Lead With Questions, Not Answers

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leaders Ask The Hard Questions

While it’s tempting to try to “have the answers,” good leaders instead ask the hard questions. They may be questions for which the world does not have workable answers. They may be questions that help reinvent a company or industry. They may be questions that must be answered now to prevent problems in the future. They may be questions that generate a much needed dialogue.

Leading With Questions Is Engaging

When We Give Questions, We Give People

  • Curiosity – a reason to explore and be interested
  • Insight – from thinking, reflection and engagement over time
  • Possibility – answers are yet to be discovered
  • Enhanced thinking skills

When We Give Answers, We Give People

  • Boredom – no effort or engagement required
  • Diminished thinking skills – lack of use, less practice
  • Resistance without growth – if they disagree and there is no room for discussion, they may resist
  • Compliance without engagement – they go along but they don’t know why they should care

Great Leaders Don’t Have “The Answer”

“Having the answer” isn’t leadership. Leadership involves engaging others in efforts that matter and bringing out their individual and collective best. “Having the answer” isn’t teaching. Teaching involves lighting the spark that will guide someone’s learning journey for a lifetime. Here are some wonderful observations on the importance of questions:

“I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.”   ―Richard Feynman

“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.”   ― Shannon L. Alder

“An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy.”   ― Madeleine L’Engle

Great leaders spend time thinking about the right questions to ask.

They engage others in discovering the questions and answering them together.

They pull from a diverse collection of resources and data.

They engage others in learning.

They find out how much they don’t know before looking for “the answers.”

 

Top 100 Leadership Blog

 

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Leaders need to know how to answer the tough ethical questions. Seeing through all 7 Lenses gives them the perspective they need.

 

 

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©2018 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

7 Lenses (via Leadership Excellence Essentials)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I am honored that my article “7 Lenses: Principles and Practices” was included on page 34 in the January issue of Leadership Excellence Essentials that features tributes to Mandela.  This issue also includes articles by Warren Bennis, Dave Ulrich, Tom Peters and many others talking about leadership, strategy and engagement. 

LE_JAN2014_Page_01

Download View New Interactive PDF

This issue of Leadership Excellence Essentials is is shared with you with the permission of the publisher, hr.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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

 

Wishing You Joy

By Linda Fisher Thornton

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Extending Joy to You This Holiday Season

Joy is not something we simply hope for or wait for. It’s something that we create through our everyday actions and relationships.

As we celebrate the Holidays and enter the New Year, I hope that you enjoy the timeless quotes about joy that follow. Notice how these reflections on joy tend to focus on gratitude, imagination, open-mindedness and service

Many thanks to all of you who have reached out this year to share ideas about leading ethically in a complex world.

Have a Joyful Holiday Season!

“Joy blooms where minds and hearts are open.”
― Jonathan Lockwood Huie

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”
― Marianne Williamson

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
― Rabindranath Tagore

“An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy.”
― Madeleine L’Engle

“Scatter joy!”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,the more joy you can contain.”                                                                              ― Kahlil Gibran

“A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. She gives most who gives with joy.”
― Mother TeresaIn the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

 

To imagine the future of ethical leadership, see the  “What Ethical Leaders Believe” Manifesto by Linda Fisher Thornton, ChangeThis.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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

 

What is Ethical Leadership?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

What is ethical leadership? I have been exploring that question on the Leading in Context Blog for the last four years. This week, I’ve chosen some highlights from popular posts to illustrate what leading in a complex world requires of each of us.

Leading ethically in a global society requires much more than following laws and regulations. We must take on a global mindset, maintain an openness to learning, actively build trust, and so much more.

We must move away from a compliance mindset, and reach for a values-based mindset that considers much more (see the highest level on this three-level graphic).

Which of These is Ethical Leadership

Expectations Beyond Compliance and Laws

“Following laws and regulations is just above the punishment threshold for ethical leadership. Expectations are moving to a much higher level, a level at which we are expected to do much more. Look at the third level, the highest level of the graphic. Aren’t transparency, sustainability and honoring human rights now expected of all businesses? I believe they are, and there are other factors we need to consider that are not on this list. The minimum standard is gradually moving to a higher level as we better understand the impact of our choices on others in a global society.”       

Linda Fisher Thornton, Which of These is Ethical Leadership?

Openness to Learning

“When we are not open to learning, we can easily misinterpret another perspective that does not match our own as a threat. That perspective that we are actively arguing against may in fact reflect a more current, more advanced, or more ethical perspective than ours. Failing to acknowledge that there are other perspectives on an issue (and that the people who hold them have a right to their views as much as we do) shows a lack of respect, and a lack of awareness…”

Linda Fisher Thornton, Civility and Openness to Learning

Inclusion

“Managing diversity without inclusion as the ultimate goal can make a big difference in the way employees experience our organization. We choose a way of thinking that represents what we’re trying to do and then build a process/program/structure or measurement based on that foundation. If diversity is our way of thinking, we may get an approach based on “differences,” rather than one based on creating an inclusive culture where a diverse group of people can do their best work.”

Linda Fisher Thornton, Differences or Inclusion: Which Are We Focusing On?

Service and Care

“One of the elements of ethical leadership that may be overlooked when we view ethics using a “legal lens” is supporting and developing the potential of the people we lead. While many leadership ethics programs focus on the risk side of ethics – compliance with laws and regulations, avoiding lawsuits, etc., there is an equally important side of ethics that involves care.” Linda Fisher Thornton, Ethical Leaders Care

A High Trust Environment

“On the surface, it doesn’t seem that curiosity and imagination are related to ethics. But think about what would happen in an environment where people were not able to use them. Could employees still be relied on to consistently behave ethically in an environment where they were not engaged in their work, and where they did not feel respected or fairly treated?”

Linda FIsher Thornton, Curiosity and Imagination Necessary Ingredients in Ethical Business

A Global Mindset

“When we see the world as a global society, we see that we need to act as if what happens to others, even people we may never meet, matters. We all share space, food and natural resources. We also share international communication and transportation systems and a global economy. Thinking about our planet as home to a global society, it is clear that we must act as if what happens to the environment matters. Our survival is dependent on the limited resources we have available and how responsibly we use them.” 

Linda Fisher Thornton, Ethical Leadership and… a Global Society

Honoring Human Rights

“As leaders, we are expected to protect human rights in all that we do. In our quest to lead responsibly, we must continually consider the question “How do we need to change in order to better honor human rights?” If you are in the process of developing a corporate human rights policy, A Guide for Business: How to Develop a Human Rights Policy (UN Human Rights, Global Compact) is helpful in beginning the discussion.”

Linda Fisher Thornton, Honoring Human Rights is Essential

Staying ready to lead ethically in a globally networked world will require continual learning and a broad understanding of what ethical responsibility includes. Let’s get started…

 

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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

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

Twitter Helps Leaders “Think Global”

by Linda Fisher Thornton

At one point in the process of learning new social media channels, I actually said that I would never go on Twitter (In case you missed the post with that story, it was “Leaders and Social Media: 5 Reasons to Engage”).  I’ve learned quite a few things since the day I started on Twitter – April Fool’s Day 2010 – and I want to share what I have discovered about the learning impact of Twitter.

Twitter helps us learn to “think global” in a connected global society. It can transform us, the way we think, and the way we do business. It keeps us current, connects us with a global network of information and provides real-time data. In this post, I’ve sprinkled in some statistics along with my own observations about the learning benefits of Twitter.

Twitter Keeps us Current

  • Twitter helps us realize that social media is a vibrant and essential element of business communication, and it helps us get into the conversation.
  • Twitter connects us to people who are passionate about the same things we are passionate about, and to people who think differently from the way we think, and we can learn from each other.
  • Twitter is a powerful tool for learning about new and emerging issues and research. Many people post drafts of their work to get feedback from followers, and reach out to each other to share information.
  • Twitter helps us “think global” and learn about other countries. In the course of a week, we might connect with people on Twitter from dozens of countries, and we may need to use Google Translate to find out what they’re saying to us. What a way to build a global mindset!

 Twitter Enables Today’s Social Business

  • Twitter helps us connect with our readers, customers, colleagues, and partners. Today’s customer wants to engage with businesses on social media, and being there helps our business connect, survive and thrive.
  • Twitter helps us find out what people need that we may be able to provide.
  • Twitter helps us build credibility. When we connect, we have the opportunity to articulate our mission, and to inform others about how we can solve their problems with our services.
  • Twitter keeps us from becoming insulated. Engaging in dialogue on Twitter keeps us connected and aware.

Twitter Gives Us Real-Time Data 

With around 2,200 new tweets per second (whitefireseo.com), aggregating words mentioned in tweets provide unusually interesting information that can be updated continually. For example, take a look at the article Track Disease Trends on Twitter With Mappy Health by Mary C. Long.

Statistics to Tweet About

81% of respondents believe that CEOs who engage in social media are better equipped than their peers to lead companies in a web 2.0 world.

82% of respondents were more likely or much more likely to trust a company whose CEO and leadership team engage with social media.

78% of respondents would prefer to work for a company whose leadership is active on social media.

Brandfog.com, 2012 CEO, Social Media and Leadership Survey

Internally, CEOs who are engaged on social media are able to break down counterproductive silos and facilitate greater communication and collaboration with the company.

Douglas Burdett, How Social Media Engagement Can Help B2B CEOs, business2community.com

Stages of Learning Twitter

These articles explain the stages of learning Twitter:

As we connect socially on Twitter, we naturally begin to expand our network globally. We begin to realize that the world is one community, and we begin to “think global.”

A Guide to Finding What You Need: How to Use the Leading in Context® Website

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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

© 2012 Leading in Context LLC 

Leading Ethically Through Complexity: How to Prepare Leaders

The Leader of the Future
In response to the post “Business Leader Future: A Sketch” Graham posted a question about how we can support leaders who are learning to lead in the ways described in that post. It seemed difficult for some readers to imagine a single leader being able to handle complexity so responsibly in a fast-paced global business arena.  One reader described the leader in the sketch as a “saint.”
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How to Help Leaders Prepare to Handle Complexity
I spent some time thinking about what Senior Leaders and leadership development professionals can do to be sure that their leaders are learning the kind of leadership that is in such high demand now, and will be essential for success in the future.
My list of “10 Practical Ways to Help Leaders Lead Ethically Through Complexity” is below. What would you add?
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10 Practical Ways to Help Leaders Lead Ethically Through Complexity
1.   Help them learn to embrace complexity
2.   Help them learn to respect others
3.   Help them learn to respect differences
4.   Help them learn to respect the environment
5.   Help them understand global trends
6.   Help them understand their ethical responsibilities
7.   Help them learn to think like a global leader
8.   Help them understand the importance of learning and adapting
9.   Help them understand the importance of service to others and society
10. Help them embrace social media and socially connected learning

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For more, see new 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

© 2012 Leading in Context LLC 

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