9 Ethical Roles: Is Your Leadership Team “All In”


By Linda Fisher Thornton

I blogged a while back about the Critical Roles of the (Ethical) CEO. I realized later that these important ethical roles apply not just to CEOs, but also to all senior leaders in an organization. And if front line leaders don’t carry these roles throughout the organization, there will be gaps in the culture. 

An ethical culture will only happen if the leadership team is “All In.” 

We should prepare leaders to take on these 9 important roles, to help them be “All In” in the quest for ethical culture building: 

Critical Roles of the Ethical Leader

Ethical Leadership Role Model

High Level Trust-Builder

Champion For Ethical Values

Ethical Prevention Advocate

Highest Leader Accountable For Ethics

Accountability Consistency Monitor

Ethics Dialogue Leader

Ethical Decision-Making Coach

Ethical Culture Builder

Through these important roles, leaders communicate, model and coach ethical thinking and action. That process increases the ethical capability of the organization over time, protects it from problems, and keeps the work environment positive.

Is your leadership team “All In” in taking on these roles and championing ethics throughout the organization? Help each leader develop the skills and confidence to handle these important roles. 

Top 100 Leadership BlogNEW Leadership Webinars –  Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership!
6/8/17 – Communicating About Ethical Values: How To Talk About What Matters
7/11/2017 – Developing Leadership That Inspires

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Inclusion: The Power of “Regardless”

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Some inclusion statements begin with “we respect all people and treat them fairly, regardless of…”  and then include a long list of differences that we should overcome. These lists are hard to communicate, difficult to remember and ever-changing as we expand our understanding of human rights. 

Why not aim for where the statement is going, rather than where it’s been? We can keep adding to that “regardless” list until it becomes too unwieldy to use, or we can simply say now:

“We respect all people and treat them fairly, regardless.”

That’s the message behind the UN Global Declaration of Human Rights, championed by Eleanor Roosevelt. 

I know what you might be thinking. Not everyone is ready to make this big leap all at once. What we can do is make sure that we are moving our organizations in this direction with all due haste, knowing that this is the leadership mindset that is required of us in a global society, regardless.

 

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Learn To See Through All 7 Lenses of Ethical Responsibility

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2017 Leading in Context LLC

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Ethical Leadership is a “Fear-Free” Zone

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Fear is insidious. It changes how we see the world and how we treat others. Here are 5 important reasons why fear has no place in our workplaces, our families or our communities:

5 Reasons Fear Has No Place in Leadership

  1. Fear creates a dampening field that blocks positive interpersonal behavior including respect and care
  2. Fear-inducing relationships are damaging to human health
  3. When they are fearful, people spend time trying to protect themselves rather than reaching for their potential, and that reduces job satisfaction and productivity
  4. The damaged job satisfaction and productivity that are common in fear-based relationships translate into damaged organizational results
  5. Fear leads to unethical choices about people who are not like us

Fear is the toxic ingredient in many failed leadership strategies. When we’re fearful, we’re not at our best. We’re not thinking clearly. When we’re just trying to protect ourselves, we may quickly “rule out” positive strategies that would help us solve collective problems – including dialogue, cooperation, long-term thinking and listening to understand.

If we think someone or some group is “dangerous” or “harmful,” why would we want to get close enough to understand them?

When we become fearful, we almost automatically shift from considering ourselves and others, to just considering ourselves. We narrow the scope of the respect and care we offer to only those around us who do not elicit our fear response. This kind of reaction is understandable as a natural survival instinct. But is it ethical leadership? No, it’s not.

Great leaders respect others AND differences. If they begin to become fearful of a person or group, they recognize the signs, step back to examine their motives, and shift their thinking. They never compromise respect.

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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.

Click the book cover for a preview.

 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

A Message of Gratitude

By Linda Fisher Thornton

There have been several great leaders who helped me grow, and who inspired me to want to lead others. This message is for them:

“Thank you for being a great leader. You may never know just how deeply your kindness and support have impacted my life. When I felt like giving up, you encouraged me. When I was overwhelmed, you directed me. When I hit the wall, you showed me how to climb it. When I was at my best, you stood back and let me fly. When I did great things, you celebrated and never tried to take any of the credit. I learned how to be a light for others by your example.”

Take a moment, in this season of giving thanks, to share a message of gratitude with a leader who has changed your life and inspired your leadership.

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Prepare For Ethical Leadership Future – Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Learn 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®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Spam An Ethical Red Flag?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Consumers expect companies to respect boundaries. That allows them to live happy and meaningful lives without intrusion from companies that want them to “buy right now.”

Spam Violates Ethical Boundaries

When people get spam mail, email or blog comments, do they rush to click on the websites or buy the items advertised? Probably not. The reasons are a complex mix of changing expectations and higher ethical standards for business:

  • A barrage of unwanted information violates the boundary of respect for people’s time and space.
  • Sustainability is important, and fat envelopes with unwanted offers use up natural resources. 
  • Spam signifies that the organization is willing to do whatever it takes to get your business, making savvy consumers wonder “What else are they doing that isn’t good?”

Spam senders conveniently ignore information and privacy boundaries  – they do not honor people’s right to seek out the information they want, instead pushing the information they want people to haveThe privacy boundary is also a major issue in the discussion about technology-enabled smart marketing based on what people have viewed in the past.

Spam Creates a False Sense of Urgency

The spam that I see is generally for optional luxury goods. With these goods, the sender is trying to create a need and not fulfill one. Lauren Bloom describes how that can make us feel in The Ethics of Spam“There’s something sadly dehumanizing about all that in-your-face advertising.  If I’m really a valued customer, why are you pushing me to buy things I don’t want or need?”

Responsible Selling is Respectful

I realized when thinking about this problem, that I’ve never seen spam from a human rights organization. Why not? Perhaps companies that work based on positive ethical values care about their reputations, and realize that spam is not responsible.  Maybe they realize that people are less likely to buy from spammers. Responsible selling requires a respectful approach. As ethical expectations have increased, so have consumer reactions and legal penalties. 

How does spam inform us? Perhaps it is a red flag – not telling us to “purchase this product right now” but telling us that a company has questionable ethics.

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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!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

Leaders: Can Rights and Responsibilities Be Separated?

There-is-a-growing

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This week I want to take a moment to reflect on the question “Can rights and responsibilities be separated?” Clearly they are both part of good citizenship and ethical leadership. But what happens if we try to separate them?

Rights Without Responsibility?

If we demand our rights but fail to live up to our responsibilities, we will have a negative impact on others. 

If we assert individual rights without also taking responsibility, we are asking for more than we are willing to give. We are conveying that what we want is more important than what others want. We are demanding that our needs be met without caring about what happens to others.

Under those circumstances the answer to “Can rights and responsibilities be separated?” is “Yes, but not ethically.”

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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!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

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

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The first post in this series addressed ACCOUNTABILITY. In this second post we’ll take a look at IMPACT.

Here are 3 ways to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good) that improve the impact of your organization and your leadership. 

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)?

Improve Your Impact

  1. BE DEEPLY COMMITTED TO DOING GOOD: Take a hard look at the positive impact your organization is having in the communities you serve. Does the total impact say “deeply committed to doing good” or “trying to appear good?” Move toward “deeply committed to doing good” with intention.
  2. MAKE COMMUNITY SERVICE PART OF YOUR DAY TO DAY MISSION: Identify at least one important way that you are improving the communities you serve. If we stopped associates on the way in to work, would they all know what it is? If not, start the conversation and make the commitment today.
  3. COMMIT TO OFFERING SINCERE MUTUAL BENEFIT – FOR ASSOCIATES, COMMUNITIES & THE ORGANIZATION: Does the way you are improving communities also benefit your associates? Do they find meaning in volunteering their service and do you support them doing that during paid work hours? If not, make the financial commitment that backs the message and shows you care about associate AND communities.

Having a net positive impact on the communities we serve is an important part of good leadership, and our stakeholders will notice our efforts. 

Watch for more ways to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good) in the next post in the series!

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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!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

What Is Organizational Integrity?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Individual integrity is the full alignment in what a person thinks, says and does. Taking that concept to another level, this post will explore the question “what is organizational integrity?”

Clearly, organizational integrity is broader than individual integrity, but what does it include? It seems to me that taking the concept of individual integrity to the organizational level, organizational integrity would mean full alignment in what an organization thinks, says and does.

When an organization demonstrates full alignment, all company messages, actions, decisions, leadership and rewards align. It’s not enough to just ensure alignment, though, because alignment without values can lead an organization away from ethical decisions and actions.

Messages, actions, decisions, leadership and rewards  must be aligned around positive ethical values that the entire organization supports.

This positive values-based alignment in what an organization values, says and does creates the scaffolding for an ethical culture. What does your organization say it values? How consistently does it live out those values in daily practice?

If your leaders are all perfectly clear about which high level ethical values to uphold and how to demonstrate them, you are probably incorporating complexity into your leadership development. You are also probably providing leaders with the level of detail about ethical values that they need to navigate through information overload, constant change and demands from multiple stakeholders. If not, you may be rolling the dice by taking an “I’ll know it when I see it” approach to ethics.

Linda Fisher Thornton, “What Is Integrity?: Beyond I’ll Know it When I See It”, Leading in Context Blog

Leaders are the key to values alignment – they model and reinforce values and hold people accountable for following them. Organizational integrity (at its most effective) is what happens when leaders consistently immerse an organization in positive ethical values and align all leadership, actions, decisions, messages, and reward systems accordingly.

 

 

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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

 

 

5 Insights Into Leadership Development Future (Part 5)

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

This is the 5th post in a series called 5 Insights Into Leadership Development Future. 

Here are the 4 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

Part 4 on Positive Ethical Values and the Search For Meaning

This final post will build on the previous 4 posts in this series and discuss how to prepare leaders for the workplace of the future. 

To help leaders adapt to increasing global leadership expectations and catastrophic change, we’ll need to: 

  • RETHINK everything we’re doing to help people succeed in leadership
  • ZOOM OUT to give them the whole picture, and 
  • REBUILD their leader awareness at a higher level

Author’s Note: I have packed three years of leadership research across disciplines into the guide 7 Lenses to help you navigate the process. Chapters where you’ll find specific topics are noted below.

To respond to increasing ethical expectations and the need for meaning and growth, we’ll need to discuss:

  • Leadership as Both a Responsibility and an Opportunity (Part I)
  • Leadership as Relational (Chapter 5)
  • The Impact of Ethical Values on Creating a Positive Workplace Culture (Chapters 2 and 5)
  • The Human Impact of Trust (Chapter 5)

To help leaders take their thinking to a higher level, to handle the complexity of their challenges, we’ll need to dig into:

  • How Thinking Drives Behavior (With or Without a Leader’s Permission) (Chapter 6)
  • The Broad-Reaching Impact of Leader Choices (Chapter 3)
  • How Ethical Leaders Must be Personally and Contextually Congruent (Chapter 4)
  • The Kind of Thinking That Ethical Leaders Choose to Use (Chapter 6)

To help leaders stay motivated while they’re learning, we’ll need to provide:

  • Insight Into the Long-Term Nature of the Leadership Learning Journey (Chapter 1)
  • Tangible Benefits (to Leaders and Organizations) of Proactive Ethical Leadership (Chapter 2)
  • Tools and Strategies for Handling Complexity (Chapter 3)
  • Our Evolving Understanding of the Purpose of Leadership (Chapter 8)

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. We will need to stay ahead of that curve to prepare them. 
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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

Reflections on Truth (Are You a Seeker?)

 

If-you-would-be-a-real

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Reflections on Truth

We’ve heard the expressions “truth is in the eye of the beholder” and “the truth shall set you free.” What is this truth that so many have spoken of? How do we find it? How does it relate to ethics? Ponder those important questions as you explore this collection of quotes about truth.

A Collection of Important Quotes About Truth 

There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth.                                                                                                                                         Leo Tolstoy

Truth is certainly a branch of morality and a very important one to society.                                                                                                                                 Thomas Jefferson

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.                                                                                                   Marcus Aurelius

There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.                                                                                                                         Maya Angelou

If there were only one truth, you couldn’t paint a hundred canvases on the same theme.                                                                                                                Pablo Picasso

Justice and truth are such subtle points that our tools are too blunt to touch them accurately.                                                                                                         Blaise Pascal

The truth is a snare: you cannot have it, without being caught. You cannot have the truth in such a way that you catch it, but only in such a way that it catches you.

Soren Kierkegaard

The truth is rarely pure and never simple.

Oscar Wilde

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.             John F. Kennedy

People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe.                                                                                                         Andy Rooney

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.                                               Rene Descartes

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.
Buddha

Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also.

Carl Jung

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth’.
Dan Rather

The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.
Albert Einstein

According to the wisdom in these quotations, truth is not simple or easily found and there is an element of growth and open-mindedness required on the seeker’s journey. 

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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

Are You Squeezing Every Drop Out of Your Talent?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

You may have thought this post was going to be about how to get people to do more and to achieve more.  It is about that, but not in the way you might think. In my experience, when the leader improves, everybody can do more. Bear with me as I describe for you how you can get the most out of your people by squeezing every drop out of your own talent and potential.

Think about how carefully you squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube, or finish the last bit of orange juice before recycling the container. You want to get every drop, right? Applying that same mentality to your leadership, you’ll want to get the most out of it that you possibly can, by:

  • Learning proactively
  • Keeping up with changing leadership expectations
  • Staying competent in every aspect of your work
  • Reaching for your ethical best and setting a good example for others to follow
  • Asking your team how you can improve your leadership, and learning how to live up to their expectations

When you put consistent effort into leading, and work to get more out of your own talent, everyone on your team benefits. The results can be extraordinary. While it may seem counter-intuitive, squeezing every drop out of OUR leadership talent is what brings out THEIR best performance.

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Bring Out Your Leadership Best: Learn To See Through 7 Lenses®. 

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

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©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

Every Leader is a “Work in Progress” (Yes, Even You)

Every-leader-is-a-work

By Linda Fisher Thornton

When we reach a certain level of accomplishment as leaders, it is easy to think we can slide into neutral. Here are 14 compelling reasons why we can never afford to cut back on investing in our own leadership development and competence:

atching trends that impact our work and the success of those we lead

pening up to new feedback from followers and colleagues (and doing something about it!)

esponding to requests for new services, processes and communication channels

eeping up with changing times and technologies

 

nforming others of key information and engaging our networks in conversations about it

ever thinking we have “arrived” (leadership is a relational journey and the world is changing fast)

 

reparing for future challenges that we have identified through trend scanning

especting all other people including people who are not like us (it’s a constant learning experience)

ffering to take on new assignments and responsibilities

rowing into our new roles and responsibilities (whether we volunteered for them or not)

eaching for new skills and abilities to become the best leader we can be

ntertaining new ideas and perspectives on important issues (that don’t match our current beliefs)

implifying work and how we use our time to be able to keep up with increasing work complexity

tudying and responding to changing ethical expectations

Since our world and work are changing at the speed of complexity, every leader will always be a “work in progress.”

Top 100 Leadership Blog

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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

 

15 Quotes For Leadership Insight

We-should-never-settle (1)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

About once a year I like to gather up important quotes from the Leading in Context Blog and compile them into a post for readers who like quotes! See if you can find inspiration in these quotes about authentic ethical leadership – what it is, how to think about it, and how to do it. 

Each quote includes a link that takes you to the post that featured it. 

“Ethical leadership is much closer to home than we may readily admit. It isn’t somewhere ‘out there’ at all – it is us, right here and right now.  It is in our deeply-held values. It is in our day-to-day choices.  It is in our quest for good.”

“Growth may be difficult, but there isn’t any other way to fully embrace ethics. We must grow into our ethical competence…intentionally…over time. When we are tempted to take a shortcut and think about ethics as a class or a theory, we should remember this: The “body of knowledge” isn’t going to need to make tough ethical choices. We are.”

“When we are not open to learning, we can easily misinterpret another perspective that does not match our own as a threat.”

What is the most positive reason of all to care about creating an ethical culture? We get to help people learn to make positive choices based on ethical values before they have problems (instead of just cleaning up ethical messes when it’s too late).

“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.”

“I believe that we gain an understanding of the whole picture by taking in a broad array of information in the course of our lives. Without that kind of awareness, we are destined to understand the small pieces but miss the connections and the greater meaning.”

“Failing to prepare leaders for what they’ll face is not just potentially bad for their success, it’s also an ethical problem for their employees and for the organization. Without tools for handling complex challenges, people may make more mistakes than they need to. Some of those mistakes can be costly to the leader’s future and the organization’s reputation.”

“Trust is a hot topic and a valuable business enabler. The organizations that will adapt and succeed in the future make it a business priority.”

“The question about profit’s place in ethical leadership is a good one. At its best, ethics requires setting aside concerns about money and personal gain and doing what is best for others. But business leaders also have to keep their organizations afloat, and that requires thinking about money.”

“To make the boundaries of ethics clear, we need to explore the borders and grey areas. Trying to make things CLEAR and keeping them SIMPLE are not at all the same.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Ethical thinking means we never lose sight of our positive purpose. We choose to be the sum of our values, not our challenges.”

We are all Padawan learners on the ethical journey. We are subject to making mistakes, and we must continually learn to stay ahead of our ethical challenges.

27881-068-Edit-003My mission is to Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®. Each of these posts was written to help you bring out the best in your leaders and your organizations. Which one of these 15 insights do you find the most inspirational?

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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.

 

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

50 Ways to Lead For Trust (Part 3: The Last 20)

 

Make-Work-Meaningful-and (2)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This post is the third in a series on 50 Ways to Lead For Trust. Part 1 included numbers 1-15. Part 2 gave you 15 more, and this post includes the final 20 Ways to Lead For Trust.

Here are 20 more ways that you can build lasting trust through your daily leadership: 

31.  Ask What Keeps People From Success, and Remove Their Roadblocks

32.  Involve the Team in Charting Its Own Course For the Future

33.  Share the Credit

34.  Take Responsibility50-Ways-to-Lead-For-Trust

35.  Be Inclusive

36.  Support People’s Overall Well-Being

37.  Encourage Cooperation

38.  Bring Out Their Potential

39.  Promote Responsible Business

40. Trust Others To Do Great Work

41.  Require Respectful Interpersonal Behavior

42. Help People Handle Complexity

43. Ask Them to Work Smarter, Not Harder

44. Avoid Harm to Constituents

45. Do Good Works in the Community

46. Involve People in Service to Society

47. Be Positive and Proactive

48. Be Fair

49. Recognize Others

50. Make Work Meaningful and Rewarding

Use the 50 Ways to Lead For Trust to give yourself a “Trust Checkup.” Looking at these 50 actions, what will you choose to do TODAY to build a high-trust workplace where everyone can do great work?

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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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

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