5 Things Money Can’t Buy (Even Now)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I had the opportunity a few years ago to hear Michael Sandel, professor from Harvard and author of What Money Can’t Buy, speak at the University of Richmond about “the sky-boxification of society.” He talked about how easy it is today to buy your way into a better situation (or a sky box). I just finished reading Tom Friedman’s book Thank You for Being Late and in it Friedman refers to and builds on Sandel’s observations. 

I started thinking about some of the qualities that are highly valuable and make leaders great that money can’t buy – some of the priceless qualities that define great leadership. Here are 5:

5 Things Money Can’t Buy (Even Now)

  1. Trust – (only achieved through intentional use of positive interpersonal behaviors that build mutually beneficial relationships over time)
  2. Integrity – (only achieved when thoughts, words and deeds align)
  3. Authenticity – (only reached through personal struggle, service to others and an intentional growth journey)
  4. Sincerity – (only achieved when you avoid lies, partial truths, rules that apply to others but not to you, and choices that harm others)
  5. Growth – (you can pay for education, but being open to learning and growth must be chosen)

Money may be a token of exchange in the global marketplace, but so are these 5 priceless leadership qualities that money can’t buy. It is these essential priceless qualities that enable leaders to bring out the best in diverse, connected groups of people working toward a common goal. These are leadership qualities that kindle people’s imagination, creativity and innovation (which are needed to solve today’s complex problems). 

What other positive qualities (that money can’t buy) define great leadership? Feel free to comment with your additions to the list. 

If you enjoy the Leading in Context Blog, here are 5 ways you can help this important movement: 

  • SPREAD THE WORD: Encourage others to subscribe, or share a link to your favorite post
  • READ THE BOOK: Get a copy of 7 Lenses, in  Paperback or for Kindle, iPad, and Nook. Share it with a friend, or with your Book Club or leader group. 
  • SCHEDULE A WORKSHOP: Help your team or organization gain insight into positive, proactive ethical thinking and action with a workshop led by 7 Lenses author Linda Fisher Thornton.
  • PARTICIPATE IN THE CONVERSATION: Engage in dialogue on social media. Imagine better leadership with others. Let people know what you’re learning. Include @leadingincontxt in your Tweets. 
  • SUGGEST A TOPIC: Suggest a future topic you want to learn more about by commenting on a blog post or contacting Leading in Context. 

Together, we can make a positive difference. 

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Ethical Leaders See Their Choices Through All 7 Lenses

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

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400th Post: The Journey to Meaning (Growth Required)

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

I set out to answer a question. In the process of answering the question, I started a journey that changed my life. It happened the way that life happens to all of us. It wasn’t always by conscious choice or in a logical progression. I lost someone I loved (my grandmother). I suffered a sudden reduction in consulting projects during the 2009 economic downturn. While recovering from these blows, I took a hard look at what I wanted to accomplish with the rest of my life. 

I began to realize that if I wanted to make a positive difference in the world, I needed to make some drastic changes. I started a blog and found out what it was like to learn out loud. I jumped into the social conversation. I began to intentionally live outside of my comfort zone.

I starting thinking about a nagging question that I couldn’t get out of my head. I heard from people who wanted to lead ethically but needed help. I started to write down thoughts on my blog and later started a book. I struggled to build a clearer, whole model of ethical leadership (that wasn’t oversimplified) to help people learn how to easily apply it.  

Looking back on this journey so far, I  believe that life’s hardest challenges are waiting to be turned into opportunities. Taking the journey isn’t always easy – it requires persistence, commitment, imagination, patience and endurance. When we put in the effort and take on the challenge,  though, we can become capable of so much more. We can find purpose and meaning (which require personal growth).

What would have been different if I hadn’t started this journey? I may have had a deep sense that something was missing. After reflecting on my definition of “The Meaning of Life” for an Excellence Reporter series, I realized that this process of growth is more than just something that happens while we’re doing other things – it’s what helps us find meaning and have a positive impact. 

It’s not reaching the desired destination according to an expected timetable that gives us a sense that we have a meaningful life. It’s the journey itself. It’s using our abilities in service to others.  It’s chasing the elusive “best we can be” as the world expects more and we race to keep up. 

I want to extend a “Thank You!” to Leading in Context Blog followers, 7 Lenses readers, clients, partners,  and all of you engaging in important conversations about “the right thing to do” in a global society. 

 

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Ethical Leaders Understand 7 Different Lenses of Ethical Responsibility (That Are All Important)

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

 

 

Do Good Things Come to Those Who Wait?


By Linda Fisher Thornton

I don’t particularly like the quote “Good things come to those who wait.” This quote, attributed to British author Violet Fane (Mary M. Singleton) in 1892, may be true but it leaves out important parts of the story. Good things may come to those who wait, but only after certain important conditions have been met:

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait (If They Also….)

  1. Work hard
  2. Use what they are learning to help others
  3. Keep working hard
  4. Improve but still keep learning
  5. Keep using what they learn in service to others
  6. Don’t give up, even when progress is slow and success is uncertain
  7. ….and so on (perpetually repeating numbers 1-6 above)

Doing these things keeps people in a service mindset, making it easier to wait for good things to happen. And, of course, while they are working diligently, they are not just waiting. Without the rest of the context, the quote seems to imply that just “waiting” is enough. 

What are your thoughts about the context of this quote? What other well-known quotes might be missing an important part of the story?

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Ethical Leaders See Their Choices Through All 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

 

 

 

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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A Practical Guide For Leading Through Complexity

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2017 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

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.

Click the book cover for a preview.

 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2017 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!

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

What Does it Mean to Win?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

What it means to “win” in business has changed. Driving this change is a greater awareness of the impact we have on each other:

  • A better understanding of our global connectedness
  • An awareness that laws aren’t ideal ethical standards, just punishment thresholds
  • A greater focus on human rights and dignity and human well-being
  • Increased attention on the well-being of communities

The message used to be “WIN at all cost” to achieve strong financial performance. Then we began to consider what happened to  other people when we “won at all cost” and “Win-Win” became the mantra. As we gradually became aware of our many stakeholders, “Win-Win-Win” looked better – paying attention to the triple bottom line, our impact on Profits, People and the Planet. 

When we consider our interdependence and the leadership context, the way we think about a “win” changes. 

Driving this change is also a greater awareness of the global context:

  • Our constituents are global, and our impact is global
  • We are part of a connected, global economy
  • We are experiencing dwindling natural spaces and increasing demand for natural resources
  • Global citizenship is a growing issue as we deal with border management and complex social issues
  • Leadership and ethical duties are inseparable if we are going to create a positive environment, locally and globally

The triple bottom line, a great improvement over “win at all cost,” is only the beginning. The future of work will require much more. Taking extended stakeholders and the broad responsibilities of corporate social responsibility into account, we are ultimately looking for a 7 Way Win. To learn more, see The Triple Bottom Line is Just the Beginning and 7 Definitions of “Good” (Why We Disagree About Ethics).

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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.  

 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

5 Insights Into Leadership Development Future (Part 3)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This is the third installment in a series “5 Insights Into Leadership Development Future” Each post in this series will address a trend in leadership development and offer tangible actions for helping leadersIn case you missed them, here are the previous posts:

Part 1 on Global Trends

Part 2 on Wholeness 

This third post in the series is about the trend toward growth and human developmen– that includes growth in leadership and growth toward becoming a better person. 

We are talking more about the benefits of growth, and there is an awareness that people become better leaders through experience, travel, challenge and struggle. Here’s the bottom line –

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

The leader who grows is:

  1. More self-aware
  2. More humble
  3. More willing to adapt
  4. More open to learning
  5. More supportive when others make mistakes as they are learning
  6. Better equipped to support others as they grow
  7. More likely to attract and keep great performers

Today’s leadership development must move away from “infusing people with knowledge” and focus on “helping them grow.”

5 Actions to Take Now

How do we apply the growth trend to the way we develop leaders? 

  1. Give them a sense of what human growth looks like, what it requires and the rewards of taking the journey. 
  2. Let leaders know that the goal is improvement, not perfection, and that they will make mistakes while they are learning (that is part of the learning journey).
  3. Give them clear values to aim for – this helps them orient their growth toward a higher purpose. 
  4. Give leaders activities that cause them to stretch and struggle to make sense out of things – take them outside of their comfort zones – prepare them to handle complex leadership challenges.
  5. Create experiences that expand their understanding of the world and help them understand the struggles of others (this is easier than it used to be – you can travel the world via YouTube).

More to Come: I will be continuing this series with more important trends in leadership development and actions you can take to help your leaders adapt.  Stay tuned for Part 4!

Top 100 Leadership Blog

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

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

Click the cover to read a free preview!

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

How Can HR Professionals Support CSR?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Sarah Hood included some of my advice to HR Managers about CSR in her feature article about Corporate Social Responsibility in the March/April 2016 Edition of HR Professional Magazine. In it she explores the role of the HR professional in supporting and advancing an organization’s CSR efforts.

According to the article, The Rewards of Giving Back: Corporate Social Responsibility and the HR Function, there are specific and important actions HR Managers can take to directly support their HR Professional The Rewards of Giving Backorganization’s efforts to “do good.” Successful support requires an awareness that CSR is important for the success of multiple stakeholders.  

Read the full article here:

The Rewards of Giving Back: Corporate Social Responsibility and the HR Function by Sarah Hood, in the March/April Issue of HR Professional Magazine.

 

 

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

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

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

Ethical Failures: What Causes Them?

By Linda Fisher ThorntonMSJ-160130-08

This week Leaderonomics.com published “Understanding and Preventing Ethical Leadership Failures” as its Hard Talk Leadership Pick of the Week.

This article explores ethical failures and their individual and organizational causes.

It answers these leadership questions:
  • What are the intentional and unintentional causes of ethical failures?
  • What do you do when a senior leader isn’t meeting ethical expectations?
  • What culture gaps can lead to ethical failures?

Read the full article at Leaderonomics.com for answers to these important questions (Get an infographic-style version of the article by clicking the red PDF download button).

Why are the answers to these questions important for us to know if we want to build an ethical workplace? Understanding what causes ethical failures can help us build a more robust infrastructure for preventing them. 

 

2016 Top Thought Leaders

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

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

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

Let’s Talk About Trust

By Linda Fisher Thornton

 

In January of each year, Trust Across America-Trust Around the World makes a big thought leaders announcement. This week I was informed that I am one of the 2016 Top Thought Leaders in Trust! 

2016 Top Thought LeadersIt is an honor to be included among many well-known academics, authors  and consultants who forward the trust movement.

To celebrate this honor, I am sharing a collection of blog posts about trust building. They cover what trust is, why we should build it, and what actions and behaviors support it. I hope you’ll use them to have leadership conversations about how to improve the trust in your workplace.

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What is Trust?

Trust is a Relationship (Not a Commodity)

10 Things Trustworthy Leaders Know

Trust-Building Requires Trust-Giving                                                                       

Why Should We Build Trust?

5 More Reasons to Pay Attention to Trust

The Power of Trustworthy Leadership

Ethics and Trust Are Reciprocal

What Actions and Behaviors Build Trust?

10 Things Trustworthy Leaders Do

Building Trust: What to Weed Out

50 Ways to Lead For Trust (Part 1)

50 Ways to Lead For Trust (Part 2)

50 Ways to Lead For Trust (Part 3: The Last 20)

Trust transforms. hope these posts help you champion the deep level of trust that positively impacts people and organizations. 

2016 Top Thought Leaders

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

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

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

50 Ways to Lead For Trust (Part 3: The Last 20)

 

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

This post is the third in a series on 50 Ways to Lead For Trust. Part 1 included numbers 1-15. Part 2 gave you 15 more, and this post includes the final 20 Ways to Lead For Trust.

Here are 20 more ways that you can build lasting trust through your daily leadership: 

31.  Ask What Keeps People From Success, and Remove Their Roadblocks

32.  Involve the Team in Charting Its Own Course For the Future

33.  Share the Credit

34.  Take Responsibility50-Ways-to-Lead-For-Trust

35.  Be Inclusive

36.  Support People’s Overall Well-Being

37.  Encourage Cooperation

38.  Bring Out Their Potential

39.  Promote Responsible Business

40. Trust Others To Do Great Work

41.  Require Respectful Interpersonal Behavior

42. Help People Handle Complexity

43. Ask Them to Work Smarter, Not Harder

44. Avoid Harm to Constituents

45. Do Good Works in the Community

46. Involve People in Service to Society

47. Be Positive and Proactive

48. Be Fair

49. Recognize Others

50. Make Work Meaningful and Rewarding

Use the 50 Ways to Lead For Trust to give yourself a “Trust Checkup.” Looking at these 50 actions, what will you choose to do TODAY to build a high-trust workplace where everyone can do great work?

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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.

 

 

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

We’re All Padawan Learners

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

With the new Star Wars movie being released this month, my family and I recently watched all six of the original Star Wars movies in one week. It was an intense movie marathon, and watching them all in the order they were released gave us a unique perspective. 

Have you ever noticed that no matter how many times the forces of good overcome the forces of evil in the Star Wars movies, there is always another challenge? There is never a moment when the characters “arrive” and are exempt from ethical challenges. They can never let down their guard.

Why? Because power can corrupt or it can be used for good. In the six original Star Wars movies, we see what happens when a Padawan learner (Luke) is humble and stays the course, always open to learning. We also see what happens when a Padawan learner (Vader) thinks he has “arrived” and is no longer willing to learn from others. 

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.

The surprising truth is that we are all also teachers. Others are watching our choices and learning from us. 

As others observe our choices, how will they see us choosing to use our power?

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

 
 
 
 
 
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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®
 
©2015 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

Do Differences of Opinion Set Off Your Threat Detector?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Differences of opinion can be inconvenient and uncomfortable. We may be in a discussion with someone who has very different views from ours, on a topic of great importance to us. How we handle it shows others the inner workings of our character.

We have all been in conversations with people who are open to hearing what we have to say and those who are not. When we perceive an idea as a threat, it may be a signal that we are CLOSED to learning. And that may lead us right into unethical territory, to disrespectful interpersonal behavior. 

As you review these descriptions, think about your recent conversations. Was the other person OPEN or CLOSED to learning? Did they perceive a difference of opinion as a threat or an opportunity to learn?

Sees a Difference of Opinion as a Threat

  • Different ideas are direct threats to my position
  • When we disagree, only one of us can be right
  • Listening to dissenting opinions is dangerous and should be avoided
  • People who disagree with my position should be belittled and put in their place to reduce their power

Sees It as a Learning Opportunity

  • Different ideas are opportunities to learn
  • When we disagree, we might both be describing different parts of a bigger concept
  • Listening doesn’t mean we have to change our beliefs, but we are open to that if it happens
  • Listening to dissenting opinions increases our understanding of issues we care about

Ethical leadership requires us to respect people and differences of perspective even when those differences may make us uncomfortable. 

Override your threat detection system when you hear information that goes against your current views.

If differences of opinion set off our “threat detection” system and make us angry, that may be a sign that we are closed to learning. I have noticed over the years that perceiving the ideas of others as a threat is signal that we need to listen. 

This week, notice what sets off your threat detection system, and see what you can learn when you choose to override it and remain open to learning.

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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.

 

 

Subscribe to the Leading in Context Blog! Weekly posts help you navigate ethical complexity and prepare for the future of leadership.

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

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

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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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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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©2015 Leading in Context LLC

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