15 Quotes For Leadership Insight

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

About once a year I like to gather up important quotes from the Leading in Context Blog and compile them into a post for readers who like quotes! See if you can find inspiration in these quotes about authentic ethical leadership – what it is, how to think about it, and how to do it. 

Each quote includes a link that takes you to the post that featured it. 

“Ethical leadership is much closer to home than we may readily admit. It isn’t somewhere ‘out there’ at all – it is us, right here and right now.  It is in our deeply-held values. It is in our day-to-day choices.  It is in our quest for good.”

“Growth may be difficult, but there isn’t any other way to fully embrace ethics. We must grow into our ethical competence…intentionally…over time. When we are tempted to take a shortcut and think about ethics as a class or a theory, we should remember this: The “body of knowledge” isn’t going to need to make tough ethical choices. We are.”

“When we are not open to learning, we can easily misinterpret another perspective that does not match our own as a threat.”

What is the most positive reason of all to care about creating an ethical culture? We get to help people learn to make positive choices based on ethical values before they have problems (instead of just cleaning up ethical messes when it’s too late).

“Positive leaders stay grounded in ethical values and use a human growth mindset. They are fixed and flexible at the same time, never straying from ethics but always willing to change with the times.”

“I believe that we gain an understanding of the whole picture by taking in a broad array of information in the course of our lives. Without that kind of awareness, we are destined to understand the small pieces but miss the connections and the greater meaning.”

“Failing to prepare leaders for what they’ll face is not just potentially bad for their success, it’s also an ethical problem for their employees and for the organization. Without tools for handling complex challenges, people may make more mistakes than they need to. Some of those mistakes can be costly to the leader’s future and the organization’s reputation.”

“Trust is a hot topic and a valuable business enabler. The organizations that will adapt and succeed in the future make it a business priority.”

“The question about profit’s place in ethical leadership is a good one. At its best, ethics requires setting aside concerns about money and personal gain and doing what is best for others. But business leaders also have to keep their organizations afloat, and that requires thinking about money.”

“To make the boundaries of ethics clear, we need to explore the borders and grey areas. Trying to make things CLEAR and keeping them SIMPLE are not at all the same.”

“Competence is a critical part of responsible leadership. We may miss some steps along the way and make mistakes as we learn, but we should always make it a priority to stay competent.”

“Ethical values by definition are positive and they often require that we stretch outside of our own interests to respect, protect, serve and help others.”

“Ethical thinking means we never lose sight of our positive purpose. We choose to be the sum of our values, not our challenges.”

We are all Padawan learners on the ethical journey. We are subject to making mistakes, and we must continually learn to stay ahead of our ethical challenges.

27881-068-Edit-003My mission is to Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®. Each of these posts was written to help you bring out the best in your leaders and your organizations. Which one of these 15 insights do you find the most inspirational?

Top 100 Leadership Blog

axiombronze

 

 

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.

 

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

Ethical and Unethical Sales Leadership: What’s The Difference?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Unfriendly Sales Techniques 

Times are still tight for consumers and salespeople are concerned about their jobs. It seems that is more tempting now than it would be in a booming economy to use high-pressure tactics or other unfriendly approaches in order to get business.  And pushy, unfriendly sales techniques stand out even more in difficult economic times. Customers will go out of their way to avoid companies that use them.

Some unfriendly approaches that I have observed recently include:

  • More cold calls than usual
  • People ignoring “no soliciting” signs
  • People who won’t stop talking when you politely say that you’re not interested
  • People who continue to try to sell you additional services before taking the time to resolve a problem that you’ve called about

What’s the Difference Between Ethical and Unethical Selling?

See if you can relate to these descriptions of ethical and unethical selling, and take a moment to consider the important leadership questions that follow.

Unethical Selling

Selling my product (even if you don’t want it).

Ignoring the boundaries of privacy and space and being blind to our negative impact on the customer. 

Talking or pushing my way in. Lying or over promising and failing to deliver.

“You buy it and I make money. Since I was pushy, you don’t ever want to see me again.”

Ethical Selling

Meeting your need, if I can with my services.

Sharing information that is helpful to my customer. No strings.

Respecting boundaries and customer wishes.

Building trust. I meet my sales goal by how well I meet the needs of my customers.

“Since I was helpful, you are likely to buy more from me and refer friends.”

Which Kind of Selling Is My Team Using?

While pushy sales techniques may generate business in the short run, customers are quick to share negative experiences on social media and will caution their friends against dealing with people who try to “get the sale at all cost.” They realize that unethical sales people are trying to gain at the expense of their customers.

Ethical salespeople, on the other hand, focus on building trust over the long-term. They want to help their customers succeed and can see past “just the money” to provide a real service that makes people’s lives better. In taking the high road, they generate successful results for themselves, their customers and their organizations. Which sales approaches are your salespeople using?

Sales Leaders – Ask Yourselves These Important Questions:

1. Have I ever been aware of my staff using approaches that are unfriendly or dishonest, and not asked them to stop?

2. Have I set up a reward system that may lead sales people to use unethical approaches in order to get short-term rewards?

3. How can I be sure that my team understands that I want them to meet customer needs with our product instead of using unfriendly, high-pressure approaches?

4. How can I convey more clearly that being  respectful is part of the ethics of selling?

Top 100 Leadership Blog

axiombronze

 

 

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

Includes case examples and questions.

 

 

 

LeadinginContext.com   Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

 

Leadership Development S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-S To Prepare for the Future

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

In a recent post, I acknowledged that “leaders face information overload, globalization and increasing complexity. And they hold the key to your organization’s future. Make it a priority to help them be ready.”

How can we prepare leaders to succeed in a socially and globally connected world? What are the strategies that will help them handle a wide variety of unpredictable situations while making ethical choices?

There are specific strategies that will help your leadership team prepare for the future. Organizations employing these strategies will help leaders S-T-R-E-T-C-H to stay on top of changing expectations.

BE CLEAR – KEEP IT RELEVANT –  GROUND LEARNING IN ETHICAL VALUES

To prepare leaders to make confident values-based choices, leadership development needs to be clear and based on positive ethical values. To make it worth the time spent participating, every aspect must be relevant to meeting their current challenges.

EMBRACE COMPLEXITY – HONOR LEARNING TRENDS – USE A GROWTH MINDSET

Leaders need support as they learn to embrace complexity (and seek meaning in an age of information overload).We will need to use a growth mindset, letting leaders know that we understand that learning to lead responsibly is a lifelong journey. We will need to honor learning trends and acknowledge that in many cases, leaders can be the architects of their own learning.

BUILD TRUST – WELCOME OPEN DIALOGUE 

Welcoming open dialogue about any aspect of leadership will help leaders feel comfortable asking questions. If we are going to make responsible leadership a way of life in our organization, we will also need to help them steep their leadership in mutual trust – which includes trusting others and being a trustworthy leader.

THINK AHEAD – PREPARE THEM FOR “LEADERSHIP FUTURE”

If we prepare leaders to handle today’s problems, that doesn’t mean they will be ready to handle the problems of tomorrow. The solution? Aim well ahead of the curve of change, to where the field of leadership is headed.

Leaders need a strong infrastructure grounded in ethical values and lots of opportunities for learning and conversation. With the pace of change accelerating, how does leadership development need to change? We must prepare leaders for where they’re going to be (not just where they are now) and help them stay competent in a rapidly changing world.

Learn More:

Changing Ethical Leadership Expectations

16 Trends Shaping the Future of Ethical Leadership.

11 Paths to Ethical Leadership Competence

Top 100 Leadership Blog

 

 

axiombronze

 

 

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

Includes case examples and questions.

 

LeadinginContext.com   Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

Imagining The Future Of Leadership

 

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Learning At 2,400 Tweets Per Hour

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to co-host the live #LeadWithGiants Tweetchat with @DanVForbes on January 19, 2015. The topic was “The Future of Leadership,” and the live chat trended on Twitter at about 2,400 Tweets per hour.

Many thanks to the #LeadWithGiants community members who participated in the discussion. Please note that I considered quoting individual Tweets, but there were so many good ones that I couldn’t narrow down which ones to feature! A link to the Tweetchat recap is provided below. Feel free to comment with more of your favorite insights from the conversation. 

During the Tweetchat, inspiring global voices weighed in on big questions, including these:

  • What will the future of leadership be like?
  • What is the best case scenario for the future of leadership?
  • How will we individually and collectively reach that best case scenario?

Envisioning Leadership Future

Here are some of the predictive insights shared during the discussion:

1. The future of leadership is globally collaborative and inclusive – communication, relationships and trust will be crucial.

2. Inspiring others through our leadership will not be about our words, it will be about our actions.

3. We will need to continually learn, stretch beyond our comfort zones, tackle complexity and adapt to rapid global change.

4. We will need to carefully balance our use of technology with maintaining human connections.

5. We must dig deeper and aim higher, taking daily steps to become the leader needed in a globally connected society.

6. We can take actions every day, no matter how small, to add value to the lives and work of others.

7. We must stand up for what is right, even when that perspective is unpopular.

8. Old rules will not apply and old mindsets will have to go.

9. We will need to deeply engage others in working toward shared goals, and develop them to be ready for future roles.

10. It will help to align ourselves with others who share this journey and provide positive support.

11. Without self-awareness, we will not succeed…

A Best Case Scenario

I believe that this is a possible best case scenario for the future of leadership:

When we say “leadership,” that term will include ethical responsibilities along with opportunities and benefits. “Leading” will be a positive term that will imply leading in the way that we want others to go, leading ethically, and leading in the way that creates a better future. With a clear picture of what responsible leadership looks like, unethical leadership will not be tolerated and will be less common. 

People who aspire to lead others will be drawn to the role by the opportunity to bring out the best in others (individually and collectively). 

Let’s actively create this best case scenario for the future of leadership through the choices we make today.

About the Tweetchat

A recap of “The Future of Leadership” #LeadWithGiants chat is here. Dan V. Forbes hosts #LeadWithGiants Mondays, 7 pm ET. 

My Journey: On April 1, 2010, I said the words ” I will never go on Twitter.” Later that same day, I started Tweeting. Read the story in my post “Leaders and Social Media: 5 Reasons to Engage.”

 

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™                  

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  7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
  2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
  About 7 Lenses
 
 
© 2015 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

Prepare Now For The Future of Leadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leading with positive values and demonstrating care are becoming expected ways of doing business. Leading now is not as much about leaders as it is about bringing out the best in those they lead and serve.

Part 3 of my book 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership tells the story of how our understanding of the purpose of leadership is evolving.

Excerpt from 7 Lenses (Chapter 8 – Getting Ready For the Future of Ethical Leadership):

Our understanding of ethical leadership is continually evolving due to changes in the world and to the efforts of champions of responsible business. This evolving understanding incorporates the natural complexity of the challenges of leadership and the broadening scope of the constituents that leaders serve. As we move from thinking about leadership as “transactional” to thinking about leadership for the “greater good,” we increase our understanding of our moral responsibilities to others, our companies, our societies and our world…

Leadership was once considered transactional, without much of a human element in it at all. This one-way mindset was essentially based on “Tell people want you need them to do.” Fortunately, the general thinking about leadership shifted to include a service role, which brought the all-important human element into it. Later, we began to understand leadership as having a positive and transformative effect on individuals, groups and organizations. In this evolution, leadership had moved from being about self to considering self and others.

After incorporating others in our understanding of leadership, we began to add a consideration of society. Through the Corporate Social Responsibility movement, leadership responsibilities are seen to include sustainability and community well-being. We are currently experiencing a powerful leadership movement to support the greater good of society…

These changes in our understanding of the purpose of leadership have happened slowly over time. Understanding them helps us stay ahead of the curve, to be better prepared to lead in ways that meet future expectations.

Thornton, L. F. (2013). 7 Lenses: Learning the principles and practices of ethical leadership. Richmond, Va.: Leading in Context.  (© 2013 Leading in Context, All Rights Reserved)

If we focus on meeting current leadership expectations, we may be caught off guard. Don’t wait. Prepare now for the global-minded, values-driven future of leadership.

Special Event:

On Monday January 19th, 2015, I am the Guest Co-Host for the #LeadWithGiants Tweetchat with @DanVForbes. Our topic is The Future of Leadership

Join us at 7:00 pm Eastern Time on January 19th!

               

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@leadingincontxt  @7Lenses
LeadinginContext.com
 
 
 
  7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
  2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
  About 7 Lenses
 
 
Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™   
© 2015 Leading in Context LLC

 

What is the Ultimate Goal of Leadership?

Goal of LeadershipBy Linda Fisher Thornton

What is the ultimate goal of leadership? This question seems simple enough at first, and then begins to get tricky because it can’t be answered in one simple statement.

  • Is the goal of leadership to provide direction and model the performance we expect from others?
  • Is it to respect and serve?
  • Is it to support others and remove obstacles?
  • Is it to teach and mentor?
  • Is it to help bring out the best in those we lead as we work toward a common purpose?

Of course, leadership is about all of those things and more. So what is its ultimate goal? Here are four very different ways of thinking about the ultimate goal of leadership.

Profit

Using the Profit perspective, the goal of leadership is to ensure that the organization makes a profit so that it can continue its work. A theme song for this perspective might be “For the Love of Money” by the O’Jays (theme song for the U.S. version of The Apprentice).

People

Using the People perspective, the goal of leadership is to bring out the best in people through respect and care, and continual support for their success.  A theme song for this perspective might be R.E.S.P.E.C.T” by Otis Redding, sung by Aretha Franklin.

Service

Using the Service perspective, the goal of leadership is to serve others in ways that uplift lives and communities. A theme song for this perspective might be Lean on Me” by Bill Withers.

Greater Good

Using the Greater Good perspective, the goal of leadership is making choices that ensure a good life for future generations. The theme song for this perspective might be We Are the World” by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie.

The question is not “Which one of these perspectives is right?” because they are all important ways of thinking about the goal of leadership. They are part of a bigger view that incorporates many dimensions of leadership responsibility. The question is “How can we honor all of them?” In my new book, 7 Lenses, I explore these concepts in a framework of 7 important perspectives on what responsible leadership includes.  A 7 Lenses Book Club Discussion Guide is available to help groups discuss what they have learned and how they can apply it for individual and organizational improvement.

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For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

 

Understanding (and Preventing) Ethical Leadership Failures

Ethical Failures

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Understanding What Causes Ethical Leadership Failures

Ethical leadership failures can be caused by different types of problems that may compound. Some of these problems are individual and others may be embedded in the organizational culture.

In 7 Lenses, I describe the kind of proactive ethical leadership that builds ethical cultures. The book is a road map for how to lead ethically in a complex world. While 7 Lenses is written from a positive perspective to help leaders avoid ethical problems and create ethical cultures, I often get asked “What causes ethical failures? What goes wrong?”

So this week I am exploring that question from two perspectives – that of what individual leaders do (or don’t do) and common organizational problems.

Individual and Organizational Causes

Here is a starter list of some of the factors that can lead to ethical failure. The list includes things that individual leaders do (or don’t do), and things that organizations do (or don’t do) to set a positive example and support ethical thinking and behavior.

These factors are connected, and it is often difficult to isolate just one of them when something goes wrong. See if you recognize any of these happening in your organization.

Individual

Ignoring  Boundaries (Ignoring Ethics Codes And Organizational Values That Forbid An Action)

Failing to Use Self-Control (“I Will Do This Even Though It’s Not Allowed”)

Entitlement View (“I Definitely Deserve This Even Though It’s Not Allowed”)

Prominent Personal Values (“I Think This Is Really Fine To Do Even Though It’s Not Allowed”)

Crowd Following (“Everybody Else is Doing It, So It Must Be Fine”)

Lack of Moral Compass (“Nobody Specifically Said That I Can’t Do It, So It Must Be Fine If I Do It”)

Organizational

Lack of Clarity (“What Does Ethical Mean Around Here?”)

No Ethical Leadership and Behavior Standards (“There Are No Rules About This”)

Oversimplified Rules (“Just Do the Right Thing”)

Lack of Positive Role Models (“Who Is Doing It the Right Way?”)

No Training or Coaching (“How Will I Learn It?”)

No Accountability, No Enforcement (“Nothing Bad Happens If I Do It, Even Though It’s Not Allowed”)

No Performance Integration (“We Say We Want Ethics, But We Reward and Promote Based on Sales and Output”)

When Problems Happen, Scapegoats Are Quickly Fired (Instead of Learning From Mistakes and Fixing the Culture)

Compounding Factors

Keep in mind that ethical failures may or may not be due to just one of these factors, but several that compound to create a ripple effect. Here are a few examples where the problem is worsened due to a combination of factors.

  • There are no ethical leadership standards and no positive role models (no way to be sure what to do)
  • A leader has an entitlement view and there is a lack of clarity about what ethical leadership means in the organization (it is easier to justify entitlement, when ethical expectations are unclear).
  • A leader lacks a moral compass and the organization lacks ethical leadership standards (the leader may act based on personal ethics, which may be slanted toward self-gain).
  • A leader has trouble with ethical boundaries and there is no accountability for ethical behavior in the organization (It increases the chances of ethical problems when both the leader and the organization lack clear ethical boundaries).

Problems within the ethical culture clearly make it harder for individual leaders to stay on an ethical path.

Preventing  (or Identifying and Correcting) These Problems in Your Organization

Now imagine what can happen when you have 3 or more of these factors (and perhaps others not named here) happening at the same time. Each additional factor can make it easier for problems to develop. Our goal as leaders is to prevent the problems that lead to a failure of ethical leadership. To do that we need to start talking about the dynamics that cause ethical problems and how to keep them from happening in our organizations.  How do we start the conversation? Talk candidly with leaders at all levels about issues named above that may have become a problem in your organization. For a detailed conversation guide, see Leading the Conversation About Ethical Leadership. For an understanding of how to manage ethical performance in the organization see Managing Ethical Leadership as a Performance System.

Feel free to name additional factors that you have observed that can lead to ethical failure in your comments. 

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For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

What is Ethical Leadership?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

What is ethical leadership? I have been exploring that question on the Leading in Context Blog for the last four years. This week, I’ve chosen some highlights from popular posts to illustrate what leading in a complex world requires of each of us.

Leading ethically in a global society requires much more than following laws and regulations. We must take on a global mindset, maintain an openness to learning, actively build trust, and so much more.

We must move away from a compliance mindset, and reach for a values-based mindset that considers much more (see the highest level on this three-level graphic).

Which of These is Ethical Leadership

Expectations Beyond Compliance and Laws

“Following laws and regulations is just above the punishment threshold for ethical leadership. Expectations are moving to a much higher level, a level at which we are expected to do much more. Look at the third level, the highest level of the graphic. Aren’t transparency, sustainability and honoring human rights now expected of all businesses? I believe they are, and there are other factors we need to consider that are not on this list. The minimum standard is gradually moving to a higher level as we better understand the impact of our choices on others in a global society.”       

Linda Fisher Thornton, Which of These is Ethical Leadership?

Openness to Learning

“When we are not open to learning, we can easily misinterpret another perspective that does not match our own as a threat. That perspective that we are actively arguing against may in fact reflect a more current, more advanced, or more ethical perspective than ours. Failing to acknowledge that there are other perspectives on an issue (and that the people who hold them have a right to their views as much as we do) shows a lack of respect, and a lack of awareness…”

Linda Fisher Thornton, Civility and Openness to Learning

Inclusion

“Managing diversity without inclusion as the ultimate goal can make a big difference in the way employees experience our organization. We choose a way of thinking that represents what we’re trying to do and then build a process/program/structure or measurement based on that foundation. If diversity is our way of thinking, we may get an approach based on “differences,” rather than one based on creating an inclusive culture where a diverse group of people can do their best work.”

Linda Fisher Thornton, Differences or Inclusion: Which Are We Focusing On?

Service and Care

“One of the elements of ethical leadership that may be overlooked when we view ethics using a “legal lens” is supporting and developing the potential of the people we lead. While many leadership ethics programs focus on the risk side of ethics – compliance with laws and regulations, avoiding lawsuits, etc., there is an equally important side of ethics that involves care.” Linda Fisher Thornton, Ethical Leaders Care

A High Trust Environment

“On the surface, it doesn’t seem that curiosity and imagination are related to ethics. But think about what would happen in an environment where people were not able to use them. Could employees still be relied on to consistently behave ethically in an environment where they were not engaged in their work, and where they did not feel respected or fairly treated?”

Linda FIsher Thornton, Curiosity and Imagination Necessary Ingredients in Ethical Business

A Global Mindset

“When we see the world as a global society, we see that we need to act as if what happens to others, even people we may never meet, matters. We all share space, food and natural resources. We also share international communication and transportation systems and a global economy. Thinking about our planet as home to a global society, it is clear that we must act as if what happens to the environment matters. Our survival is dependent on the limited resources we have available and how responsibly we use them.” 

Linda Fisher Thornton, Ethical Leadership and… a Global Society

Honoring Human Rights

“As leaders, we are expected to protect human rights in all that we do. In our quest to lead responsibly, we must continually consider the question “How do we need to change in order to better honor human rights?” If you are in the process of developing a corporate human rights policy, A Guide for Business: How to Develop a Human Rights Policy (UN Human Rights, Global Compact) is helpful in beginning the discussion.”

Linda Fisher Thornton, Honoring Human Rights is Essential

Staying ready to lead ethically in a globally networked world will require continual learning and a broad understanding of what ethical responsibility includes. Let’s get started…

 

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For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

Ethical Thinking is Intentional

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Some leaders think that they can continue to use outdated thinking about leadership responsibility. Beliefs like these, though, lead us to make bad choices when it comes to ethics:

  • “My success is all that matters. Everyone else is on their own.”
  • “Somebody has to lose for me to win.”
  • “I have been leading successfully for 20 years. I don’t need to change a thing.”

Ethical leaders don’t settle for the easy answers that offer them the most advantages. They intentionally take on tough questions like these:

  • “What do ethical leaders do every day that makes such a positive difference in their organizations?”
  • “How do we lead in ways that prepare us for the future and honor our ethical responsibilities?”
  • “How does the ethical leader of the future think?”
  • “Since our thinking drives our choices, what are the deep beliefs that will drive our leadership success in a connected global economy?”

This new Leading in Context Prezi presentation illustrates the intentional mindset of the ethical leader. Click HERE and then click on the screen to start the presentation.

Use the right arrow to move forward, the left arrow to move back. Take a look. Comment. Share it. Spread the word!

About Linda Fisher Thornton Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO of Leading in Context LLC. Her forthcoming book  7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership provides a clear road map for bringing out the best in people, organizations and communities through ethical leadership. Linda was named to the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America. 

 

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For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

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Leadership Responsibility: The Movement

LeadResponsMovement

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Taking Responsibility is “In”

We have reached a point in business where proactively taking responsibility as leaders has become a movement in its own right. We use many different words to talk about our leadership responsibilities.

Corporate Social Responsibility        Trust Building

          Sustainability             Character          Integrity

     Care                        Profitability                 Community Service      

Greater Good                  Ethical leadership        Compliance   

       Boundaries                 Impact                        Avoiding Harm

Leadership responsibility is multidimensional, and cannot be described in one or two words. It is personal, interpersonal, environmental and societal. Fortunately, that level of complexity is not stopping  leaders and organizations from taking the lead in demonstrating what it means to take responsibility in leadership. These articles describe the powerful movement toward proactively taking a high level of responsibility for our choices and our impact:

Understanding Our Impact

Our understanding of the purpose of leadership has evolved to include responsibility for a broad array of stakeholders over the long term. We have moved way beyond the command-and-control model. We now understand that our role includes bringing out the best in others and helping them achieve their potential while we all work toward the organization’s goals.

“Leaders of the future unleash human potential by instilling trust through authenticity, clarity of purpose and openness to continual learning. ”

–Giles Hutchins, Leadership for the future: diversity, creativity and co-creation, thegaurdian.com

We now are beginning to see the powerful impact that responsible leadership has on organizational performance, employee engagement and other important metrics. In the process of creating responsible organizations, we also help employees find meaning in their work.

“Values-led leaders help create emotionally and mentally healthy organisations, where business goals are met without sacrificing personal values.”

Corporate Social Responsibility: How the Movement Has Evolved Since the 1990’s by Paul Monaghan

We understand the importance of leading for the long-term and taking responsibility for our impact on others, the environment and society.

“If capitalism is to remain a healthy, vibrant economic system, corporations must participate in taking care of the society and the environment in which they live.”

Simon Mainwaring

Learning For Life

It is becoming increasingly clear that responsibility is not optional in a global society – it is at the heart of our leadership when we lead well.  Leadership development has become a critical priority as executives acknowledge the increasing complexity of leading in a global society. Leaders need help learning through this maze of terminology and leadership expectations.

This is an ongoing quest for leaders and for students preparing to be our future leaders. As Thomas Paine said, “When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.”

 

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For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

Building an Ethical Leadership Culture (Webcast)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

How Does Ethical Leadership Impact “Brand?”

Our “brand” is determined in part by our ethical leadership choices. These connected trends increase what is expected of us, and make it important for us to manage ethical leadership carefully:

  • In a socially connected world, our leadership is more visible
  • Citizen journalism means that everyone has a voice (and may speak out about their experience with our brand)
  • Employees are seeking out ethical organizations and agencies where they can do their best work
  • Organizations and agencies are judged based on the ethics of the entire supply chain
  • There is a higher expectation for ethical behavior and more pressure on leaders to lead responsibly

How Can We Develop Ethical Leaders Who Will Build an Ethical Brand? 

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

The Webcast includes:

2013Webcast

  • Three very different perspectives on ethical leadership
  • Specific strategies for developing ethical leaders and an ethical brand
  • Managing ethical leadership as a performance system rather than a program
  • Understanding many connected aspects of building an ethical culture

Viewing the Webcast

This Webcast will help C-Suite leaders and HR/Training professionals discover the answers to these questions:

  1. What exactly is ethical leadership?
  2. How does an organization’s ethical leadership impact its brand?
  3. How is moral development related to ethical leadership?
  4. How should ethical leadership training be connected to the performance management system?
  5. What can we do to build an ethical culture?

To learn more about developing ethical leaders, see the complete ASTD Webcast Developing Ethical Leader and an Ethical Government Brand at http://www.webvent.tv/webinar/572.

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For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

When is a Decision an Ethical One?

When is a Decision an Ethical One?By Linda Fisher Thornton

As we make leadership decisions, do we actively think about which ones are “ethical” decisions? Do we recognize the “ethical” decisions easily? Complying with laws and ethics codes clearly has ethical implications. But what about day-to-day decisions like these?

  1. “Who should we promote to a leadership position?
  2. “What kind of paper should we buy?”
  3. Which suppliers should we choose?”

These questions may seem routine, but they also have ethical implications. Let’s look at some of the ethical issues that we need to pay attention to when making these three decisions:

1. “Who should we promote to a leadership position?”  What are some of the ethical issues that we need to consider?

  • We should only reward ethical behavior during the promotion process.
  • We should only promote ethical employees to leadership positions, so that they can model the behavior that we want employees to use.
  • We should choose someone to promote who knows how to balance the needs of multiple stakeholders.
  • We should promote someone who uses respectful interpersonal behavior and knows how to build trust, so that they can help us build an ethical culture.

2. “What kind of paper should we buy?”  What are some of the ethical issues that we need to consider?

  • Should we buy recycled or partly recycled paper to reduce our environmental impact?
  • If we don’t use recycled paper, is the paper we choose sustainably harvested?
  • How does our choice need to support the sustainability goals of our organization?

3. “Which supplier should we choose?”  What are some of the ethical issues that we need to consider?

  • Does each supplier that we are considering use fair labor and honor human rights?
  • Does each supplier that we are considering use sustainable business practices and minimize environmental impact?
  • Does each supplier that we are considering demonstrate transparency about leadership practices?

The ethical issues listed above are only a sampling of the kinds of ethical issues involved in making these three decisions. Choosing suppliers, for example, requires checking reputation in more areas than just the ones mentioned here.

Ethical leadership in a global society incorporates so many broad elements of responsibility that most of our decisions will touch at least one of them. “Ethical” isn’t just a kind of decision-making. It is the way we need to think about all of our choices,  today and every day.

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For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

Dealing With Complexity in Leadership

SAMSUNGBy Linda Fisher Thornton

Dealing with work complexity has become a major leadership development issue. And it is a challenge that has ethical implications. As our work becomes more complex, so do our ethical dilemmas.

What is Thinking Complexity?

We may want to lead responsibly but still struggle to make ethical decisions in highly complex situations. It would help if we could develop the thinking skills to navigate those situations more easily. If we were prepared to think at a high degree of complexity, we would be better able to understand the organization and its challenges from multiple perspectives when making difficult decisions.

“If managers and leaders are to scratch beneath the surface and delve into the substance of their organizations, what is needed is “cognitive complexity” which can be defined as “the intellectual ability of a manager or leader to envision the organization from multiple and competing perspectives so as to develop a depth of organizational understanding that is at least equal to the factors impacting its functioning.”

Richard Jacobs, Analyzing Organizations Through Cognitive Complexity, Villanova University

Considering multiple perspectives in decision-making provides an advantage to leaders and organizations as they juggle competing demands. How can we prepare leaders to do that?

Preparing Leaders

We are going to need to improve our thinking skills to be ready to deal with the increasing complexity of work in our networked global society. According to Nick Petrie, Center for Creative Leadership, we will need a completely new approach to developing leaders in order to deal with the level of change that is coming.

“There is one thing that I have become certain of and that is that the methods that have been used in the past to develop leaders really, truly, categorically will not be enough for the complexity of challenges which are on their way for organizations (and broader society).”

Nick Petrie, Future Trends in Leadership Development, Center for Creative Leadership

The ability to think through complex problems clearly is an asset to individual leaders and to the organizations they serve. We need to find ways to help leaders develop this ability, and to do that, it helps to understand what it is that leaders with a high degree of thinking complexity do.

What Do Leaders With High Thinking Complexity Do?

As you review this list, consider how you can seek meaningful leadership development experiences that support these practices.

Think in Multiple Dimensions and in Relationships

“Persons who are high in cognitive complexity are able to analyze (i.e., differentiate) a situation into many constituent elements, and then explore connections and potential relationships among the elements; they are multidimensional in their thinking.”

Streufert, S., & Swezey, R. W. (1986). Complexity, managers, and organizations. New York: Academic Press, online at The College of St. Scholastica

Deal Well With Ambiguity and Contradictory Findings 

“There are numerous studies which suggest that individuals who have high cognitive complexity tend to be more tolerant of ambiguity, more comfortable not only with new findings but even with contradictory findings. Moreover, such individuals have a greater ability to observe the world in terms of grey rather than simply in terms of black and white.”

J. Rogers Hollingsworth, Knowledge, Communication and Creativity, University of Wisconsin-Madison, online at wisc.edu

Use Systems Thinking

“To meet the needs of requisite complexity, Knowledge Era leadership requires a change in thinking away from individual, controlling views, and toward views of organizations as complex adaptive systems that enable continuous creation and capture of knowledge.”

Uhl-Bien, Marion & McKelvey, Complexity Leadership Theory: Shifting leadership from the industrial age to the knowledge era, University of Lincoln-Nebraska

Intentionally Seek and Integrate New Information

“Complex people tend to be more open to new information, rely on their own integrative efforts than new information, seek more novel information, search across more categories of information, and are less externally information bound. They tend to take in more information and form more well rounded impressions than less complex persons.”

Streufert, S., & Swezey, R. W. Complexity, managers, and organizations. New York: Academic Press, online at The College of St. Scholastica

Connect Employees, Processes and Tools to Meet Goals

Ultimately, these women and men – armed with cognitive complexity and the skills and techniques associated with best practice – will manage and lead their organizations to achieve their goals by uniting people, technology and process in a more efficient and effective human way.

Richard Jacobs, Analyzing Organizations Through Cognitive Complexity, Villanova University

Simplify Complexity For Those They Lead

Those leaders of the units judged to be ‘most successful’ were not those who demonstrated the higher levels of systemic thinking but, rather, seemed able to simplify complexity for their teams.

Keith Normal Johnston, Complexity of thinking and levels of self-complexity required to sustainably manage the environment, thesis submitted to Australian National University

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 out 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.
To Learn More:
Capitalizing on Complexity (and Other CEO Reports), The IBM C-Suite Studies, ibm.com

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For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

Testimonials – Learn about the Leading in Context difference from satisfied customers, readers and fans!

 

Compliance With Laws Isn’t Ethical Leadership (There’s More)

12013CWord

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Beyond Compliance

I have intentionally avoided using the C-word (Compliance) in most of my posts, and I decided that it was time to explain why. In this post I’ll explain why laws are not enough, and why complying with laws does not mean that we are leading ethically.

Laws Are Not Enough

Many people equate compliance with ethics. Actually, compliance with laws is the minimum standard and does not adequately represent  “ethical leadership,” which is at a much higher level. Laws are the minimum threshold  – below which people are punished. When we settle for this level of ethics, we are simply working toward staying out of jail – and that is not enough to make us good corporate citizens.

Why is compliance with laws not enough when it comes to leading ethically? What else is there?

Here is an example that illustrates the broader responsibilities that ethical leadership includes. Which of these two views of ethical leadership do you think is the most ethical view?

‘Ethical Business’ Means Making as Much Money as I Can Without Going to Jail

If I tend to think in a win-lose way, then I may be more likely to seek gain for myself without concern for my impact on other stakeholders.

‘Ethical Business’ Includes the Responsibility to Respect and Serve 

If I tend to think in a win-win, service-focused way, then I may be more likely to seek positive solutions for others and consider my responsibilities to them more broadly.

Linda Fisher Thornton, Our Thinking is an Ethical Driver, Leading in Context Blog, December 12, 2012

Clearly, the second example demonstrates a higher level of ethical thinking and a broader sense of responsibility than the first. There are laws that say that I should not attack another person in the workplace. The ethical issues about how I need to treat others are at a much higher level than just restraint from physical violence. They include the need to respect others, demonstrate care and concern for them, and treat them with civility.

Learning Beyond Compliance 

Why don’t laws (that represent the “punishment threshold”) represent ethical leadership? Settling for compliance with laws might mean that we would not physically attack each other, but we may still be disrespectful in ways that erode trust and affect the well-being of employees, customers and other stakeholders.

If we focus just on compliance in our ethics training for leaders, we are aiming too low and we will always be scrambling to catch up as laws change. How can we move beyond just complying with laws (the minimum standard) to leading ethically in organizations (optimal)? These posts provide some guidance:

Developing Globally Responsible Leaders        Ethical Leadership Context

Developing the Ethical Leader of the Future

Instead of focusing on teaching leaders how to stay out of jail, let’s focus on teaching leaders what we want – the optimal level of ethical leadership.

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For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

13 Leadership Temptations (to Conquer in 2013)

10 Temptations

By Linda Fisher Thornton

13 Leadership Temptations To Conquer In 2013

We’re starting a new year, with fresh possibilities, and it is a good time to think about our leadership values. What do we believe? How do we treat others? What matters to us? Can people determine our values just by watching how we treat people?

As we think about how we want to lead this year, we need to recognize that it is tempting to make easy short-term decisions that end up having ethical consequences in the long run.  Sometimes those seemingly easy decisions are “easy” because

  • we have oversimplified them
  • we have only considered how our choice benefits us and have failed to consider its impact on others, or
  • we have ignored important ethical factors.

The 13 leadership temptations below are very real and we have all faced them. As leaders, it is our job to carefully resist them. To do that, we first have to admit that they exist and that they challenge us, and then we must decide to take positive actions.

We all have the capacity to do good and to do harm. Let’s resolve to do good and to resist these 13 Leadership Temptations in the New Year.

Resolve to Conquer These 13 Leadership Temptations in the New Year

  1. The temptation to think that “ethics” is just about words and not about our choices
  2. The temptation to attack people instead of attacking problems
  3. The temptation to choose “quick fix” solutions that do more harm than good in the long run
  4. The temptation to judge others, and to think that differences are a threat
  5. The temptation to treat others with disrespect
  6. The temptation to avoid change when we really need to adapt
  7. The temptation to think that rules and laws are for other people, not us
  8. The temptation to profit at the expense of others
  9. The temptation to blame other people instead of examining our role and taking responsibility
  10. The temptation to treat employees as commodities rather than as human beings 
  11. The temptation to ignore feedback that we don’t like
  12. The temptation to only read that which confirms what we already believe
  13. The temptation to do anything that sets a bad moral example for others

Author’s Note: This post was inspired by British ethicist Mary Warnock in her speech about scandals in the British Parliament, shared on Vimeo by The School of Life. 

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For more, see new book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

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