes real?

The gaming community uses “pay to win” strategies that let players pay extra to unlock advantageous perks that help them win. But in some cases this skews the advantage toward those who pay and the game isn’t as fun for those who don’t. Is that win fair?

In journalism, there is a temptation to grant “pay to play” favoritism to companies that pay to advertise in the publication, and reject stories about those companies that don’t pay. Is that fair and objective reporting? (Pay to play is rejected by the Society of Professional Journalists Ethics Code)

Without Ethics, Pay to Play Makes Good Sense (It Makes Money!)

Pay to play is a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” arrangement that may seem so attractive that it’s tempting to bypass our ethical responsibilities. 

Ethical leaders avoid the temptation and earn trust through fair dealings with people while following the ethics codes of their professions. They do the work to do it right. Now that’s real leadership.

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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.  

 

Click the cover to read a free preview!

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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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Top 10 Posts 2016: Leading in Context Blog

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Of the 52 posts published on the Leading in Context Blog in 2016, these 10 were the most popular. See if you notice a theme that connects these topics that readers accessed most frequently:

10 Ways the Leadership Relationship is Changing (Part 1)

Great Leaders are Other-Focused

The Future of Learning Isn’t About “Knowing”

15 Quotes for Leadership Insight

Leaders, Don’t You Care? (9 Red Flags That Tell Employees You Don’t)

5 Insights Into the Future of Leadership Development Part 1

Every Leader is a Work in Progress (Yes, Even You)

What Does “Good Leadership” Mean?

What Does it Mean to “Be a Leader?”

Ethical Failures: What Causes Them?

If I had to pick a theme for these posts that were most popular in 2016, it would be “Understanding Leader Roles, Responsibilities and Relationships.” Which 2016 post was your favorite? If you have ethical leadership topics you want to learn more about in 2017, comment here, or tweet your idea to @leadingincontxt!

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

Includes case examples and questions.

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

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20 Quotes To Inspire Leaders in the New Year (Part 2)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Are your leaders prepared for the year ahead? Each day will bring new challenges. To succeed within ethical boundaries, they’ll need a clear picture of “good leadership.”

This series includes 20 quotes (linked to posts with leadership guidance) to inspire you and help you improve your leader development. Part 1 included the first 10. Here are 10 more:

Demonstrating care is one of the hallmark requirements of good leadership. 

We are learning our way forward in developing leaders for the workplace of the future while they are learning their way forward through complexity, economic challenges and catastrophic change.

Leaders are the key to values alignment – they model and reinforce values and hold people accountable for following them. 

The triple bottom line, a great improvement over “win at all cost,” is only the beginning. The future of work will require much more.

Leaders are culture caretakers. To fulfill that role successfully, they need to know what a positive ethical culture looks like.

Hands-off leadership can be as bad as micromanagement in terms of its ultimate impact on organizational ethics.

Understanding what causes ethical failures can help us build a more robust infrastructure for preventing them.

We must grow into our ethical leadership competence… intentionally…over time. 

Trust transforms.

Leading with positive ethical values builds trust and brings out the best in people, which brings out the best in the organization, which leads to great results.

As we approach 2017, be sure your leadership team is ready for what’s ahead. Use these links to consider how to improve leadership development in your organization. Make sure each leader is clear about what “good leadership” looks like in action. 

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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.

Click the book cover for a preview.

 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2017 Leading in Context LLC

A Message of Hope

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Thank you, friends, for reading and sharing this Blog in 2016. I appreciate all the ways you have helped forward the movement toward authentic ethical leadership. Only by bringing out our best as leaders are we able to bring out the best in those we lead. 

As we head into this holiday season, I wish you hope. Hope is what keeps us going when problems seem impossible to solve, when time is short, and when solutions are distant. If your hopefulness should ever falter, remember these important words:

“Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.”

Emily Dickinson

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

Albert Einstein 

“There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.”

Bernard Williams

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”

Desmond Tutu

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Great leaders inspire hopefulness. They imagine a better world, and they build the future accordingly.

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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.

Click the book cover for a preview.

 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

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®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

20 Quotes To Inspire Leaders in the New Year (Part 1)

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

In the New Year, we will deal with leadership challenges we cannot predict now. To be ready, we need to set our leadership and learning on the path to success.

This series includes 20 quotes (linked to posts with leadership guidance) that will help you leverage your leadership planning. Here are the first 10:

Since our world and work are changing at the speed of complexity, every leader will always be a “work in progress.”

The changing leadership relationship requires us to put ego aside and work for the good of those we lead and serve.

Leaders are developers, team builders, imaginers, culture caretakers, roadblock removers and inspirers. Their success depends on the success of others. 

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

Taking responsibility at the highest levels (even when it’s difficult) separates “good leaders” from the rest. 

Good leaders know that the road to profit leads through good work, good leadership and good ethics. 

When the leader improves, everybody can do more.

Real respect is not selective. It’s not selfish.

There is a vast difference between a leader who KNOWS and a leader who GROWS.

Leading with positive values inspires meaning-seekers who want to do more than just “show up.”

Is your organization crystal clear about what good leadership requires? Are you helping leaders get there? Use these articles as the basis for conversations that will clear things up going in to the New Year.

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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.

Click the book cover for a preview.

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Message of Gratitude

By Linda Fisher Thornton

There have been several great leaders who helped me grow, and who inspired me to want to lead others. This message is for them:

“Thank you for being a great leader. You may never know just how deeply your kindness and support have impacted my life. When I felt like giving up, you encouraged me. When I was overwhelmed, you directed me. When I hit the wall, you showed me how to climb it. When I was at my best, you stood back and let me fly. When I did great things, you celebrated and never tried to take any of the credit. I learned how to be a light for others by your example.”

Take a moment, in this season of giving thanks, to share a message of gratitude with a leader who has changed your life and inspired your leadership.

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Prepare For Ethical Leadership Future – Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

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

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do You Recognize a Trustworthy Leader?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

I’m hearing people talking about trustworthy leadership everywhere I go. We all crave it. We seek it out because trustworthy leadership allows us to be at our best so that we can make a meaningful contribution.

To recognize a trustworthy leader, look for all of these tell-tale signs:

  • Values Centered – character, integrity and moral awareness are top priorities
  • Full Congruence – behaves the same way in every context, and shows congruence between thoughts, words and deeds
  • Genuinely Cares – treats people well – everybody, not just the inner circle
  • Shows Respect  – demonstrates respect for people and differences
  • Other Focused – realizes that leadership is about bringing out the best in others – and it shows in every interaction and conversation

The best leaders strive to live out all five of these characteristics every day. They center themselves in positive ethical values like respect, care and trustworthiness. 

What should you do if you can’t find a trustworthy leader? Keep looking. They’re out there.

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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.  

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

Is Spam An Ethical Red Flag?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Consumers expect companies to respect boundaries. That allows them to live happy and meaningful lives without intrusion from companies that want them to “buy right now.”

Spam Violates Ethical Boundaries

When people get spam mail, email or blog comments, do they rush to click on the websites or buy the items advertised? Probably not. The reasons are a complex mix of changing expectations and higher ethical standards for business:

  • A barrage of unwanted information violates the boundary of respect for people’s time and space.
  • Sustainability is important, and fat envelopes with unwanted offers use up natural resources. 
  • Spam signifies that the organization is willing to do whatever it takes to get your business, making savvy consumers wonder “What else are they doing that isn’t good?”

Spam senders conveniently ignore information and privacy boundaries  – they do not honor people’s right to seek out the information they want, instead pushing the information they want people to haveThe privacy boundary is also a major issue in the discussion about technology-enabled smart marketing based on what people have viewed in the past.

Spam Creates a False Sense of Urgency

The spam that I see is generally for optional luxury goods. With these goods, the sender is trying to create a need and not fulfill one. Lauren Bloom describes how that can make us feel in The Ethics of Spam“There’s something sadly dehumanizing about all that in-your-face advertising.  If I’m really a valued customer, why are you pushing me to buy things I don’t want or need?”

Responsible Selling is Respectful

I realized when thinking about this problem, that I’ve never seen spam from a human rights organization. Why not? Perhaps companies that work based on positive ethical values care about their reputations, and realize that spam is not responsible.  Maybe they realize that people are less likely to buy from spammers. Responsible selling requires a respectful approach. As ethical expectations have increased, so have consumer reactions and legal penalties. 

How does spam inform us? Perhaps it is a red flag – not telling us to “purchase this product right now” but telling us that a company has questionable ethics.

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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.  

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

Never Underestimate The Power of Trust

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Trust is powerful. It is being recognized as a pivot point in business and a powerful catalyst for financial success. This updated Harvard Business review article connects trust with ROI and risk management:

A low-trust environment makes everything about doing business more difficult… loss of trust leads to higher transaction costs, lower brand value, and greater difficulty attracting, retaining, and managing talent. Ultimately, it can mean boycotts, negative publicity, and unwanted regulation.”

Beinhocker, Davis & Mendoca, 10 Trends You Have to Watch, HBR.org.

Trust is a Powerful Market Differentiator

A recent World Economic Forum report on the evolving role of trust in business describes the power of trust in the market:

“If these trust-rich, more resilient companies are the survivors of each period of turbulence, then they will come to dominate the market – and the model of the high-trust corporation will become prevalent.”

World Economic Forum, The Evolution of Trust in Business: From Delivery to Values

I like the term “trust-rich” because it describes the ability of trust to transform every corner of a business or organization. It also describes the positive financial impact that results from consistent trustworthy leadership.

Is your organization “trust-rich?”

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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.  

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

What Does it Mean to “Do the Right Thing?”

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

The “Keep it Simple” approach is good for many situations, but keeping it simple will set you up for failure in ethics. Using an oversimplified approach to solving a complex ethical problem just means you leave out variables you should be considering.

5 Reasons a “Do the Right Thing” Message Isn’t Enough

  1. Nobody knows what it means
  2. Even though it is positive, it is too vague to direct good choices
  3. Everyone defines it differently, and acts on their definition
  4. Unless you painstakingly define what you mean by “do the right thing,” there is no common understanding of ethical expectations across the organization
  5. A vague definition can be used to justify unethical choices that “seem right” when you’re not using an ethical framework

“Do the Right Thing” is a wonderful starting point, but we need to define it in great detail. Otherwise, people will do whatever THEY think is the right thing, and that could pull your organization off course.

Ethical leaders don’t just ask people to “do the right thing.” They share examples of people who have done the right thing. They explain ethical performance standards that define “the right thing” and bring it to life in discussions about how to handle competing interests. This approach keeps everyone headed in the same positive direction.

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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.  

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

Prevention or Cure? Your Choice

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Senior leadership teams and boards have a choice. In their ethics strategies, they can focus on either prevention or cure.

The cure approach is reactive and messy. You do the bare minimum required by law, wait for something bad to happen, and scramble to do damage control. Then you build an ethical support system (perhaps at the insistence of a regulatory body) to prevent it from happening again.

The prevention approach is proactive and positive, and it helps prevent those messy problems. You build the ethical support system up front, while things are going well.

Taking the “cure” approach seems easier when everything is going well, but all it takes is one highly visible mistake to pull the organization down in every way (in the media, in the stock market, in the eyes of customers, employees and partners…).

Here’s the most interesting thing I’ve discovered – Both the prevention and cure approaches require building an infrastructure that supports ethics in the organization. In the cure approach you choose to do it in the public eye, possibly under court supervision, while bleeding profusely from taking a hit to your credibility. In the prevention approach, you choose to do it now to prevent bleeding profusely in the future. 

Why should we choose prevention? It’s positive. Leading with positive ethical values builds trust and brings out the best in people, which brings out the best in the organization, which leads to great results. The cure approach leads to negative front page headlines, a tarnished reputation and poor organizational results. 

Prevention or Cure? Your Choice.

Top 100 Leadership Blog

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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.  

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

Great Leaders Are Other-Focused

By Linda Fisher Thornton

There are many important roles leaders play. The common thread through all of them is that leadership is about enabling the success of others. Leaders are supporters, developers, guides, team builders, and imaginers. They are culture caretakers, roadblock removers and inspirers. All of these roles require being other-focused. 

As leaders, we seek to bring out the best in individuals, the best in teams, and the best in organizations, pulling together diverse collections of people striving toward common goals. We create the conditions for success, we build trust and we model and reinforce ethical choices. Doing these things consistently enables those we lead to do their best work. 

How do we define our success as leaders using this mindset? It’s simple – Great leaders create the conditions for success, intentionally building trust and an ethical culture, enabling people to do their best work. Their best work fuels the economic and social success of our organizations. We succeed when they succeed. 

Top 100 Leadership Blog

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future. 

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

Click the cover to read a free preview!

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 
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