Fear is a Poor Advisor (Moving Us Away From Ethical Thinking To Protect Us)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

When we make decisions based on FEAR, our brains switch on the lower-level processor – which makes decisions based on a FIGHT-OR-FLIGHT response. The decision-making power of that part of our brain is extremely limited, turning our thoughts to lower level responses like “RUN!” or “HIT THEM FIRST.” Obviously, ethical decisions must be based on better thinking than “RUN” and “HIT THEM FIRST.”

Fear is a Poor Advisor

Our fear response takes us into PROTECT and DEFEND mode, and that mode causes us to shelter in place, retrench and protect our own interests. It drastically restricts the breadth of our thinking and doesn’t give much energy to thinking about our impact – what our choices will do to others.

Fear may generate feelings of anger as we turn our energy to “protect and defend.” Anger, like fear, is a poor advisor that pulls us away from ethical choices. 

“Anger results in systematic processing of anger-related information and selective use of
heuristics to evaluate information… This kind of processing is less than optimal for making ethical decisions because it induces biased, risky, and retaliatory thinking (Moons & Mackie, 2007).This type of encoding and use of social information results in alimited, self-focused interpretation of the situation, which has the potential to result in retaliatory or self-serving behaviors.” (Lenhart & Rabiner, 1995).

The Influence of Anger, Fear, and Emotion Regulation on Ethical Decision Making, Human Performance,Vol. 26, Iss. 4, 2013
According to the University of Lausanne video, Unethical Decision Making in Organizations“Fear is an emotion that works at high speed without involving reason. “  “Fear… may ultimately lead to ethical blindness.” In a way, it’s like snow blindness, when you can only see snow in all directions and lose your bearings. When the dominant emotion is fear, people lose their ethical grounding and may quickly wander away from the organization’s values. It’s not a conscious choice, since their brains have automatically switched to lower-level decision making to protect them from real or perceived harm. Fear creates a blindness that blocks our ability to see past the immediate threat. 
Ethical Leadership is a Fear-Free ZoneGreat leaders build trust and work hard to remove fear from the workplace. We know that fear works against efforts to maintain an ethical culture. Creating a fear-free zone should be a top leadership priority in organizations wanting to protect reputation and ethical brand value. 
Ethical Thinking is Intentional.Before you make key decisions this week, be sure fear isn’t blinding you to ethical consequences. To make sure it doesn’t happen to others, take the time to talk with your team. Ask them “Are we working in a fear-free zone?” “What could we do to improve?” “How well are we staying grounded in the ethical values our organization says are important?”

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Special 5 Post Series Celebrating the Second Printing of 7 Lenses

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 1)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 2)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 3)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 4)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 5)

 

© 2018 Leading in Context LLC

Leaders, Why You Need Disequilibrium (Part 2)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This post is Part 2 in a series. In case you missed the first one, here is 450th Post: Leaders, Why You Need Disequilibrium (Part 1). In the first post, I explored why leaders need to embrace disequilibrium. In Part 2, I explore how disequilibrium helps leaders deal with catastrophic change.

Disequilibrium Drives Adaptation

Accepting disequilibrium instead of trying to fight it, we can turn our attention to figuring things out as the landscape changes around us.

“Pulling us out of our insulated silos.  Requiring leaders to seek out the signals reverberating out of these shifts, continually deciphering and determining what these signals are saying and asking ‘What you are going to do about it?'”

dculberh.wordpress.com, Transforming Tension and Disequilibrium Into Breakthrough Experiences

Deciphering the signals of a changing system, environment, organization and world keeps us on our toes. It helps us keep up with catastrophic change and still make good leadership choices. It helps us adapt instead of retrench when we face rapid change.

It Helps Us Navigate Perpetual Uncertainty

Change is not something we can prevent, or even”manage” in the traditional sense. Embracing disequilibrium helps us move forward, adapting our approaches and strategies to better “navigate the uphill terrain of perpetual uncertainty.”

5 Questions 

Use these 5 questions to check how well you are responding to disequilibrium:

  1. How deeply am I embracing disequilibrium?
  2. Where could I be fighting it, causing more difficulty than is necessary for myself and others?
  3. If I admitted that my earlier definition of “normal” was no longer possible, how would I think and lead differently?
  4. How will I carry out the improvements described in my answer to #3?
  5. How will those changes improve my leadership and the performance of my teams?

Subscribe to the Leading in Context Blog For a New Article Each Week!

 

Top 100 Leadership Blog

Special 5 Post Series Celebrating the Second Printing of 7 Lenses

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 1)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 2)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 3)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 4)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 5)

 

© 2018 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

Will 2018 Be The Year?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

As a global community, we have learned some things this year. Business leaders have learned that ethical leadership transforms organizational metrics. Global citizens have learned that values are the most important defining characteristics of nations, and if we don’t operate from a base of values we descend into conflict and chaos. 

Perhaps 2018 will be THE YEAR. Maybe based on everything that has happened this year, it will be the year we: 

  1. Agree on values first, then on operational details
  2. Lead from understanding and collaboration rather than a quest to “win” at others’ expense
  3. Select leaders who are grounded in ethical values and know how to apply them in every context
  4. Raise the bar on ourselves as the world changes, to stretch and grow into rising ethical expectations
  5. Reach out instead of lash out

As we head into the holiday season, I wish you great joy, peace and understanding. May we all become better at seeing the things that bind us together (and the things that don’t) for what they really are. 

 

I wish you great joy, peace and understanding this holiday season. Thank you for putting the Leading in Context Blog in the Feedspot Top Leadership RSS Feeds in 2017!

#37 on the CMOE Top 100 Most Socially Shared Leadership Blogs

 

 

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©2017 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

Leaders Are Culture Caretakers: 10 Actions For Success

 

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

There are many ways to understand culture, and some of the definitions are very complicated. My favorite way to think about culture is as an infrastructure or scaffolding that supports the behaviors we want. Culture drives what people do, and is the setting and framework for great work.

What leads to strong ethical cultures? Here are 10 critically important actions every leader should take:

  1. Keep Ethics Alive and Relevant
  2. Build an Engaging, High Trust Culture
  3. Establish Positive Conditions for Success
  4. Learn Ethical Thinking
  5. Develop Ethical Leadership Competence 
  6. Demonstrate Organizational Integrity
  7. Manage Ethics as a Performance System
  8. Have Meaningful Conversations About Staying Ethical
  9. Tend the Culture Carefully to Prevent Gaps
  10. Weed Out Negative Interpersonal Behaviors

Leaders are culture caretakers. To fulfill that role successfully, they need to know what a positive ethical culture looks like. Start the conversation today. 

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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

 

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!

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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

 

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

Leaders: Check Your Motivation, Your Authenticity and Your Ethics

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

If we are leading others, we need to be asking the questions of leadership – about our motivation, our authenticity and our ethics.

Continually asking ourselves these questions keeps us sharp, focused and aware of our greater impact on others, organizations and society.

The Questions of Leadership

What are some of the deep questions that we should be asking ourselves if we are leading others? This list includes a handful of the questions we may wrestle with on our leadership learning journey. Knowing the answers can keep us aligned with our greater mission, supporting not only our own success, but also the success of other individuals, groups and organizations.

Click on each question below for a blog post exploring the question:

1. Why do I want to lead?

2. How can I get past ego and self-interest to become an effective leader?

3. What does authentic leadership require?

4. How do I balance profits with other leadership outcomes?

5. What does it mean to be an ethical leader in a global society?

 

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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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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

What is Authentic Leadership?

How Do We Define Authenticity in Leadership?

Most people would agree that authentic leadership is a good thing. But what does it mean? What qualities do authentic leaders possess that set them apart from other leaders? Wikipedia provides many different interpretations of authenticity including this passage:

“Authenticity is something to be pursued as a goal intrinsic to “the good life.” And yet it is often described as an intrinsically difficult state to achieve, due in part to social pressures to live inauthentically, and in part due to a person’s own character. It is also described as a revelatory state, where one perceives oneself, other people, and sometimes even things, in a radically new way. Some writers argue that authenticity also requires self-knowledge, and that it alters a person’s relationships with other people. Authenticity also carries with it its own set of moral obligations.”                                                                                                                                                                 Wikipedia, Authenticity

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes authenticity as both personal and social: “The prevailing view seems to have been that, by turning inward and accessing the “true” self, one is simultaneously led towards a deeper engagement with the social world. This is why Taylor (1989: 419–455) describes the trajectory of the project of authenticity is ‘inward and upward’.”

What Are Its Inner and Outer Dimensions?

I believe that the following 14 personal, interpersonal and societal dimensions together form what we think of as authenticity. They involve overcoming the internal and external barriers to living an intentional, aware and ethical life. See if you agree.

Personal

Introspective

Self-Aware

Takes Responsibility

Has High Ethical Standards

Fully Present/Aware of Reality

Honest

Genuine

True to One’s Self

Aligned in Thought, Word and Deed (Has Integrity)

Committed to Growth and Learning

Interpersonal

Fully Respectful and Inclusive

Cares About Others

Service-Focused

Societal

Has An Identified Life Purpose or Calling

Reaches Individual Potential in Ways That Benefit Society

 

Growth Required

Discovering our authentic selves often involves venturing into areas where we are not a bit comfortable, but where we believe we can find meaning in our work and lives. As Herminia Ibarra wrote in her article Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership (HBR, January 2015) “The only way we grow as leaders is by stretching the limits of who we are—doing new things that make us uncomfortable but that teach us through direct experience who we want to become.”

 

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©2015 Leading in Context LLC

10 Things Trustworthy Leaders Know…

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This week the Alliance of Trustworthy Business Experts from Trust Across America-Trust Around the World is holding a social media awareness campaign called #Trustgiving2014, In support of that campaign, I am featuring 10 posts about what it means to be a trustworthy leader. They include individual actions and organizational commitments that build trust. I hope you enjoy them!

Trustworthy Leaders Know That…

1. In a High-Trust Workplace, Everyone is Valued

2. Trust is Relational

3. Trust Building Requires Trust-Giving

4. Ethics and Trust Are Reciprocal

5. Trust Depends As Much On What You “Take Out” As What You “Put In”

6. Values are the Anchor

7. We Have to Trust to Be Trusted

8. Toxic Leadership Erodes Trust

9. Trust Building is Part of Building an Ethical Culture

10. We Build Trust When We Take Responsibility

Today, look for ways to actively protect the trust relationship in your organization.

 

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We believe that ethics, integrity and trust are critical to our success.

…But what are we doing to clarify them, to anchor our work to them, to teach our organizations how to apply them?

“thought-provoking”       “fresh”         “powerful”        “relevant”

Learning about ethics is not supposed to be boring. Bring it to life with 7 Lenses.

 

©2014 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

Sustainability is a Mindset, Not a Job

Many businesses are gearing up for sustainability by adding a position to oversee it.

Will adding a position without changing the way decisions are made actually lead to sustainable business practices within the organization?

It turns out that sustainable CEOs are making money while incorporating sustainable business practices into their daily practices, and that “sustainability” is a mindset and a way of doing business profitably in their companies, rather than a job position.

These articles provide a case for the “sustainability mindset” and list CEOs who are being recognized for doing it well:

And the Top 10 Most Sustainable CEOs Are… by Nick Aster, Triplepundit.com

Sustainability Mindset by Frits Hesselink, cepatoolkit.blogspot.com

Sustainability Starts When You Throw Away the Instruction Manual, by Saybrook University’s Organizational Systems Program (guest article) at Triplepundit.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 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
  About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2010 Leading in Context LLC 

The Sustainability Mindset

There is a completely new mindset required to navigate the complex issues of our time. Sustainability is a word that is being used to describe the practice of operating as if our impact on the world and its resources truly matters to us.

Thinking holistically means having a heightened awareness of the complex webs of relationships within our ecosystems, so that instead of reductively seeing discrete species and applying linear cause-and-effect explanations, we comprehend pattern and relationship, value and quality, the non-linear dynamics of life where the “sum is greater than the parts’ (Berman, 1981, Capra, 1988, 2001)

Thoughts on Sustainability Volume 1: Principles leaning into process, Edited by Adam Faruk, Ashridge, UK.  www.ashridge.org.uk

The paper quoted is one of the most well-written overviews on this topic that I have seen. The entire document is available online at the Ashridge website. I highly recommend it as background for your leadership learning, and for stimulating discussions in leadership development programs.

The author is not claiming to be perfect and above the pressures of society, which adds to the credibility of the paper:

In writing this paper I have been very aware that I too am steeped within the the current Western mindset. I experience the hypocrisy of wanting to live ethically and lightly, whilst being attracted to new bright shiny things. Yet I can see this new paradigm emerging, and quickly, though not necessarily quickly enough.

Thoughts on Sustainability Volume 1: Principles leaning into process, Edited by Adam Faruk, Ashridge, UK.  www.ashridge.org.uk

For New Blog Posts, visit LeadinginContext.com/Blog

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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

© 2010 Leading in Context LLC 

Trends: How Businesses are Changing their Corporate Responsibility

A recent two-part article by Fast Company blogger Alice Korngold includes trends and predictions about how businesses are changing their corporate responsibility. Here is a small sample of the useful information you’ll find by reading the article:

“Three interrelated predictions: First, we will see the continued growth of what I call the empathy economy, which puts a premium on people over short-term profits. Second, digitally empowered consumers will demand corporations have purpose–ethical business models. Finally, my recent trips to Asia suggest that China, a rapidly growing consumer market with an enormous need for accountability, presents a huge opportunity for companies to develop ethical brands that consumers can trust.”

Devin Stewart, Director, Global Policy Innovations, Carnegie Council, quoted in Fast Company article “CSR 2010 Resolutions and Predictions.”

Your competitors and your peers are making changes now to respond to these trends. Key business leaders share what you’ll need to do to stay competitive in this two-part article.

CSR 2010 Resolutions and Predictions From Business and Social Sector Leaders: Part I

CSR 2010 Resolutions and Predictions from Business and Social Sector Leaders: Part II

 

For New Blog Posts, visit LeadinginContext.com/Blog

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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

© 2010 Leading in Context LLC 

 

Leadership and Filters: Consumer Shopping Filters Have Changed

This is the first post in a new category called “Leadership and …” which will include research, trends and new ways of thinking that impact organizational leadership.

One of the interesting things in our sector, if you look at media and technology and what we have seen over the last 10 to 20 years, is that there has been an explosion of choice. But people are more and more careful about the companies that they do business with.             Jeremy Darroch, in discussion about How to Maintain Your Corporate Reputation in Management Today (UK)

More choices mean more time that needs to be invested in the decision-making process. And that decision-making process has changed. Shoppers are now using filters to help simplify choices of all kinds. There are too many choices to easily manage in our marketplace, and not all of the companies a person may be considering are transparent about ingredients, leadership values, or ethical practices.

Websites that “filter” the information for the consumer are becoming increasingly popular, as a way to narrow the choices down to a manageable number. A great example is the commercial I saw on television last night. A woman is standing in the frozen foods aisle, and as she names what she wants in a pizza (no artificial, chemical ingredients, one that her family will like, etc.), some of the frozen food cases disappear until there is just one left. This is a visual representation of filtering, and more and more consumers want it.

In addition to making sure that items are healthy and affordable, many consumers now have added a level to their filters – “green.” Consumer Reports has even added a website and product reviews for Greener Choices.  There is almost a separate “universe” on the web of green companies, with portals for selecting the most socially responsible and ethical companies.

Websites filter and sort companies by different means, so that consumers can make decisions carefully when choosing product and service providers, suppliers and partners. The sites are useful because consumers want to select based on much more information than most companies provide, and want to compare how companies stack up in their areas of concern.

This website, The Good Guide, which is in Beta form, rates foods and products in multiple categories – including the company’s ethical track record, working conditions, environmental responsibility, and the impact of the product on your short-term and long-term health. The site also has user reviews, so that you can find the highest rated product by the most responsible company. There are more filtering sites listed below.

Filters for choosing responsible products and companies

Some companies are even building the filters that their customers want into their product selection,  assuring customers that all of their products are guaranteed to contain no genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) or chemicals, for example. This removes time and stress from the decision-making process for their customers who do not want those ingredients.

As a leader, we are judged by your choices. Choosing to be a responsible company moves our products up in the filters our customers are using. Choosing a responsible company to partner with or buy from or support automatically increases the overall responsibility level of our company and builds customer trust. How does our company stack up when consumers use purchasing filters?

Questions to Ponder:

1. How is our company filtering choices in ways that help and delight customers as they make choices?

2. How can we improve our corporate filters (for selecting products, suppliers, partners, etc.) to incorporate ethical leadership and environmental and community responsibility?

3.  How does our company look on the websites that rate corporate responsibility and ethics?

4. What can we change, starting today, in order to improve our ratings?

If this was helpful, consider subscribing to Leading in Context. It’s free and posts are about once a week.

 

For New Blog Posts, visit LeadinginContext.com/Blog

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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

© 2010 Leading in Context LLC 

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