The “Less Than” Fallacy

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Anytime we think about another person or group as “less than,” or treat another person or group as “less than,” we are unethical. It’s very simple, really. We are all human, and as humans, we all have rights and dignity. We all have a right to be here and to be treated with respect and fairness. 

Attempts to portray others as “less than” may come from a desire for power, control or personal gain. They may stem from trying to overcome low self-esteem by imagined superiority. They may come from misinformation. They may come from having lost one’s own sense of humanity. 

In the past year, people have protested by the millions around the world to say “Enough.” The diverse groups that have gathered around the world want us to hear that, wherever it comes from, the “less than” fallacy has run its course. It is not part of who we are when we are at our best. It is not part of our successful future.

Treating people as “less than” makes it more difficult for them to fully contribute to society in ways that benefit us all. It’s time to get past a “less than” mentality, recognizing it as flawed thinking, so that we can focus our attention on mutual understanding. That would brings us “more than” the capacity we need to resolve our current global challenges. 

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Ethical Leaders See the Whole Picture

Includes case examples and questions.

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2017 Leading in Context LLC

 

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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What is the Current State of Business Ethics?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

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

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

 

Let me know your thoughts after you watch the video.

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

Includes case examples and questions.

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

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Ethical Leadership is a “Fear-Free” Zone

By Linda Fisher Thornton

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

5 Reasons Fear Has No Place in Leadership

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

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

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

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

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

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

Includes case examples and questions.

Click the book cover for a preview.

 

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

117 Trends to Watch in 2017

By Linda Fisher Thornton

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

117 Trends That Should be on Your Radar in 2017:

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

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

7 Leadership Development Trends, Forum

5 Consumer Trends for 2017,Trendwatching.com

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

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

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

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

7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2017, Forbes.com

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

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

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

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


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

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

Includes case examples and questions.

Click the book cover for a 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.

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

 

 

Is Our Ethics Who We Are Or What We Do?

 

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This week’s question is about what defines our ethics – “Is our ethics based on who we are or what we do?” Some people would argue that we have a persona, a manner, that is either ethical or not. Others would say that it is our decisions and actions that define how ethical we are, and therefore our ethicality changes from moment to moment.

Instead of trying to decide which perspective is right, we would be well advised to take our lead from Aristotle. He conveyed in his famous quote “we are what we repeatedly do” that our ethical persona and actions cannot be separated. 

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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

 

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

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The first post in this series addressed ACCOUNTABILITY. The second asked you to evaluate your IMPACT. These four ways to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good) focus on MANAGING THE SYSTEM.

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)?

Manage the System

  1. COMMUNICATE OPENLY ABOUT ETHICAL ISSUES: Are ethical expectations clear and widely communicated? Does widely communicated include open conversations about grey areas? If not, start those conversations, framing them as important ways to change the ethics quo and improve the organization. 
  2. BRING ETHICS TO LIFE: Does ethics have a life beyond procedures and the shelf full of ethics manuals? Are the materials readable and relatable so that people can succeed in applying them? Are they current? Are they followed? If not, find ways to bring ethics to life so that people know it’s “the way we do things” and not “that binder on the second shelf.”
  3. REWARD ETHICAL CHOICES: Is ethical behavior rewarded just as much as financial profitability (in promotions, awards and public recognition)? If not, the message of your ethics system is “we are ethical unless it interferes with making money.” Get it straight by making ethics at least as important as (or more important than) profits.
  4. INTEGRATE ETHICS INTO EVERYTHING: Is ethics an integrated part of all training and performance management instead of being “separate?” If ethics training is separate that may give the impression that ethics can be separated from good performance and good leadership. If performance is rewarded based on results and not ethics, you’ll get results without ethics. Make sure that ethics is a thread woven through every learning experience for every audience and through the fabric of your culture. 

We may think that things are going well when there are no major problems, but that’s a “false reading” for ethics. Without prevention and taking the steps recommended in this series, we will be “putting out fires” and cleaning up damage to our organization’s reputation. Don’t wait for that to happen. This week, work on these important ways to MANAGE THE SYSTEM.

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

Leaders: Can Rights and Responsibilities Be Separated?

There-is-a-growing

By Linda Fisher Thornton

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

Rights Without Responsibility?

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

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

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

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

 

 

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? – Part 2

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The first post in this series addressed ACCOUNTABILITY. In this second post we’ll take a look at IMPACT.

Here are 3 ways to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good) that improve the impact of your organization and your leadership. 

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)?

Improve Your Impact

  1. BE DEEPLY COMMITTED TO DOING GOOD: Take a hard look at the positive impact your organization is having in the communities you serve. Does the total impact say “deeply committed to doing good” or “trying to appear good?” Move toward “deeply committed to doing good” with intention.
  2. MAKE COMMUNITY SERVICE PART OF YOUR DAY TO DAY MISSION: Identify at least one important way that you are improving the communities you serve. If we stopped associates on the way in to work, would they all know what it is? If not, start the conversation and make the commitment today.
  3. COMMIT TO OFFERING SINCERE MUTUAL BENEFIT – FOR ASSOCIATES, COMMUNITIES & THE ORGANIZATION: Does the way you are improving communities also benefit your associates? Do they find meaning in volunteering their service and do you support them doing that during paid work hours? If not, make the financial commitment that backs the message and shows you care about associate AND communities.

Having a net positive impact on the communities we serve is an important part of good leadership, and our stakeholders will notice our efforts. 

Watch for more ways to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good) in the next post in the series!

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

 

Ready To Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? – Part 1

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Each day brings new challenges for leaders. They struggle to deal with uncertainty and complexity and sometimes the most ethical choices are not obvious. In this kind of environment, we can’t assume that things are going well even when there are no lawsuits or imminent ethical crises. What we need to do is build an ethical workplace that will discourage ethical problems.

The focus of this week’s post is on Ways to Improve Accountability For Ethics. Here are 3 ways to avoid relying on the status quo – that also help you “do good” in your organization, community and world. 

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)?

Improve Accountability For Ethics

 

  1. EXPECT MORE FROM SENIOR LEADERS: Think of several examples of senior leaders who were coached, penalized or fired for ethical violations. If you can’t think of any, does that mean your organization prevents problems or lets senior leader infractions slide by? Always hold senior leaders to the highest standards since they model what others throughout the organization should do.
  2. HAVE ALL LEADERS MODEL AND REWARD ETHICAL ACTIONS: Keeping in mind corporate ethics policies and company values, examine what leaders are making important by their actions.  What are they doing? What are they holding people accountable for? Make sure that ethical decisions and actions are modeled and rewarded.
  3. SEE YOUR CEO AS THE “ULTIMATE ETHICS OFFICER”: Take a careful look at who is responsible for ethics in your organization. Is it just the compliance officer and HR Manager? It is the CEO and 1 or 2 other managers? Or is it every manager and every associate? Make sure that everyone is responsible, and be sure that the CEO is actively playing the role of the “Ultimate Ethics Officer.”

These 3 ways to change the ethics quo improve accountability for ethics. Are you ready for MORE actions you can take to move your organization toward ethical prevention and practice? Stay tuned for new posts in this series!

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

Building Trust: Paradoxical Qualities to Cultivate

 

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

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

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

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

Be Dependable and Open to Change

Be Fully Present Right Now and Think Ahead

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

Be Confident and Humble

Be Decisive and Flexible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

5 Signs Your Culture is FAILING

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

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

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

5 Signs Your Culture is FAILING

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

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

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

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

What Is Organizational Integrity?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Individual integrity is the full alignment in what a person thinks, says and does. Taking that concept to another level, this post will explore the question “what is organizational integrity?”

Clearly, organizational integrity is broader than individual integrity, but what does it include? It seems to me that taking the concept of individual integrity to the organizational level, organizational integrity would mean full alignment in what an organization thinks, says and does.

When an organization demonstrates full alignment, all company messages, actions, decisions, leadership and rewards align. It’s not enough to just ensure alignment, though, because alignment without values can lead an organization away from ethical decisions and actions.

Messages, actions, decisions, leadership and rewards  must be aligned around positive ethical values that the entire organization supports.

This positive values-based alignment in what an organization values, says and does creates the scaffolding for an ethical culture. What does your organization say it values? How consistently does it live out those values in daily practice?

If your leaders are all perfectly clear about which high level ethical values to uphold and how to demonstrate them, you are probably incorporating complexity into your leadership development. You are also probably providing leaders with the level of detail about ethical values that they need to navigate through information overload, constant change and demands from multiple stakeholders. If not, you may be rolling the dice by taking an “I’ll know it when I see it” approach to ethics.

Linda Fisher Thornton, “What Is Integrity?: Beyond I’ll Know it When I See It”, Leading in Context Blog

Leaders are the key to values alignment – they model and reinforce values and hold people accountable for following them. Organizational integrity (at its most effective) is what happens when leaders consistently immerse an organization in positive ethical values and align all leadership, actions, decisions, messages, and reward systems accordingly.

 

 

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

 

 

What Does it Mean to “Be a Leader?”

What-Does-it-Mean-to-Be

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leadership is not about being “in charge” or standing “at the front of the room” or “exercising personal power.” Authentic ethical leadership flips that paradigm. 

The authentic ethical leader is:

  • Standing beside, encouraging, supporting, guiding
  • Standing in the back offering encouragement
  • Stepping aside when people are capable of doing the work without support
  • Stepping forward to remove obstacles and clear the path for success
  • Taking responsibility and sharing credit
  • Being available and ready to help

This is the work of leadership.

Do not be fooled by someone trying to use power for personal gain. Bottom line — If it’s loud, self-serving and egotistical, it’s not leadership. 

 

Top 100 Leadership Blog

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

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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