29 Flawed Assumptions About Leadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton I was pruning shrubs this week and it occurred to me that we have many mistaken assumptions about leadership that can lead us to make bad choices. Those flawed assumptions are like the deadwood we prune away from our plants in the spring. ...If we don't prune regularly, the deadwood affects our growth and success.

Are You Leaving a Positive Legacy? (10 Questions Across 5 Dimensions)

By Linda Fisher Thornton When we think about leadership in the "here and now" we tend to think about what will be most effective in the short run. When we think about our leadership over decades, though. we can turn our attention to the longer-term impact we have on others - our positive legacy. 

The Missing Domain: Ethical Thinking (Part 2)

By Linda Fisher Thornton The first post in this series, "The Missing Domain: Ethical Thinking" explored WHY leaders need to fill the gap and help people develop ethical thinking. This post will begin to unravel HOW to do that. I included this guidance on ethical thinking in a previous post: Ethical thinking means we never lose sight of our positive purpose. We choose to be the sum of our values, not our challenges.

Talking About What Matters (Part 3)

By Linda Fisher Thornton I have heard from readers that this topic is timely and they hope this series will not end with just 2 posts - so here is Part 3!  Talking About What Matters In the post Talking About What Matters (Part 1) I explored how talking about ethical values engages people, helps them find meaning and improves the organization’s metrics. In Talking About What Matters (Part 2), I explored how leaders need to "not have the answers" and be ready to engage in conversations about applying values.  In Part 3, I want to offer some questions that lead to meaningful conversation. These are not questions that have known answers, but questions that dig into what is weighing on people's hearts and minds, and identify gaps and opportunities in applying ethical values. 

Ethics-Rich Leadership: Why We Need It

By Linda Fisher Thornton I was originally going to used the words "ethics-infused leadership" in this post, but I realized that would treat ethics a little bit like a lime twist in a cold drink. The drink would hint of lime, but it wouldn't be FULL of lime. So I chose to use "ethics-rich" leadership instead. I think you may already be looking for the ethics-rich leadership I'm talking about. 

Ethical Leadership is About Service, Not Privilege

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 (who aspire to be) 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?

What Does “Good Leadership” Mean?

By Linda Fisher Thornton We need to talk openly with leaders about what "good leadership" means. Without those conversations, they might think it means making the sales numbers and meeting aggressive work deadlines, being knowledgeable when people come to them for help, or staying within budget. Those things are all important, but "good leadership" requires much more.

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.

5 Ways To Bolster Your Organization’s Ethical Immune System

By Linda Fisher Thornton I was thinking about organizational culture recently, and noticed an interesting parallel. Eating healthy foods, exercising and getting enough sleep all boost our individual immune systems. What actions can we take to boost our ethical immune systems? And how could doing that help us create more ethical organizations? Building a healthy ethical culture where people take steps to protect ethics and reputation takes intentional effort. It requires regular attention, similar to the way we must eat healthy foods and exercise daily to maintain our individual health.

Leader Development 2015: Human Growth Required

By Linda Fisher Thornton When we want to prepare leaders for success in the trenches of business leadership, we don't get very far by providing a cushy "spa-like experience." We can easily focus too much on creating "events" for leader education and…

Top 10 Posts 2014: Changing Ethical Leadership Expectations

By Linda Fisher Thornton There were 52 Leading in Context blog posts published in 2014, and the ones isted below are the 10 that were most popular with readers. They are focused on learning proactive ethical leadership and building a high-trust culture. If I had to describe the theme of these posts it might be "learning how to keep up with changes in ethical leadership expectations." As you review these reader favorites, think about how you will adapt to changing ethical leadership expectations in 2015.

Using Negative Examples to Teach Ethics? Why It’s Not Enough.

By Linda Fisher Thornton How many times have we tried to teach people about ethics by explaining every detail of what it doesn't look like? We describe laws and regulations and ethics guidelines in great detail, then ask attendees if there are any questions. After learning in great detail how to stay out of trouble, the thought on their minds may just be "Okay, now I know what NOT to do." We can't teach ethics by giving people negative examples.

13 (Culture-Numbing) Side Effects of Toxic Leadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton A reader commented on the post Can A Toxic Leader Be Ethical? Yes and No requesting more information about the organizational side-effects of toxic leadership. If you have ever worked for a toxic leader (myself included) you have already experienced the powerful negative side effects first-hand. When people are treated as "less than human," "less than capable" or as "pawns in a game" some extremely negative things happen in the organization that derail its success. Attempts to control what people do and say makes them feel inadequate and unappreciated. Withholding information to preserve power creates an environment of suspicion.

Is Your Leadership Net Positive?

By Linda Fisher Thornton Generating an intentional positive ethical impact is the successful ethical leadership of the future, and it's already here. The Forum For the Future describes it as net positive leadership - making a positive contribution to society and leaving things better than we found them.