Ethical Leaders Take Time To Think

By Linda Fisher Thornton

What sets ethical leaders apart from other leaders? They take the time to THINK before making decisions. And that’s not all they do that sets them apart. While they’re thinking:

  • They’re listening to those they lead and seeking input
  • They’re intentionally learning about the nuances of the context
  • They’re wrestling with how to do the right thing

The Quick Answer Is Risky

While it may be satisfying for leaders to give QUICK answers to a complex problem, there are risks associated with those quick responses:

  • The quick answers may create more problems than they solve (because the context is not yet fully understood)
  • The quick answers may not be as polite or inclusive or respectful as they should be (because there’s no thinking process, which is necessary for managing emotions)
  • The quick answers reveal a leader’s lack of careful thinking (to those who did take the time to understand the context).

When ethical leadership is required, the QUICK answer is risky business. 

When is ethical leadership required? – Every moment of every day, on every project, in every role, while taking on every challenge and making every decision. 

Ethical leaders take time to think before acting in all of these moments. When they encounter a similar problem in the future, they still take time to think. They don’t assume they have all the information they need, because they know that the context is perpetually changing. 

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Prevention or Cure? Your Choice

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prevention or Cure? Your Choice.

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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.  

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LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

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