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

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leadership is not easy. Leaders need to be inspired to lead with positive values while dealing with the goals and expectations of multiple stakeholders. 

Here are the previous posts in the series if you missed them: 

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

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

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? Part 3 (Manage the System)

The focus of this week’s post is on Ways to Inspire Leaders to Lead With Positive Ethical Values. Here are 3 ways to inspire leaders to reach for positive values – that also help you “do good” in your organization, community and world. 

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)?

Inspire Leaders to Lead With Positive Ethical Values

  1. MAKE LEADING WITH VALUES A NON-NEGOTIABLE STANDARD:  Non-negotiable performance standards should include respect, care, trust building and full inclusion.
  2. TEACH HOW TO LEAD WITH ETHICAL VALUES:  Leaders will need to talk through complex issues and explore how to maintain the “non-negotiable” values while making good business decisions at the same time. 
  3. MAKE LEADING WITH VALUES PAY OFF: Leaders who consistently model the “non-negotiable” values should be rewarded so that others get the message that those values are just as important to the organization as profitability and growth. 

These 3 ways to change the ethics quo will inspire leaders to reach for ethical values and ethical outcomes, fueling long-term organizational success. 

Top 100 Leadership Blog

axiombronze

 

 

See The Whole Picture Through 7 Lenses (That Are All Important) 

Includes case examples and questions.

Click the book cover for a preview.

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2017 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.

 

 

Top 100 Leadership Blog

axiombronze

 

 

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 The Future of Leadership Development (Part 1)

Leaders-must-learn-how
By Linda Fisher Thornton

In this series called “5 Insights Into the Future of Leadership Development” I will be sharing trends and learning resources that give us the broad picture of how to prepare leaders for success in a complex, connected global society. 

In a recent International Leadership Association Leadership Perspectives Webinar I shared my observations on trends that are advancing our understanding of “good leadership.” These trends are shaping how we develop leaders, moving us away from traditional approaches (that are no longer effective) and into new territory. In this first post in the series, I share my observations on broad global trends that are informing the changes in leader development.

Global Trends Informing Changes in Leader Development

INCREASING ETHICAL AWARENESS

  • Increased ethical awareness among consumers and a trend toward supporting ethical brands
  • Social media sharing discourages brands from using negative, unethical tactics
  • Growing awareness of the requirements for ethical leadership beyond laws and regulationslearning leader, leadership future, learning future,
  • General trend toward positive results in the social sciences
  • Increased focus on business metrics beyond the bottom line and on building Ethical Brand Value
  • Realization that our thoughts impact our actions and that we need to be intentional about our thinking and aware of our biases
  • Realization that our emotions play a more critical role in our ethics than previously understood

INCREASING EMPHASIS ON LEADING WITH POSITIVE VALUES

  • Growing awareness that values-based leadership transforms organizations and creates a competitive advantage
  • Changing leadership relationship puts more power with the employee, and more pressure on the leader to provide a positive work environment
  • Increasing globalization fuels expectations of cultural awareness and respect for differences
  • Increased value being placed on authenticity and higher levels of leadership development
  • Strong focus on human well-being combined with evidence that toxic leadership harms

CHANGING LEARNING LANDSCAPE

  • Learning how to handle complexity  (not just learning pre-determined key knowledge points)
  • Learning how to manage a ceaseless torrent of information
  • Learning to see connections, patterns and systems
  • Integrating ethical responsibility into all aspects of leader learning

These trends compel us to move away from a traditional knowledge-based approach to leadership development toward something more deeply transformational. Watch this blog for “5 Insights Into the Future of Leadership Development (Part 2)”! 

Top 100 Leadership Blog

axiombronze

 

 

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

With Ethics PREVENTION is the Cure

20150118_150650By Linda Fisher Thornton

Have you heard the expression “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Eating healthy foods, exercising and getting enough sleep will help us prevent health problems. In the quest for good health, preventive habits make all the difference. It is generally easier for us to establish healthy habits than to correct persistent health problems once they start. 

There is an important parallel we can draw between human health and organizational health – prevention is also the best way to approach ethics in our organizations.

An organization with a PREVENTION mindset will take the time to clarify, discuss, engage, enable, support and measure ethical culture. Leaders will accept responsibility and be recognized and rewarded for positive ethics as well as other measures of success. If leaders achieve results using less than stellar ethics, they are mentored and coached to change, and if they can’t change, they are asked to leave. This pattern leads to “culture improvement,” and encourages others to uphold the highest ethics throughout the organization.

Organizations with a PREVENTION mindset are setting leaders up to succeed in an ethical sense and reducing the chances of having ethical problems.

An organization with a CURE mindset on the other hand will not take the time to clarify, discuss, engage, enable, support and measure ethical culture. It will assume that everything is “just fine” and deal with problems as they happen. If leaders use less than stellar ethics to achieve results, they may still get lucrative rewards. This pattern leads to “culture slide,” a disastrous shift in the ethical culture that encourages employees throughout the organization to violate ethical principles in order to earn lucrative promotions, pay increases, bonuses and other rewards.

Organizations with a CURE mindset are addressing problems after they have already eroded ethics and become difficult to eradicate.

While it is tempting to put off important prevention work because it takes time, how much time would we spend cleaning up an ethical mess that leads to penalties and fines and hits the news headlines? That brings to mind another old saying – “We reap what we sow.” If we want to be an ethical organization, only prevention (a positive commitment to ethical values) is a reliable cure.

Top 100 Leadership Blog

 

 

axiombronze

 

 

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

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™

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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
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

5 Ways to Talk About Ethics (Without Being “Blah Blah Boring”)

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

We owe it to our employees to make ethics real. People learning ethics are often given “blah blah boring” material (and then expected to remember and apply it). I believe that this is not just a mistake, it’s a crime! Why? Because ethics is anything but boring. Ethics is really interesting stuff when you dive into its complexities.

Today I’m sharing 5 ways to talk about ethics without being “blah blah boring.” Feel free to use these as conversation starters with your teams, and let me know if they make your conversations more meaningful.

1. Ethics is human

Ethics is inherently human. It focuses on how broadly we consider our impact on others and honor their well-being. And “others” doesn’t just include our coworkers and customers. We have an ethical responsibility to many “others, ” even some who we may never meet.

How can we bring ethics to life in our conversations as a human responsibility – a responsibility to do good and avoid harm for an ever-broadening array of “others?”

2. Ethics is positive

Ethics is not just laws, regulations or ethics codes. Those are simply safety nets to keep us on the positive (and legal) side of ethics. Ethics is really about high level positive values like respect and care, service and sustainability.

How can we stop fixating on the safety nets, and start talking more about the positive values?

3. Ethics is multidimensional

There are hundreds of different terms used to describe ethics, and many angles from which to approach it. There’s personal ethics (integrity and character), interpersonal ethics (respect and care), environmental ethics (respect for life and sustainability) and societal ethics (supporting communities and the greater good). Add professional ethics (codes for each profession) and organizational ethical culture to the mix too.

How can we talk about the dimensions of what really matters in ethics instead of giving people oversimplified statements like “always do the right thing?”

4. Ethics is a system

Not only is ethics multidimensional, it’s also systemic. Building an ethical culture requires the alignment of many different aspects of ethics including expectations, communication and full accountability.

How can we help our leaders learn how to build an ethical high-trust culture where people can do their best work?

5. Ethics is a learning journey

Not only are we all human, striving to meet increasing ethics expectations as part of an organizational system, we’re also at different stages in our ethical development. We’re all learning. The very human challenges are for us to learn fast enough to keep up, and to aim high enough to act on values.

How can we bring ethics to life by talking about it as an ongoing learning journey toward positive values, rather than as a training event, a problem or a set of rules?

Boring ethics content will not get your organization where it needs to go. It may put people to sleep, or cause them to “check out” in future ethics conversations. Don’t settle for weak, oversimplified or vague messages as the scaffolding for your organization’s ethics. People need clear messages that are relevant and that help them deal with complexity. There’s too much at stake to rely on “blah blah boring.”

 

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

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For more, see 7 Lenses (foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey) 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
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Ethical Leadership Brings Out the Best in People and Organizations

Leading in Context Website

By Linda Fisher Thornton

After taking the Leading in Context website and branding back to the drawing board, this week I’m delighted to introduce the Leading in Context® Website version 2.0. The new website features:

  • A theme and focus on bringing out the best in leaders and organizations through ethical leadership
  • A new company logo
  • My Manifesto – a compelling statement of my beliefs about responsible leadership, designed to fuel the movement toward intentional and proactive ethical leadership (please pass it on!)
  • An announcement of my new leadership book coming out in paperback and digital versions this fall (more about this soon!)

Why did I do a complete website makeover? I didn’t think that the Leading in Context website adequately conveyed the positive power of ethical leadership. It didn’t place a stake in the ground and say “this is what I believe” and it may not have inspired you to take action… I hope that you will find that the Leading in Context website version 2.0 is a clear call to action.

I strongly believe that ethical leadership brings out the best in people and organizations. I have believed that for many years, and the current research only confirms what many of us have known all along. Ethical leadership is not just a good practice – when consistently applied it also propels people and organizations forward in many positive ways:

  • It releases productivity and energy toward good work
  • It creates the kind of culture where people feel valued and can bring their energy and their best ideas to work
  • It helps leaders and organizations compete and succeed in a crowded global marketplace
  • It appeals to ethically-aware consumers
  • It brings out the best in individuals, and that brings out the best in organizations

Join the movement to Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™ 

Read the statement of belief at LeadinginContext.com/Manifesto. Take the intentional journey to becoming the best leader you can be. Inspire your organization to release its potential through ethical leadership. Spread the word.

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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  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

10 Guides to Sustainable Business

SustainabilityBy Linda Fisher Thornton

Sustainability has become an expected part of good business leadership. Lynnette McIntire notes in her article 7 Sustainability Trends to Watch for in 2013 that “marketplace expectations have moved sustainability into the category of ‘business as usual.'”

While sustainability is becoming the norm, its scope is also broadening to include more than just environmental concerns. Brandon Tidwell points out in Top Corporate Sustainability Trends in 2013 (environmentalleader.com) that “creating a sustainable business not only benefits the planet, but it also impacts people – from employees and consumers to partners and local communities where we do business.”

10 Guides to Sustainable Business

Here are 10 Guides that provide direction and examples for implementing sustainability, and clarify the relationship between sustainability and other aspects of corporate social responsibility:

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Business: A Guide to Leadership Tasks and Functions, D’Amato, Henderson and Florence, Center for Creative Leadership, ccl.org

Sustainability Strategy, Deloitte.com

The Relationship Between Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility, Ebner and Baumgartner, Corporate Responsibility Research Conference, Dublin

Smart Steps to Sustainability: A Guide to Greening Your Small Business, epa.gov

Sustainability “How To” Guide Series: Getting Started, ifmafoundation.org

Business Guide for a Sustainable 2013, Julie Urlaub, Taigacompany.com/blog

What Everybody Ought to Know About Sustainability Leadership for 2013, Julie Urlaub, Taigacompany.com/blog

Ten Steps to Sustainable Business in 2013, Rowe and Bansal, IveyBusinessJournal.com

7 Sustainability Trends to Watch for in 2013, Lynnette McIntire, sustainablebusinessforum.com

Collaboration ‘Key’ For Sustainability Success in 2013, environmentalleader.com

Most Sustainable Businesses

For an interactive map of the most sustainable companies in the world, visit Global100.org.

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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 

 

Should Trust Be Freely Offered or Conditionally Earned?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

SAMSUNG

Should We Trust Right Away (or Wait for People to Show That They Can be Trusted)?

When we meet someone new, should we trust them right away? Should we assume that they are trustworthy and give them the benefit of the doubt, or should we hold back until we are sure that they are worthy of our trust?

Each of these approaches has a powerful impact on the trust level within our organization. One has a powerful positive effect and the other has a powerful negative effect. Let’s explore the pitfalls of waiting for others to earn our trust, and the benefits of extending trust freely.

Pitfalls of Waiting for Others to Earn Our Trust

We erode trust by waiting for others to earn our trust. If we meet someone new and think “They have to earn my trust,” then we are intentionally withholding trust from them. We are automatically assuming the worst about their intentions and their level of trustworthiness.

This “wait and see” way of thinking about trust can lead to a low trust culture in several ways.

  1. If we are wait for someone to be trustworthy (and assume that they won’t be), our assumption will change how we treat them. Think about how we might treat someone we think is untrustworthy. Will we be eager to share ideas, offer support and collaborate?
  2. If we are waiting for someone to prove that they are trustworthy before we trust them, how will they be able to tell that we are trustworthy? If we don’t use behaviors that extend trust, how can we expect them to trust us enough to extend trust?
  3. If each one of us is waiting to see if the other will earn trust, we will quickly descend into a stalemate, with neither one extending trust. It will be very difficult for us to work together successfully while stuck in this stalemate. We may even look for examples of the other person’s untrustworthiness (examples that  prove that we were right about them) and miss the positive things that they do.

Benefits of Extending Trust

We can build trust by assuming that people will be trustworthy. If we meet someone new and choose to trust them right away, we are automatically assuming the best about their intentions and their level of trustworthiness.

This type of “assuming positive intent” can lead to a high trust culture in several ways.

  1. If we expect someone to be trustworthy (and assume that they will be), our assumption will change how we treat them. Think about how we might treat someone we think is trustworthy. We will be eager to share ideas, offer support and collaborate.
  2. If we are not waiting for someone to prove that they are trustworthy before we trust them, we can demonstrate that we are trustworthy by extending trust to them. If we use behaviors that extend trust, we can expect them to more quickly trust us enough to extend trust in return.
  3. When one person extends trust, and the other reciprocates, it is easier to work together successfully. We may even look for examples of the other person’s trustworthiness (examples that  prove that we were right about them) and overlook the small negative things that they do.

Trust is Relational – It Takes Two

So which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Extending trust or earning trust?

Trust in the workplace works best if we give people the benefit of the doubt. We must reach out and extend trust in order to receive it.

Stephen M. R. Covey says it well in his book The Speed of Trust:

“Trust is reciprocal – in other words, the more you trust others, the more you, yourself are trusted in return.”

Stephen M. R. Covey, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

When we withhold trust as a general rule (for no good reason), we are eroding trust.   When we assume the best and extend trust (for no good reason), we are building trust.  

Sometimes people will disappoint us when we extend trust. Most of the time, though, people will delight us with how well they do when we expect the best from them.

Related Posts:

5 Unethical Phrases: Low Trust

Trustworthy Business Behavior

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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 Does Respect Look Like?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The Evolving Graphic

This graphic is a revision of one originally published on April 27, 2011 and includes multiple changes based on reader feedback. It was created to help leaders visualize what respectful and ethical behavior looks like in organizations.

WWhat Does  Respect Look Like?

The Respect Zones

The Green Zone is the optimal behavior for creativity, innovation, engagement and ethical behavior. The Yellow Zone is the minimum standard for ethical interpersonal behavior. The Red Zone includes behaviors that are not acceptable in the workplace.

If you want to build a respectful workplace, teach people to stay in the Yellow and Green Zones, and let them know that behaviors in the Red Zone are not acceptable.

This excerpt shared with you today is an abbreviated version of a full graphic called The Ethics of Interpersonal Behavior.

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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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