Ethical Leadership Context

The Context for Ethical Leadership is Broader Than You May Think

The context for understanding ethical leadership is evolving as we connect information from a wide variety of disciplines that have not traditionally worked together. Here are some quotes from the Leading in Context Blog that illustrate the edges of  its context:

Curiosity and Imagination

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, in Leading in Context Blog Post “Curiosity and Imagination Necessary Ingredients in Ethical Culture” published May 18, 2011.

Beyond Profit

The trouble with using a profit-based definition of “ethics” is that by using profitability as a way to make decisions an entire spectrum of other issues is conveniently ignored. In order to avoid this trap and to move away from profit-based thinking, it’s important to broaden the variables we consider when making business decisions to include:

  • The impact of my products and services on consumers and society
  • The impact of my business operations on the planet
  • The long-term unintended consequences of my choices
  • The changing consumer mindset toward ethical business and avoiding harm
  • The erosion of customer confidence in my products, services and ethics
Linda Fisher Thornton, in Leading in Context Blog Post “Profit-Based Ethics: The Mindset Behind It” published May 11, 2011.
Harm and Inclusion

As we better understand how we are connected as a global society, and our thinking about ethical leadership evolves, our standards of  expected behavior begin to change.

We don’t accept treating people disrespectfully or abusively.

We tolerate less harm.

We think of harm more broadly.

We expect leaders to be inclusive.

We think of inclusion more inclusively.

…It raises the stakes for all of us.

Linda Fisher Thornton, in Leading in Context Blog Post “Curiosity and Imagination Necessary Ingredients in Ethical Culture” published May 18, 2011.

Respect and Trust
Have you noticed a trend toward more respectful behavior? Customers and employees aren’t accepting anything less. People are helping each other more, and sharing what they know more. They are expecting a higher standard of trust, respect and ethics.
Linda Fisher Thornton, in Leading in Context Blog Post “Leadership and…Respect: The New Minimum Standard for Workplace Behavior” published February 2, 2011.

 

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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

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Ethics at the Intersection

How Do We Determine Our Ethics as Leaders?

Why is it such a challenge to determine how we interpret “ethical leadership?” Because there are many different ways of determining what we consider to be ethical.  Even while trying to be responsible we can still miss the mark by a mile.

Consider some of the possible ways that a leader might interpret ethics.

Ethics in a Vacuum

  • Looks at “ethics” in a silo, investigating deeply rather than broadly
  • Excludes areas that others consider to be part of ethical leadership
  • Ignores how emerging knowledge in other areas of practice should impact ethical leadership
Ethics of Convenience
  • Determines what is ethical based on individual values and selectively chosen research
  • Defines “ethics” in the context that provides the most benefits for the interpreter
  • Often fiercely defends own decisions as “ethical” using judgemental words and blame

Ethics in a Historical Context

  • Defines ethics based on the knowledge of  ethics scholars and historical thinkers
  • Uses historical ideas to solve today’s complex challenges
  • Ignores the current evolving leadership context and new research
  • Limits the boundaries of ethics to those that have been extensively written about and studied

Ethics at the Intersection

  • Determines what is ethical based on a holistic view of ethics
  • Changes definition of “ethical” based on new research. .. not finite… ever evolving
  • Considers research beyond the boundaries of “formal ethics” to include the impact of  choices on employee engagement, innovation and more
  • Takes an integrative perspective, looking at what we can learn from the places where many disciplines intersect (for example:  philosophy, psychology, sociology, ecology and leadership)
While we cannot ignore what we have learned from the past, we also cannot ignore what we are learning in the present. It is equally important to take a broad and integrative approach, not limiting the scope of our view to incorporate only that which is personally familiar or personally beneficial.  A combination of approaches is probably the most responsible, studying the historical understanding of ethics but not being restricted by its boundaries, and studying the emerging knowledge without losing sight of its historical context.
522For 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

© 2011 Leading in Context LLC 

People-Based “Ethics”: The Mindset Behind it

How People-Based Ethics Plays Out in the Business World

If I interpret ethical leadership as people-based, then I will make decisions that maximize people benefits and reduce harm to people.  Using “People-Based Ethics” I may choose to help people manage workplace stress, ensure a healthy culture for them to work in, hold people accountable for good leadership and offer generous benefit and vacation programs so that employees may balance work and home responsibilities. I may offer community volunteer programs and support local programs that feed the hungry or support other human needs.

The Trouble With Using Only People-Based “Ethics”

Being concerned about people is a very important aspect of ethical leadership. The trouble with using only a people-based definition of “ethics” is that by using the impact on people as the only way to make decisions we may be ignoring these other variables:

  • The impact of our business operations on the planet
  • The long-term unintended consequences of our choices
  • The changing consumer mindset toward sustainable business and avoiding harm

Moving Beyond “People-Based” Thinking

Whenever we think about ethics in only one dimension, even though we are diligently managing that area of focus, we are always ignoring another. In order to avoid limiting our ethical thinking to “people” we need to broaden the variables that we consider when making business decisions to also include the planet and long-term consequences of our actions on society.

 

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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

© 2011 Leading in Context LLC 

11 Learning & Development Reports 2011

In 2011 we know more about how people learn, and as leaders we have a responsibility to adapt our corporate learning practices as times change. Here is an index for leaders of current research, articles and predictions about learning:

Special Report: Learning Delivery 2011 Chief Learning Officer, clomedia.com

10 Predictions for 2011: Trends That Will Reshape the Training Industry Training Industry Inc, trainingindustry.com

Top Tools for Learning: Emerging Trends  Jane Hart, in Learning Technologies Magazine

Learning Technology Trends to Watch in 2011 theelearningcoach.com

Business Training Trends in 2011 Integration Training, integrationtraining.co.uk

Learning and the State of Business 2011 Bob Lee, in Chief Learning Officer

Directory of Learning Tools 2011 Center for Learning and Performance Technologies, c4lpt.co.uk

Trends in Learning and Development 2010 2012 Summary Overlap R & D Team, on slideshare.net

The State of Learning Delivery on Mobile Devices in 2011  Marci Paino in Chief Learning Officer, clomedia.com

Continued Dedication to Workplace Learning Laleh Patel, at astd.org

Evaluating Training and Learning Circa 2011 Tom Gram, at performancexdesign.wordpress.com

522For 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

© 2011 Leading in Context LLC 

100th Blog Post: The Ethical Leadership Training Challenge

I am delighted to report that this is the 100th Leading in Context blog post! Special thanks to all of you who are subscribers and regular readers!

Today’s graphic is a Wordle of my article “Ethical Leadership Training: Why is it So Hard to Get it Right?”  published in the September 2009 issue of Training and Development by the American Society of Training and Development and reprinted in The Best of Leadership 2009: Leadership Development issue.

The scope of leadership ethics is broadening. Leadership ethics used to be about honesty, integrity, fairness, following rules and laws, and being true to your values. Now, in the global marketplace, with fierce competition for business and resources, the scope of problems that can occur in leadership ethics has expanded exponentially.

The global scope means that the issues we encounter may involve the widely differing values, rules, and laws of multiple companies and cultures. The way that we define “leadership ethics” has to be different in this new marketplace and has to incorporate more than individual values.

Linda Fisher Thornton in “Leadership Ethics Training: Why is it So Hard To Get It Right?, Training and Development Journal, American Society for Training and Development,  September 2009.

To read the complete article:  LeadinginContext.com/Articles 

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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

© 2011 Leading in Context LLC 

Curiosity and Imagination Necessary Ingredients in Ethical Business

Questions About Curiosity and Imagination 

What happens in business environments where curiosity and imagination flourish?  How are curiosity and imagination related to ethics and business leadership?How are curiosity and imagination important in today’s business environment?

Why Curiosity and Imagination Matter

Some of the ways that curiosity and imagination matter in business environments include that:

  • Curiosity Helps Keeps People Open, Listening to Each Other and Engaged in Working Together
  • Curiosity and Imagination Allow People to See Issues From Multiple Perspectives
  • Curiosity and Imagination Help People Solve Problems
  • With Good Leadership, Curiosity and Imagination Become Innovation
  • Innovation Helps Companies Adapt
  • Adapting Helps Companies Stay Competitive

But are Curiosity and Imagination Really Necessary in Ethics?

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?

“I shall argue that the role of curiosity and imagination for both science and ethics is so important that nurturing them can be seen as an ethical obligation and suppressing them as ethically problematic.”

EH Loewy, University of California, Davis Medical Center in his article  “Curiosity, Imagination, Compassion, Science and Ethics: Do Curiosity and Imagination Serve a Central Function?” in Health Care Analysis

Thinking More Broadly, Within Boundaries

We wouldn’t want people to be limited to only using familiar ideas, and on the other hand we wouldn’t want people to act on every idea they may come up with. The paradox is resolved by cultivating imagination in the context of ethical boundaries for behavior. A high-trust, high-expectation culture sets the stage for both imagination and ethical behavior.

“Why do we need an ethics of imagination?  Because ethics without imagination is dogma, and imagination without ethics is dangerous. ”

Wrye Sententia, in her article The Ethics of Imagination: The Space Between Your Ears, Journal of Geoethical Nanotechnology

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. ”

Albert Einstein

 For Further Reading: 

I’m Curious: Can we Teach Curiosity? by Chris Guthrie, Hamline University

Curiosity, Imagination and Failure: The New Big Three by Zane Safrit, American Express Open Forum

5 Unethical Phrases: Low Trust by Linda Fisher Thornton, LeadinginContext.com

Ethical Interpersonal Behavior Graphic: Red, Green and Yellow Zones by Linda Fisher Thornton, LeadinginContext.com

Cultivating Curiosity, CuriousMind.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 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
  About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2011 Leading in Context LLC 


Profit-Based “Ethics”: The Mindset Behind It

Inside The Mindset of Profit-Based “Ethics”

If I interpret ethical leadership as profit-based, then I will make decisions that maximize profits. Sometimes those decisions may ignore the long-term consequences of my decisions and I may choose to cut corners now in order to increase short-term profits, without considering how that may affect others.

How the Mindset Impacts Day-to-Day Business Decisions 

How does a profitability mindset affect my decision-making? A cheaper ingredient, added in order to increase profits, may end up being identified as unhealthy or even cancerous. If my ethics are profitability-focused, then as long as it’s not illegal to use the ingredient right now, then I believe that I made a “good decision” to use it while I can  – until it is banned.

Getting Beyond Profit-Based Ethics

The trouble with using a profit-based definition of “ethics” is that by using profitability as a way to make decisions an entire spectrum of other issues is conveniently ignored. In order to avoid this trap and to move away from profit-based thinking, it’s important to broaden the variables we consider when making business decisions to include:

  • The impact of my products and services on consumers and society
  • The impact of my business operations on the planet
  • The long-term unintended consequences of my choices
  • The changing consumer mindset toward ethical business and avoiding harm
  • The erosion of customer confidence in my products, services and ethics

 

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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

© 2011 Leading in Context LLC 

 


Ethical Interpersonal Behavior Graphic: Red, Yellow and Green Zones

How We Treat Each Other Matters

There has been quite a bit of concern expressed recently in the blogosphere about the need for respectful behavior in the workplace and in our day-to-day interactions with one another.  Those of you who have expressed concern about harmful behavior, please let me know if this context graphic is useful in providing clear boundaries for interpersonal behavior.

Three Zones of Interpersonal Behavior

The graphic shows three color-coded zones of interpersonal behavior. The green zone  says “go – this behavior is ethical,”  the yellow zone cautions “this level is the ethical floor – don’t go below it,” the red zone says “stop – this behavior is not appropriate in the workplace.”  The full 17-block version of the diagram designed to be used as a training handout is available in the Leading in Context® Store.

 

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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

© 2011 Leading in Context LLC 

Food Ethics: The Delicate Balance of Nature and Nutrition

© Microsoft

The Delicate Balance of Nature and Nutrition

We are learning through research that nutrition is more complex and delicately balanced than we had thought. Changing foods or using only part of a food that we think of as healthy may change the health benefits drastically.

Savvy consumers today tend to look for whole foods that have the natural health benefits that our bodies need.

The food industry is adapting by removing chemical additives and incorporating more whole grains back into foods:

The Food and Drug Administration is making changes to food safety laws that many consider to be long overdue. I noticed that school lunches got a major overhaul this year:

Whole Foods Provide Benefits Not Found in the Parts

What happens when you remove part of a food? It turns out that there are nutritional benefits in the whole food that are not gained from eating parts of the food.

Here is an interesting example of what happens when you remove the husk from grains of rice:

  • whole brown rice (lower glycemic index – 55) (gluten free) (whole grain)
  • white rice (which is whole brown rice with the fibrous husk removed) –  (higher glycemic index – 64)(may not be gluten free due to contents in sprayed-on vitamins to add vitamins back)

Linus Pauling Institute at the University of Oregon

“Is white rice gluten free…?” at Yahoo.com

The Simple Answer: It’s Whole for a Reason

When food is consumed in its natural whole state, it seems to include necessary factors that regulate the body, prevent disease and regulate weight. When it is altered to appeal to consumer tastes or to increase profits, the negative health impact appears to be dramatic.

Altered foods (such as the brown rice/white rice example) increase the body’s glycemic load. Higher glycemic load is implicated in diabetes and obesity among other health problems that are currently escalating.

Several lines of recent scientific evidence have shown that individuals who followed a low-GI diet over many years were at a lower risk for developing both type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease than others. High blood glucose levels or repeated glycemic “spikes” following a meal may promote these diseases by increasing oxidative stress to the vasculature and also by the direct increase in insulin levels.[11]   “Glycemic Index” – Wikipedia

According to this study, whole foods take more energy to digest and eating whole foods burns more calories than eating processed foods:

Should We Consider Altered Food (Without the Health Benefits of Whole Food) to Be “Food”?

Three questions that we should ponder…

  1. Should “food” by definition only include food from nature that has not been changed?
  2. Should “food” by definition have to include all of the parts that came from nature?
  3. Should “food” by definition be healthful for humans?

For More Information

Center for Science in the Public Interest

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/foods/grains/gigl.html

http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OC/OfficeofFoods/ucm241192.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food

 

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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

© 2011 Leading in Context LLC 

Ethical Leadership: C-Suite Problems Should Be Corrected Quickly

What Would You Call These C-Suite Behaviors?

The title of the list below could be “Ethical Leadership Problems” or it could just as easily be “Things to do in Order to Ensure That Your Business Will Fail.” Are any senior leaders in your organization doing any of these things?
  • Failing to stay current in a professional field
  • Refusing to listen to company employees
  • Violating company leadership standards, but asking others to meet them
  • Making decisions without seeking input
  • Skipping training required of other company-wide leaders
  • Asking employees to do work you are not willing to do

Why Does C-Suite Behavior Matter So Much?

C-Suite behavior matters because people do what they see the senior leaders do. If employees see dysfunctional behaviors among senior leaders, they assume that there is complete acceptance of those dysfunctional behaviors throughout the organization and see it as a “green light” for them to use those same behaviors whenever they like.

Why Aren’t C-Suite Problems Dealt With Quickly?

It is definitely uncomfortable to talk with a senior leader about behaviors that are bad for the organization. That discomfort can lead to delaying the conversation until the situation has gotten out of hand.

The “green light” that employees “see” that may lead them to use negative behaviors when a senior leader does can cause those problems to spread like a virus until you have moved from one C-Suite leader using dysfunctional behaviors to an entire organization using dysfunctional behaviors.

Don’t wait.

Want to Learn More?

Lessons From Team Fumbles: How senior leadership teams can make-or break-an organization by Susan Lucia Annunzio, chiefexecutive.net

In the article Why Do Businesses and Leaders Fail? Dan McCarthy references Jim Collin’s book “Why the Mighty Fall” and discusses more destructive leadership behaviors that can lead to business failure.

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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

© 2011 Leading in Context LLC 

Highlights From The Donchian Symposium: Evolving Perspectives on Ethics

Tree-Lined Road The Donchian Symposium: Evolving Perspectives on Ethics, held recently at the University of Richmond, was a groundbreaking cross-disciplinary look at how cultural perspectives on ethical leadership are changing. Presenters raised emerging issues and cultural challenges related to ethics in ways that made them clear and compelling.

I thoroughly enjoyed the event, and especially appreciated the fact that scholars, interested citizens and business people sat side by side and shared their reactions to what they were learning.

If you did not attend, it would be well worth your time to review the highlights from the Symposium, which are available online.  The Donchian Symposium: Evolving Perspectives on Ethics held at the University of Richmond on September 20, 2010.

Where do you learn about ethical leadership? What information are you having trouble finding? What would be helpful to you?

 

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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

© 2010 Leading in Context LLC 

Planned Obsolescence: Is it Ethical? No. Can We Still Have the Newest Gadgets? Yes!

Is Planned Obsolescence Ethical?  Every business should know its position on this important question.  Do you know yours?

Many companies have the technology to make products that last far longer, and choose not to use it. You know what comes next – the products wear out faster and we have to buy them more often. Is that a responsible way to achieve profitability? Here are some opinions on that question (all of which could be used for good leader discussions about how your company deals with the question).

A video overview:  The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Articles

Is Planned Obsolescence Socially Responsible? by Sharon Beder in Engineers Australia

What is Planned Obsolescence? by Wisegeek.com

Creative Destruction and Destructive Creations: Environmental Ethics and Planned Obsolescence by Joseph Guiltinan, Journal of Business Ethics

There are environmentally friendly solutions that don’t require that we give up our love for gadgets. This article proposes one way to do it.

How Planned Obsolescence Can Be Good for the Planet by Collin Dunn

What are the Next Steps?

  • Use these resources to get your business thinking about less wasteful ways to deliver products and services.
  • Ask your customers what they think about the changes you come up with.
  • Post a comment here about changes you are making to balance the “newest” gadgets with earth-friendly strategies for making and distributing them.
  • Subscribe to the Leading in Context™ Blog to stay in the loop!

 

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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

© 2010 Leading in Context LLC 

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