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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20 Quotes To Inspire Leaders in the New Year (Part 2)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Are your leaders prepared for the year ahead? Each day will bring new challenges. To succeed within ethical boundaries, they’ll need a clear picture of “good leadership.”

This series includes 20 quotes (linked to posts with leadership guidance) to inspire you and help you improve your leader development. Part 1 included the first 10. Here are 10 more:

Demonstrating care is one of the hallmark requirements of good leadership. 

We are learning our way forward in developing leaders for the workplace of the future while they are learning their way forward through complexity, economic challenges and catastrophic change.

Leaders are the key to values alignment – they model and reinforce values and hold people accountable for following them. 

The triple bottom line, a great improvement over “win at all cost,” is only the beginning. The future of work will require much more.

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

Hands-off leadership can be as bad as micromanagement in terms of its ultimate impact on organizational ethics.

Understanding what causes ethical failures can help us build a more robust infrastructure for preventing them.

We must grow into our ethical leadership competence… intentionally…over time. 

Trust transforms.

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.

As we approach 2017, be sure your leadership team is ready for what’s ahead. Use these links to consider how to improve leadership development in your organization. Make sure each leader is clear about what “good leadership” looks like in action. 

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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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5 Insights Into Leadership Development Future (Part 4)

Leading-with-positive

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This post is Part 4 in the series “5 Insights Into Leadership Development Future.” 

The previous posts in the series in case you missed them:

Part 1 on Global Trends

Part 2 on Wholeness 

Part 3 on Growth and Human Development

In Part 4, we take a look at positive ethical values and the search for meaning.

Leaders need to help diverse groups of meaning-seekers thrive.

One way they do that is by leading with positive values. 

The best leaders are modeling leadership that is infused with ethical values like care, respect, sustainability and community service. They demonstrate that they understand the role that values play in good leadership.

Ethical values will increasingly be considered an important element of what it means to lead. 

“Recommendations for future research to promote the development and measurement of leaders who have morality, ethics, and authenticity as foundational behaviors to their leadership.”

Mary Kay Copeland, THE EMERGING SIGNIFICANCE OF VALUES BASED LEADERSHIP: A LITERATURE REVIEW, International Journal of Leadership Studies, Vol. 8 Iss. 2, 2014 

The best leaders are clear about their own values, they model the values of the organization, they follow laws, regulations and policies and they reach higher than laws to lead with positive ethical values. They do it because it’s the right thing to do, and they find that it also benefits them and their businesses in powerful ways.

Ethical values inspire meaning-seekers who want to do more than “just show up.” 

Learning to lead with positive ethical values meets a number of human and organizational needs (that go way beyond compliance with laws and regulations). 

  • People can do their best work in a positive, supportive environment where leaders strive for excellence, innovation and ethical leadership
  • Positive ethical values help leaders find their way through the maze, handling complex issues that are naturally part of the leadership role
  • Making decisions using ethical values helps leaders handle complexity without falling into ethical problems
  • Leading with positive ethical values fulfills a powerful human need for meaning and difference making

What can happen when leaders work to create meaningful work spaces where people can thrive? They are likely to find meaning themselves by helping others grow.

5 Actions to Take Now

What actions can we take now?

  1. Teach positive ethical values and make them an integral part of all leadership learning experiences in every setting. Make sure leaders know how powerfully those values attract meaning-seeking employees. 
  2. Drive your message home by hiring, promoting and rewarding leaders who treat everyone with respect and lead with positive ethical values.
  3. Make it clear that in good leadership, ethical values are more important than monetary gain or personal power.
  4. Provide a safe space to discuss how to apply ethical values in your organization, and explore how ethical values help people find meaning in their work.
  5. Help leaders learn how to think through ethical challenges using positive values (it takes practice).

More to Come: Stay tuned for #5 in the series!

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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!

 

 

 

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©2016 Leading in Context LLC

What is Ethical Thinking?

FINAL CHANGE THIS MANIFESTO_Page_01By Linda Fisher Thornton

Today I’m taking you inside the mind of the ethical leader to explore ethical thinking

What do ethical leaders think about?

  • They are guided by a desire to have a positive impact.
  • They think about what’s best for others, and seek mutual benefit. 
  • They think about ways to demonstrate their values in day-to-day leadership, even when faced with difficult challenges.

Here are some ways that ethical leaders think about ethical responsibility:

Inside the Mind of an Ethical Leader

“I make decisions based on values, not money pressures.”

“I need to constantly learn in order to stay ethical.”

“I can learn something from you, even if we disagree.”

“Leadership means creating value for others.”

“Understanding multiple perspectives helps us find mutually beneficial solutions.”

 “Respect is the minimum standard.”

Excerpted From Inside The Mind of An Ethical Leader by Linda Fisher Thornton, Guest Post on Management Excellence by Art Petty.

The real test of our ethical thinking is in how we choose to handle our day to day challenges. 

Are we being dragged through the day reacting to the chaos, or are we making intentional, values-based choices? Are we the sum of our challenges, or of our choices?

Are We Our Challenges?

TIME PRESSURE

MONEY PRE$$URE

INFORMATION OVERLOAD

COMPLIANCE

STRESS

RISK

Or Our Choices?

RESPECT AND CARE FOR OTHERS

COMMUNITY SERVICE

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP

FOLLOWING LAWS

PROTECTING FUTURE GENERATIONS

RESPONSIBLE PROFITABILITY

Excerpted From ChangeThis Manifesto “What Ethical Leaders Believe” By Linda Fisher Thornton

The bottom line? Ethical thinking means we never lose sight of our positive purpose. We choose to be the sum of our values, not our challenges.

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Just Say No To 10 Behaviors That Kill Competence

20140322_142728By Linda Fisher Thornton

On the lifelong quest to become our best selves, we must stretch and grow and learn from our mistakes. Being a flexible and willing learner, we more easily stay competent as the world changes. 

Here are 10 things that we must NEVER do if we are to accomplish the elusive goal of becoming our best selves:

Just Say No To 10 Behaviors That Kill Competence

  1. Being Too Busy For Professional and Personal Development
  2. Refusing to Use Time-Saving Tools Because We Don’t Want to Learn Them
  3. Ignoring Signs That We Need to Change
  4. Thinking Current Trends Are “Just a Fad” That Will Pass
  5. Refusing to Read or Be Open To Anything That Disagrees With Our Point of View
  6. Working Harder But Never Smarter
  7. Refusing to Listen To Feedback
  8. Thinking We Can Treat People Any Way We Want To, Using Any Kind of Colorful Language 
  9. Stubbornly Clinging To An Opinion In the Face of Overwhelming Evidence To the Contrary
  10. Doing The Same Things We’ve Always Done (As the World Changes….)

Why Are These Behaviors Competence Killers?

If we say Yes to any of these behaviors, we are no longer adding value. We are no longer learning.

We have moved from being an organizational asset to being a liability.

Competence is a critical part of responsible leadership. We may miss some steps along the way and make mistakes as we learn, but we should always make it a priority to stay competent. Say NO to these 10 behaviors that kill competence.

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300th Blog Post: Answering Big Questions About Ethical Leadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I have spent the last six years answering the big leadership question “What does it mean to do the right thing?” The support, the unsolicited testimonials and the social shares of this work have been widespread and global. Could it be that the world is ready for a clear answer to this important question? 

I wrote 7 Lenses because I believed that we needed a clear answer to what it means to “do the right thing” in a global society. I believed that the answer was there, somewhere, and could be found by researching across disciplines, religions and geographic boundaries. It was a question well worth exploring. With a clear understanding of leadership responsibility and a framework for talking about it in all of its complexity, we could do business in ways that would also improved lives and communities. We could make a powerful positive difference through our leadership. 

Over three years of research and writing, I learned that “doing the right thing” means honoring 7 dimensions of ethical responsibility in leadership, not just one at a time, but all at the same time

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC

 

Using these 7 Lenses (and the 14 Guiding Principles in the book for honoring them in daily leadership) gives us a holistic picture for leading ethically and teaching others. It gives us a high bar to reach for – the aspirational level of ethical leadership in organizations. It prepares us for the future as ethical expectations continue to increase.

Thank you for your feedback on 7 Lenses and for sharing the importance of proactive ethical leadership with your social communities. 7 Lenses is now being used by public and private universities to teach ethics and ethical leadership on three continents (if you are using it to teach, feel free to let me know!). Its message is reaching leaders across industries and around the world.

I enjoy blogging about the big ethical leadership questions, and welcome your input about what you want to read about that would further your leadership development. Below are some of the big questions I have been blogging about (and answers for today’s leaders). It is my hope that this blog will help you “do the right thing” on your journey to ethical leadership future.

What is Ethical Leadership?

How Are Ethical Leadership Expectations Changing?

What Does it Mean to Take Responsibility in Leadership?

Why Do People Often Disagree About The Right Thing To Do?

What is the Ultimate Goal of Leadership?

What is an Ethical Workplace?

What is Integrity?

What is Conscious Capitalism?

What is the Greater Good?

What is Authentic Leadership?

This blog has come a long way since the 150th Blog Post: Learning Out LoudThank you for making the Leading in Context Blog #37 on the Top 100 Most Socially-Shared Leadership Blogs of 2014!

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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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7 Questions For Ethical Culture Building

By Linda Fisher Thornton

We create organizational culture through strategic choices and daily actions. If we imagine building our culture as creating an elaborate painting, what will we depict on the canvas? Will we work together to carefully paint a background theme of positive values, or will we just give everyone brushes and “see where it goes?”

122314PerfSysGrphcThe graphic shows ethical leadership as a human performance system. At the center of the system are Positive Ethical Values and Trust. The arrows show a perpetual process of communicating and reinforcing values and ethical choices.

Having seen this model, ask yourself these questions to assess how well ethical values are “painted” onto your cultural canvas:

Questions

1. If a group of strangers walked into our organization for the first time and spent the day with us, what would they say is on our cultural canvas? What values would they see in action?

2. What positive ethical values do we make the focal point of our culture?

3. How will we “paint” those values in a lasting way onto the canvas of our culture?

4. How will we build the deep level of trust that is necessary for open conversation?

5. How will we align all of our messages and reward systems to aim directly toward the ethical values we say are important?

6. How will we prepare leaders to paint ethical values onto our cultural canvas through their daily leadership?

7. How will we know when everyone in the organization is committed to our values? What will we see happening?

When we communicate clear values and make trust a priority, we are creating positive conditions for:

  • making a lasting difference
  • bringing out the best in the organization
  • protecting our ethics

When our cultural canvas is clearly painted with ethical values and trust, the result may be a true masterpiece – an ethical organization.

 

 
  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 
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Full Accountability For Ethics: The New Normal

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Recently, I blogged about trends in ethical leadership, sharing 10 forces that are fueling a movement toward higher expectations for values-based leadership. Today I want to explore how those trends help explain what we are seeing in ethics events in the news.  Recent headlines have described more severe sanctions than people have seen in the past, in response to ethical problems in sports, politics, business and beyond. Some people may have wondered, “Why are people now being convicted for doing the same things that others before them have done?”

HFull-accountability-forolding people accountable for ethical problems that were previously overlooked may appear on the surface to be inconsistent and unfair. But when you take a closer look at the trends, you will discover an important reason why people are more frequently being held fully accountable. It is because ethical expectations are increasing and expanding.

What does all of this mean? While everyone is still catching up with increased regulation and recent changes in ethics expectations: 

There will continue to be a predictable increase in the enforcement of ethics standards across industries. 

It is definitely time to move out of a “what worked before will work again” mindset and into a mindset of full accountability and increasing expectations.

Mindset of the Outdated Leader: “What Worked Before Will Work Again”

  • You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.  We’ll both be better off.
  • This is the way we’ve always done it and we’ve never been cited for it.
  • We go over the ethics codes once a year. That’s enough. 

Mindset of the Ethical Leader: “Full Accountability and Increasing Expectations” 

  • Everyone is fully accountable for ethics, and favors are not “ethics-free.”
  • Ethical violations that may have been overlooked in the past are being enforced vigorously now. 
  • Dealing with increasing expectations for ethics now requires intentional effort, ongoing learning and frequent conversation.

You will be hearing more about this trend toward full accountability for ethics. It’s not just a phase. It is becoming the new normal.

Follow the Leading in Context Blog for weekly posts that help you Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™ 

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For more, see the new guide book to ethical leadership future called 7 Lenses and the related 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
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© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

The Trouble With Oversimplified Conversations

Oversimplified ConversationsBy Linda Fisher Thornton

Sometimes in the rush to make a quick leadership decision, we end up “dumbing down” an issue to speed up the process. “Dumbing down” an issue may make the decision easier to make, but it can lead us to make choices without considering current information, trends or context. Decisions made that way can cause problems.

It is particularly dangerous to oversimplify conversations about ethics.

An oversimplified message about ethics lacks traction in the naturally complex world of organizational life. 

How we talk about ethics sets the tone for the rest of the organization. That means that oversimplified conversations like “just do the right thing” and “use the highest integrity” will be spread throughout the organization. If the message is not clear, we are just spreading uncertainty.

Oversimplified conversations about ethics lead to oversimplified ethical decision-making. 

By oversimplifying the ethics message, we miss the chance to help people be successful, and increase the chances that they will make short-sighted choices.

To avoid oversimplifying the ethics conversation, use this ethics discussion guide (previously published in Training and Development Journal). It will help you have meaningful conversations about ethics in the context of your organizational challenges: Leading the Conversation About Ethical Leadership.

522For 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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

It’s Not About Us

By Linda Fisher Thornton 

You may have noticed that society’s expectations of us as leaders are continuing to increase. Consumers prefer to choose companies that genuinely care about their well-being. Employees want to work for companies that treat people well, do meaningful work and give back to the community. To survive in this new land where ethics is key to success, we must understand that it is not all about us.

Its Not About Us

In a human development sense, our understanding of leadership has essentially “grown up” and moved past personal ego and a self-centered view of things.

Leadership may have once been defined by eloquence, power, or charisma, but today’s successful leadership is defined by creating value for others.  In a human development sense, our understanding of leadership has essentially “grown up” and moved past personal ego and a self-centered view of things. It has progressed from being “all about us” to being about our long-term impact on others.

FROM  SELF-CENTERED VIEW             TO  OTHER-CENTERED VIEW  

FROM  DEMONSTRATING POWER      TO  CREATING SHARED VALUE

What does this less self-centered view of leadership look like in action? It looks like this in a typical day:

  • Talking with employees, customers and other stakeholders to learn their deepest needs
  • Treating everyone with respect
  • Asking how we can make things better for those we lead and serve
  • Being open to change, adapting quickly, and staying competent (because these things define how others experience our leadership)
  • Keeping ethics at the center of everything we do and every decision we make

We need to avoid thinking that it’s all about us. Today’s less self-absorbed leadership is all about proactively and ethically creating value for others.

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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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

                     

Case Study: Overwhelmed

OverwhelmedBy Linda Fisher Thornton

“The issue of the overwhelmed employee looms large” according to Josh Bersin, Bersin by Deloitte. (Are You an Overwhelmed Employee? New Research Says Yes, LinkedIn, March 11, 2014). Employees are having a hard time managing an overload of information and tasks, and the problem is not getting any better as technology use continues to increase.

Have you ever gone to your manager to ask for help prioritizing your tasks? Usually we try to avoid it, and do it only as a last resort when we are overwhelmed. It may surprise you to know that how managers answer gives us a clue about their priorities, ethics and values. Let’s listen in as a manager responds to an overwhelmed employee who has come to her for help. 

Take 1

Employee Request: I’m working on 10 major projects, and all of them have tight deadlines. I’m getting behind and I’m not sure which ones are the highest priority. Can you help?

Manager Response:  They’re all important. I’m sure you’ll figure out how to get them all done.

Ethics and Values Insights: This manager has probably not communicated a set of values that should guide the employee’s work. She may not know how to prioritize the tasks herself, and is therefore not able to help her employee. Worse, she shows no compassion for the stress the employee is feeling, and the courage it must have taken to be willing to ask for help. She does not demonstrate respect or care for the employee or her work.

Without guiding values and a formal way to decide on priorities, work is overwhelming and lacks meaning.

Take 2

Employee Request: I’m working on 10 major projects, and all of them have tight deadlines. I’m getting behind and I’m not sure which ones are the highest priority. Can you help?

Manager Response:  There is a lot going on. Let’s take a look at your projects and how they support our top three department goals. Projects that support our top department goals will almost always have the highest priority, regardless of the deadlines… (reviews projects with employee). So that makes these two your top priorities. Let’s go back to the internal clients on these three lower priority projects to renegotiate the time frames.

Employee: That will help a lot, but both of those top two projects are due in the next three weeks. It will still be a challenge to get everything done.

Manager:  Give it your best effort this week and keep me posted on how it’s going. If you find that you still need help, I’ll see if someone from the product team can pitch in and help you one day a week. 

Ethics and Values Insights: This manager shows compassion for the stress the employee is feeling and offers to help, showing care and concern. She clearly knows the department’s priorities and sees her leadership role as enabling the success of her employees. It is clear that she values this employee and sees enabling her success as a leadership priority. Her leadership is based on the ethical values of respect and care.

With guiding values and a formal way to decide on priorities, work seems manageable, and employees feel valued. 

Dale Carnegie’s report “What Drives Engagement and Why It Matters” (White Paper, 2012) revealed that a “caring” manager is one of the key elements that drives employee engagement. So managers, let’s remove “It’s all important. I’m sure you’ll figure it out” from our vocabularies. It not only lacks respect and care, which are important ethical values, it also signifies that we are overwhelmed and incapable of helping employees sort things out.

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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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

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