Leaders, Don’t You Care? (9 Red Flags That Tell Employees You Don’t)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Demonstrating care is one of the hallmark requirements of good leadership. In addition to caring about what happens in our own careers, we must CARE about people, about their success, and about creating a positive work environment. If leaders don’t seem to care, that harms the organization’s culture.

The 9 behaviors below are red flags for employees – pointing out that a leader doesn’t care.

9 Red Flags That Tell Employees You Don’t Care

  1. Being too busy to meet with people
  2. Not showing interest in people or their success
  3. Asking about how someone is doing, then losing interest or becoming distracted when they answer
  4. Breaking promises, not acting on commitments
  5. Telling people you’re sure they’ll figure it out on their own when they come to you for help
  6. Failing to recognize accomplishments and milestones
  7. Asking people to do some of your work, then taking credit for it
  8. Withdrawing during times of change when support is most needed
  9. Making YOUR OWN success more important than THEIRS (missing the point that as a leader, their success is the measure of your own)

All 9 of these choices hurt employees who want to do their best and who want a manager who believes in them. They are behaviors that damage trust, reduce engagement and limit productivity. 

The bottom line? Acting like you don’t care might work if you’re leading a team of robots – but people expect more.

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What Does it Mean to “Be a Leader?”

What-Does-it-Mean-to-Be

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leadership is not about being “in charge” or standing “at the front of the room” or “exercising personal power.” Authentic ethical leadership flips that paradigm. 

The authentic ethical leader is:

  • Standing beside, encouraging, supporting, guiding
  • Standing in the back offering encouragement
  • Stepping aside when people are capable of doing the work without support
  • Stepping forward to remove obstacles and clear the path for success
  • Taking responsibility and sharing credit
  • Being available and ready to help

This is the work of leadership.

Do not be fooled by someone trying to use power for personal gain. Bottom line — If it’s loud, self-serving and egotistical, it’s not leadership. 

 

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5 Insights Into Leadership Development Future (Part 3)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This is the third installment in a series “5 Insights Into Leadership Development Future” Each post in this series will address a trend in leadership development and offer tangible actions for helping leadersIn case you missed them, here are the previous posts:

Part 1 on Global Trends

Part 2 on Wholeness 

This third post in the series is about the trend toward growth and human developmen– that includes growth in leadership and growth toward becoming a better person. 

We are talking more about the benefits of growth, and there is an awareness that people become better leaders through experience, travel, challenge and struggle. Here’s the bottom line –

There is a vast difference between a leader who KNOWS and a leader who GROWS.

The leader who grows is:

  1. More self-aware
  2. More humble
  3. More willing to adapt
  4. More open to learning
  5. More supportive when others make mistakes as they are learning
  6. Better equipped to support others as they grow
  7. More likely to attract and keep great performers

Today’s leadership development must move away from “infusing people with knowledge” and focus on “helping them grow.”

5 Actions to Take Now

How do we apply the growth trend to the way we develop leaders? 

  1. Give them a sense of what human growth looks like, what it requires and the rewards of taking the journey. 
  2. Let leaders know that the goal is improvement, not perfection, and that they will make mistakes while they are learning (that is part of the learning journey).
  3. Give them clear values to aim for – this helps them orient their growth toward a higher purpose. 
  4. Give leaders activities that cause them to stretch and struggle to make sense out of things – take them outside of their comfort zones – prepare them to handle complex leadership challenges.
  5. Create experiences that expand their understanding of the world and help them understand the struggles of others (this is easier than it used to be – you can travel the world via YouTube).

More to Come: I will be continuing this series with more important trends in leadership development and actions you can take to help your leaders adapt.  Stay tuned for Part 4!

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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.

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

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The Future of “Leadership” (Do We Need a New Word For It?)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

While we are experiencing many global challenges, there is also a gradual global push toward better leadership.

There are many trends moving us toward a point where we clearly understand “leadership” to include good ethics and exclude any behavior that is purely self-serving or harmful to others. 

We have seen enough people making poor ethical decisions in the name of “leadership” to realize that we need to change something.  Some people may even think that things have gotten so bad that the term “leadership” should be replaced.

I disagree. Our understanding of what leadership means is evolving, so we shouldn’t throw out the word and replace it with a new one. We should continue the movement toward clearly re-defining it at a higher level.

What does redefining leadership at a higher level mean? 

  • When we say “leadership,” we will automatically include ethical responsibilities along with opportunities and benefits. 
  • When we say “leadership,” we will think “a privilege to serve” and not “a position of power.”
  • When we say “leadership,” we will think of the most humble, dedicated people who, working with others, try to leave the world better than they found it.

With this higher level understanding of leadership, we will never mistake a greedy, dishonest, fraudulent , harmful, toxic or care-less person who happens to have a title for a real leader. We will not be distracted by smoke and mirrors. We will look for substance and service. 

I am optimistic and I believe that this is the future of leadership. 

What do you think?  Are you ready to redefine leadership at a higher level? Are you ready to separate self-serving psuedo-leadership from real leadership?

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Includes how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

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What Does “Good Leadership” Mean?

 

Our-understanding-of (2)

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. Just staying competent isn’t enough. The trend report below shows 16 ways leadership expectations are increasing.

Leaders are stretching to deal with catastrophic levels of change, increasing ethical expectations and information overload. Taking responsibility at the highest levels (even when it’s difficult) separates “good leaders” from the rest. 

“Good Leadership” Means Taking Responsibility:

 

For thinking beyond ourselves to our impact on others

  1. Staying competent – ethically, professionally, personally and in our leadership
  2. Asking how we can improve
  3. Improving how we lead based on our proactive learning and their suggestions
  4. Never thinking our learning journey is finished

For serving as positive ethical role models

  1. Modeling ethics, building trust, enabling the success of others.
  2. Thinking past our own costs and benefits to consider the costs and benefits to others when making decisions
  3. Demonstrating precaution, care and service
  4. Seeing our impact as global

For improving society

  1. Volunteering, helping
  2. Making community life better
  3. Making life better for future generations

For ethical intent and impact

  1. Making sure that our intent is positive – asking ourselves if we have thought past personal gain, ego and power and plan to do something that is positive and mutually beneficial
  2. Making sure that our impact is positive – taking precautions to ensure that our actions will not unintentionally cause harm

For open dialog about ethics

  1. Asking hard questions
  2. Creating a safe space for dialogue (not monologue)
  3. Answering tough questions about ethical “grey areas”
  4. Making ethical behavior a non-negotiable requirement

All leaders need to know that “good leadership” requires responsibility. If we make “taking responsibility” a priority in our leadership, we can do well by doing good works in our organizations and in our world. If we don’t, we’re taking a seat away from someone who cares and is willing to make a positive difference.

Learn about how to apply all 7 Lenses of Ethical Leadership (chapter previews below).

Join me for an ILA Leadership Perspectives Webinar today at 12:00 pm ET.

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

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©2016 Leading in Context LLC

350th Post: A Zoom Lens Won’t Help You See “Good Leadership”

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leadership is multifaceted, but leadership books are not often written about that. Many use a “zoom lens” approach to take you very close to one aspect of leadership. This close-up view can be helpful for fine-tuning our leadership skills, but then we may begin to think that this close-up view is all there is to good leadership. 

A zoom lens won’t help you see good leadership – it is multifaceted.

Sometimes, when we zoom in to get a closer look at one aspect of leadership, we look away from the complete picture. If we focus on self-development, we may neglect our interpersonal impact. If we focus on bringing out the best in other people, we may lose sight of our impact on the environment and the community. 

As useful as zoomed-in leadership information is, we need to understand it in the “wide angle” context. As we seek to improve our leadership and our leadership development, we should remember that there is a bigger picture.

Seeing good leadership requires us to step back and see the full context.

We have many constituents, and their expectations are high. They are concerned about our ability to see issues clearly, take responsibility and lead ethically in a broad array of settings and roles. Learning how to balance the needs of all of them at the same time takes a wide-angle view.

This week, look for books and articles that help you balance competing interests and multiple responsibilities – get the complete, uncut picture of good leadership.

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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 Influence First By Who They Are

 

Leaders-influence-others (1)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethical leaders are not easily pulled off course – They stay focused on the values that are important in good leadership. They realize that they are influencing others, and they perceive that as both a privilege and a responsibility. They ask themselves, “In my leadership, am I making the path clear for others to follow?” 

Leaders influence first by who they are, and then by what they do.

If we see leadership as only a privilege (and not a responsibility) we may be tempted by personal gain. If we see it as only a responsibility (and not a privilege), we may miss the joys of bringing out the potential of those we lead. 

Because good leadership is centered in positive values, leaders influence others first by who they are and then by what they do. They do not need to promote themselves as responsible leaders because their actions convey what words cannot.

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detachment and Ethics Don’t Mix

20150804_194451By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethics and detachment don’t mix. In fact, combining high ethical expectations with detached behavior can lead to trouble. 

How can “detached leadership” contribute to ethical problems?

  • When we seem unapproachable, people are less likely to bring up ethical problems they’ve observed
  • Removing ourselves from day-to-day work keeps us unaware of ethical issues and potential ethical hot spots
  • When we are unapproachable and unaware, we can seem unconcerned, leading people to think that ethics is not a priority

Hands-off leadership can be as bad as micromanagement in terms of its ultimate impact on organizational ethics. When leaders lock themselves away and are not available to those they lead, they are removing themselves from the important role of championing ethical decisions and actions.

Ethics has to be personal, systemic and positive to drive an organization’s success. Detachment undoes all three important elements. 

 

Reader Opportunities:

HCAS flier TU v7

 

If you are in the Richmond, Virginia area, please join me for a Book Talk on April 7th at the Tuckahoe Library. This event is free and open to the public. See LeadinginContext.com/News for details. I’m looking forward to sharing my story with readers of 7 Lenses and the Leading in Context Blog in this local author showcase!

ILAs Leadership Perspectives webinar Linda Fisher Thornton_Page_1

Also plan to join me for an International Leadership Association Leadership Perspectives Webinar: Seeing “Good Leadership” Through 7 Lenses of Ethical Responsibility, April 27th , 12-1 pm. Registration is open to everyone. There is a small fee for non ILA member registration.

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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

 

Being Thankful is a Virtue

A-thankful-heart-is-not

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Cicero’s quote reminds us that if we want to act on the important virtues that create a just society, we must first see the world with a thankful heart. 

Why is seeing the world with a thankful heart so important?

It helps us think beyond ourselves.

It keeps us aware of the good that others do for us.

It helps us consider our wants and needs with an attitude of plenty.

Today, may you go about your appointed rounds with a thankful heart. 

If you want to learn more about how thankfulness can be transformational, Jeff Haden shares 40 Inspiring Motivational Quotes About Gratitude with us at Inc.com.

 

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What Are You Talking About (Ethically Speaking)?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

There are many layers of meaning in ethics conversations. How far down are you going? Do you stop at surface messages or do you dig into real problems? See if you can find your ethics conversations below:

Layers of Ethical Conversation

 

SURFACE:

Corporate Messages

Marketing Slogans

Posters About Ethics and Integrity

STANDARDS:

Ethics Codes

Ethics Training

REALITY:

Tackling Real-Life Dilemmas That Are Difficult To Handle

How to Apply Ethics Expectations in Grey Areas and Between the Lines

What We Do Around Here When We Don’t Know the Right Thing to Do

 

Don’t lock down the ethics conversation at Surface and Standards. The level of Reality is where your employees want to talk about ethics. Don’t believe it? Just ask them. 

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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.

We have all been in conversations with people who are open to hearing what we have to say and those who are not. When we perceive an idea as a threat, it may be a signal that we are CLOSED to learning. And that may lead us right into unethical territory, to disrespectful interpersonal behavior. 

As you review these descriptions, think about your recent conversations. Was the other person OPEN or CLOSED to learning? Did they perceive a difference of opinion as a threat or an opportunity to learn?

Sees a Difference of Opinion as a Threat

  • Different ideas are direct threats to my position
  • When we disagree, only one of us can be right
  • Listening to dissenting opinions is dangerous and should be avoided
  • People who disagree with my position should be belittled and put in their place to reduce their power

Sees It as a Learning Opportunity

  • Different ideas are opportunities to learn
  • When we disagree, we might both be describing different parts of a bigger concept
  • Listening doesn’t mean we have to change our beliefs, but we are open to that if it happens
  • Listening to dissenting opinions increases our understanding of issues we care about

Ethical leadership requires us to respect people and differences of perspective even when those differences may make us uncomfortable. 

Override your threat detection system when you hear information that goes against your current views.

If differences of opinion set off our “threat detection” system and make us angry, that may be a sign that we are closed to learning. I have noticed over the years that perceiving the ideas of others as a threat is signal that we need to listen. 

This week, notice what sets off your threat detection system, and see what you can learn when you choose to override it and remain open to learning.

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Subscribe to the Leading in Context Blog! Weekly posts help you navigate ethical complexity and prepare for the future of leadership.

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

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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? 

 

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Take Positive Action When You See Unethical Leadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton

While I specialize in positive, proactive ethical leadership, I frequently get asked questions about unethical leadership. In particular, readers ask about the damage that toxic leaders do in organizations and what situations and circumstances lead to ethical failures.

While we need to stay focused on the positive, preventive aspects of our leadership, understanding what not to do can also help us stay within the boundaries of positive ethical leadership. Today I’m sharing posts that describe what leadership looks like when it is unethical.

These articles include details about what not to do: 

What is Unethical Leadership?

Can A Toxic Leader Be Ethical? Yes and No

Is Over-Solving Problems Unethical?

Is Needing To Be Right Unethical?

Is Refusing to Change Unethical?

What Causes Ethical Failures?

What Are Signs Of Unethical Leadership and Low Trust?

Is Failing To Honor Boundaries Unethical?

40 Ethical Culture Gaps to Avoid

“We can no longer evaluate a person’s leadership solely on results while ignoring the negative ripple effect created by interpersonal behavior choices. It’s time to see toxic leadership for what it really is – stress creating, inappropriate, negative, unethical leadership.”

Linda Fisher Thornton, Leading in Context Blog, Can a Toxic Leader Be Ethical? Yes and No.

If you recognize any of these signs of unethical behavior or toxic leadership in your organization, don’t wait. Take positive action now. 

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Help Your Leaders Cut Through Complexity By Learning To See Through The 7 Lenses. 

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Are You Approachable?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The pace of change is out of control in the workplace. Have any of you learned more than three new software programs this week? Have you had to deliver on a deadline in spite of being completely new to a project? Have you struggled to get the attention of colleagues when you need their input, only to find that they are too busy to make the time to meet?

Leaders, if you are struggling to deal with the pace of change, how do you think your employees feel? One of the most critical things you can do is be accessible when they need you. If they get stuck, they need to be able to ask questions. And get stuck they will. It’s inevitable.

Your work is dependent on others, and your employees are even farther from the answers than you are. They need to be able to count on your availability and support. 

As fast as we are all moving, we need to realize that we are part of a connected chain of information, processes and people. Knowing that a manager is available to help can make a critical difference to employees – not just in performance, but also in engagement and morale. 

Employees count on you to be approachable. Don’t be like the prickly cactus, daring others to approach at their own risk.

 

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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.

 

 

 

LeadinginContext.com   Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

 

What is Positive Leadership?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Positive leadership is a new term that is popping up regularly in articles. What does it mean? What kind of leadership do we describe as positive?

What is Positive Leadership?

Positive leaders stay grounded in ethical values and use a human growth mindset. They are fixed and flexible at the same time, never straying from ethics but always willing to change with the times. 

The Basis?    Positive Ethical Values

The Assumption?    People Will Do Amazing Things if We Intentionally Bring Out Their Best

The Goal?  Lead in Ways That Bring Out People’s Best Capabilities

The Culture?   Respectful, Transparent and Supportive

The Leadership?   Encouraging, Available, Contributing to People’s Success and Well-Being, Helping People Be Co-Owners of the Organization’s Success, Helping Them Learn and Grow, Helping Them Reach Their Potential.

The Interactions?   Net Positive (Many more positive than negative interactions)

Positive leaders extend a welcome to all stakeholders and help them discover their possibilities, capabilities and contributions.

What is the essence of being a positive leader? Focusing on the best in others while working on becoming the best of ourselves. 

Learn More: 

The Impact of Positive Leadership, Gallup Business Journal

Positive Organizational Behavior in the Workplace: The Impact of Hope, Optimism and Resilience, Carolyn M. Youssef, Fred Luthans, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, unl.edu

The Power of Positive Communication, The University of Arizona

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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.

 

LeadinginContext.com   Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

 

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