Top Post Series of 2018: Leading in Context Blog

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The Top Post Series this year reflects a concern I have that many other people must share. It is a concern about what can happen when we don’t use ethical thinking.

This series answers the important question “Why should we take the time to think intentionally about the ethics of our decisions and actions?” Today I’ll share a quote from each post in the series that will give you a quick overview of the topic.

Here’s the most popular Leading in Context Blog series of 2018 – Why Ethical Thinking Matters. 

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 1)

“If we just teach people skills, without upgrading their thinking, we are not preparing them for success in the real world.”

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 2)

“You can’t solve a complex multidimensional puzzle a few pieces at a time.”

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 3)

“In a world of ethical complexity, leaders need to learn CLEAR and COHERENT ethical thinking.”

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 4)

“Leaders are ethical brand value ambassadors.”

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 5)

“Ethical thinking doesn’t just HAPPEN in a rapidly changing global environment.”

This timely series includes compelling reasons for making ethical thinking a priority in your board rooms and training rooms this year. Top 100 Leadership Blog





Click the cover to read a free preview!

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2019 Leading in Context LLC



The Seductive Power of the Status Quo

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Why do we have such a powerful negative reaction when we find out that we need to change? The status quo literally has a grip on us.

“Bearing in mind our natural propensity for the status quo will enable us to recognize the allure of inertia and more effectively overcome it.”

Rob Henderson, How Powerful is Status Quo Bias, Psychology Today

According to Sue Langley, at the Langley Group, “It takes more effort to think about and do something new than react out of instinct or habit.” Fortunately, she adds, “willpower, focused attention and mindful action can be used to push through resistance and rewire habitual patterns.” (The Neuroscience of Change, Langley Group)

Being aware of the brain’s tendency to want to keep things the same is important in terms of ethical decision making. What could we be missing? 

  • Does that change we’ve been putting off put us at risk of failing to keep up with changing ethical expectations? 
  • Is our discomfort with change causing us to make decisions that harm individuals or groups?
  • Are we thinking short term because it is more familiar, when a long-term perspective is really needed?

It will take an intentional effort to overcome the seductive power of the status quo. Take charge of the decision-making process and use ethical values to make ethical choices. 

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? Part 1

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? Part 2

Ready To Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? Part 3

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? Part 4

Grey Areas: Our Choices Define Us (Part 2)


Top 100 Leadership Blog





Click the cover to read a free preview!

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2018 Leading in Context LLC





“Is It Ethical?” (Decision Tool Based on the Book 7 Lenses)


By Linda Fisher Thornton

A new ethical decision-making tool is available for readers of 7 Lenses! If you have read the book and want to take your decision-making to a higher level of complexity, visit the new 7 Lenses Tools page. You’ll find the decision-making worksheet “Is it Ethical?” based on the book.

So often decisions are made based on cost or convenience without considering the full ethical impact. This new 7 Lenses® decision-making worksheet guides you through all 7 Lenses of Ethical Leadership to get the full picture.

It’s important to think long term about our leadership impact (from 7 different perspectives). When we fully consider the impact of our choices, we can make decisions that meet our own needs and the needs of others and society.

Use this tool for informing:

  • your individual decisions
  • group decision-making conversations
  • coaching and mentoring other leaders

My hope is that “Is It Ethical?” will help you honor all 7 Lenses in your daily leadership. Leaders who are using the 7 Lenses® framework tell me that there is a startling clarity in this approach and that having this framework for understanding ethical responsibility is transforming their leadership and changing their lives in positive ways.

Please share your story with other readers – How is the 7 Lenses® framework helping you stay grounded in ethical values? How is it improving your decision making? How is it changing your daily leadership? 


Top 100 Leadership Blog




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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©2015 Leading in Context LLC

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Which Values Are Ethical Values?

Tell-me-what-you-payBy Linda Fisher Thornton

My Applied Ethics students asked a great question that I want to answer in today’s post:  “Which Values Are Ethical Values?”

Quick Overview

Not all values are ethical values. Some values, such as efficiency, do not have an ethical component. Some ethical values involve qualities of an ethical self (such as honesty and integrity). Others describe positive and ethical behavior toward others, the environment and society.

Ethical values by definition are positive and they often require that we stretch outside of our own interests to respect, protect, serve and help others.

A (Starter) List of Ethical Values

  • Accountability
  • Altruism
  • Avoiding Harm
  • Benevolence
  • Care
  • Citizenship
  • Collaboration (See also Mutual Benefit)
  • Competence (Ethical)
  • Confidentiality
  • Doing Good
  • Fairness
  • Global World View
  • Greater Good
  • Honesty
  • Inclusion
  • Integrity
  • Justice
  • Kindness
  • Long-Term Thinking
  • Moral Awareness
  • Mutual Benefit
  • Open-Mindedness
  • Personal Congruence (Thoughts, words and actions aligned)
  • Positive Intent
  • Precaution (Choosing safe, healthful ingredients in food products, for example)
  • Preventing Harm
  • Respect For Boundaries
  • Respect For Others
  • Respect For Human Rights and Dignity
  • Service
  • Support For Well-Being of Others
  • Sustainability
  • Taking Responsibility
  • Transparency
  • Trustworthiness
  • Valuing Differences

Our values define who we are and drive the choices we make. Don’t let your daily decisions be made on autopilot. Choose the ethical values that will guide your life and your leadership.


For more on ethical values, see publication “What Ethical Leaders Believe” and Linda’s leadership book 7 Lenses, which gives a clear picture of ethical values through 7 Lenses and 14 Guiding Principles. 

Top 100 Leadership Blog






Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses® of Ethical Leadership. 

Includes case examples and questions.  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

Want To Thrive in Leadership Future? Tether Yourself To Values

ethical values

By Linda Fisher Thornton

It would be “easy […] for organizations and leaders to become frozen by the magnitude of the changes under way” (McKinsey & Co., Management Intuition For the Next 50 Years). Success in future leadership requires being nimble and adaptive, flexing with constant change, and being ready for anything. 

How should we stay grounded as we avoid crises and manage our way through a maze of increasing expectations?

Without  a place to stand where we know what we believe, without a center to which we can return, we are adrift and at risk from the strong winds of short-sighted opportunism and unethical leadership.

Our center needs to be firmly grounded in values.

Without attaching ourselves to ethical values, we risk being swept toward the next shiny, compelling opportunity that presents itself (but is ethically the wrong thing to do).

We are assaulted with information (overloaded doesn’t begin to describe it) and desperately searching for meaning. 

To thrive as leaders in this unpredictable future, we need to create meaning for ourselves and those we lead in the form of ethical values. Those values which we hold tightly will guide us as we make difficult decisions. They will help us avoid mistakes.

Values will guide us and those we lead through difficult times. 

Without ethical values to guide us, we can forget who we are creating value for, and what our responsibilities are to our constituents. To thrive in leadership future, we need to tether ourselves to ethical values and hold on for dear life as the storm rages on.



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

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

…Are we doing enough?


7 Lenses™ Workshops Engage Organizational Leaders in Learning:

  • what it really means to lead with “integrity”
  • how to center daily work in ethical values
  • what is means to be morally aware and ethically competent
  • how to lead in ways that bring out the best in others
  • how to use clear ethical thinking and decision-making
  • how to build lasting trust
  • how doing all of the above transforms organizational results

Scheduling Now for 2015:

 …Are we doing enough?





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  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Focusing on Profits? Watch Out For the “Blinder” Effect

By Linda Fisher Thornton

We need money to exchange goods and services, pay bills and grow our businesses. So what’s the problem with it? The problem is that profitability cannot become our defining business goal, and it cannot replace values as the central beacon of our decision-making.

Money has no inherent moral grounding. 

Since it has no inherent moral grounding, we can’t ever let money be the deciding factor in our decision-making. We have to balance the quest for dollars with strong ethical values.  It is this moral grounding that ensures that we will consider how our decisions benefit or harm others. Making profitability a singular goal leaves an organization stuck in self-serving mode.

In self-serving mode, anything that brings in dollars looks good.

A focus on money alone causes leaders to plod on, as if wearing blinders, ignoring unintended consequences and harm.

We can’t put money where morality should be.

Have you ever lived in a house constructed by a builder who saved fifty cents by using a cheaper part, and that “savings” interfered with your enjoyment of your home or cost you major repair problems? How do you feel about food companies that choose the cheapest ingredients without regard to the health impact of the products they sell? The self-serving pursuit of profit doesn’t work in today’s world. People expect much more.

Ethical leaders care for constituents (not just profits). 

Money lacks inherent meaning and ethical values. It is just a token of exchange. It is our responsibility to add the ethical values.


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


For more, see 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 
About 7 Lenses  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

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