Ethical Leaders Don’t Put the Brakes on Learning

By Linda Fisher Thornton

When leaders stop learning, they generate friction. Professionals who work with a leader who has “put the brakes on learning” are likely to experience conflict and dissatisfaction. A leader’s failure to learn starts a chain reaction that harms individuals and teams. 

How a Leader Who Puts the Brakes on Learning Affects a Team

  • Leader decisions based on outdated information frustrate competent team members and reduce their effectiveness.
  • Uninformed leader decisions often stray into unethical territory, with the leader pushing forward, pressuring team members to do what they know is not ethical right. 
  • Some highly talented team members working with an uninformed leader begin to look for other work.
  • Team members pressured to do things they know are not ethically right leave the team to find better working conditions. 
  • The departure of highly talented team members further reduces the effectiveness of the team.
  • The reputation of the team is damaged, making it hard to attract good people to fill positions.
  • Positions that remained unfilled put additional pressure on existing team members. More team members may decide to leave to find better leadership.  

When leaders put the brakes on learning, it cripples the whole team, starting a downward spiral to ineffectiveness. It damaged reputation and engagement metrics. It affects results. 

Ethical Leaders Learn

Responsible leaders know that learning must continue for a lifetime. Only then can they be ready to  make ethical choices as they handle the challenges of leadership. 

Good drivers don’t drive with the emergency brake on. Good leaders don’t put the brakes on learning. 

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)



5 Powerful Trends in Ethical Consumerism

20131120_112448By Linda Fisher Thornton

Customers are not separate from businesses any more – they are becoming part of the fabric of organizations in ways that meet their very specific needs. This week I describe 5 powerful trends in ethical consumerism that are changing the rules of business. To keep up with these trends, leaders will need a heightened level of ethical awareness and the ability to think ethically on many levels.

1. Customers want companies to build ethics into their brands.

 “In the pursuit of the nirvana that is GUILT-FREE CONSUMPTION, consumers are looking for brands to make SACRIFICES (so they don’t have to).” Report Brand Sacrifice, October 2014

2. Customers are increasingly involved in brand marketing and promotion.

“Your consumer is your marketer.” 

PBS Frontline, Generation Like

3. Customers expect companies to care not just about their well-being, but also about society and the planet.

“Growing numbers of consumers can no longer escape an awareness of the damage done by their consumption: to the planet, society, or themselves.”

7 Consumer Trends to Run With in 2014, Trendwatching,com


4. Customers don’t want to be “talked at.” They want a deeper connection. Empathy is what customers crave.

“In 2014 we’ll hear more executives talk about the need to build empathy for customers…”

Bruce Temkin, Temkin Group, 14 Customer Experience Trends For Marketing 2014 at


5. Customers are increasingly focused on health and well-being and seek companies and products that care.

“Many are aware that healthy eating can improve quality of life and extend longevity. Also, many are discovering food sensitivities and are looking to purchase “free from” products.”

The Top 10 Global Consumer Trends For 2014, Euromonitor International


These are powerful consumer trends that will drive business success in 2015 and beyond. This is the terrain of business leadership future, and it requires heightened ethical awareness and proactive ethical leadership. Get ready for business conversations that integrate ethics into all aspects of product development, customer service, marketing and leadership.

Business is changing. Let us know how Leading in Context can help you prepare.



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