Leaders: Is An Insider Mindset Ethical?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leaders focus on the good of their teams, organizations and communities. They work to achieve challenging goals and outcomes and they handle day-to-day crises. HOW they do that is shaped by their mindsets.

What Is An Insider Mindset?

One leader mindset that does not guide leaders to ethical choices is the “insider mindset.” When we think of the word “insider,” we may think of “insider trading” (having an unfair advantage) or “insider information” (possessing knowledge that provides a special advantage). According to Merriam Webster, the word “insider” means “special privilege or status” and has these synonyms: connection, contact, big shot, bigwig, somebody, VIP.

At the core of ethics is thinking beyond ourselves. When we use an insider mindset, though, we place ourselves in the “special seat” and from that point of view it is easier to discount the needs and concerns of others. Applying an insider mindset, it is tempting to ignore the laws and protections that keep us from taking advantage of others.

What Does It Lead To?

Using an “insider mindset” a leader might think it perfectly fine to share “insider” information with a select few in the inner circle for their own benefit. The leader might refuse to share the information publicly even when confronted, since sharing it would take the leader out of the “special seat” and spread the VIP advantage around to everyone else.

Is It Ethical?

Good leaders know that the power of leadership is in its ability to bring out the best in others, which in turn brings out the best in the leader. The leader’s power, then, is not reliant on any special inside information or advantage since it resides in the potential of every member of the team.

An insider mindset has a critical flaw when it comes to ethics. It conveniently “overlooks” the leadership responsibility to protect and serve others before ourselves. It “looks away” from responsibilities that are at the core of good leadership. For these reasons, there is no place for an “insider mindset” in ethical leadership.

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©2020 Leading in Context LLC

 

Foster Your Ethical Brand Reputation

Connect Magazine Feature

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Connect Magazine invited me to weigh in on why ethical brand reputation is so important and how brands can build and foster stronger images.­

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In this article I share practical advice on protecting ethical brands and five top leadership trends I see unfolding in 2020. 

It’s worth a read for those who want to use the time during the pandemic to figure out how they can build a stronger company and a stronger brand that is ready for an uncertain future. 

“While we would like to think that we are in control of our brand image, it is really shaped by our ethical choices… To build and foster strong images, brands can activate and amplify their values.” 

— Linda Fisher Thornton in Connect Magazine

Important questions answered in this Q&A Feature: 

  • Why is it important for every brand to have a strong, consistent image today?
  • What are some of the ways brands can build and foster stronger images?
  • What leadership trends do you see unfolding?
  • What’s the theory behind your “7 Lenses” philosophy?

Read the Q & A Feature in Connect Magazine (page 13, the last printed page before the back cover)

After reviewing the insights in the feature article, share your own ideas in the comments. You’ll find additional curated resources on ethical brands below.  

More Curated Resources on Ethical Brands:

Ethical Branding: A Guide For Creating More Ethical Brands, thebrandingjournal.com

The Impact of Ethics on Brand Reputational Value, lighthouse-services.com

Product and Brand, Markkula Center For Applied Ethics, scu.edu

How Should Ethics Factor Into Your Brand Identity? Serenity Gibbons, forbes.com

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LeadinginContext.com  

©2020 Leading in Context LLC

“While we would like to think that we are in control of our brand image, it is really shaped by our ethical choices… To build and foster strong images, brands can activate and amplify their values.” 

Leadership Lessons We Can Learn From Isolation

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Some people may think that the change we are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 is a temporary inconvenience, but it’s much more than that. It’s a wake-up call that we have been living too close to the edge, rushing through precious moments. We have been postponing sustainable practices that can contribute to our wellness and the well-being of the planet. Now that the pandemic has slowed the clock on the daily rush hour and frequent flyer miles, we can see what clean air looks like. Our leadership responsibility, like the air above our cities, is clear.

During a pandemic, successful leaders spend time noticing, appreciating, encouraging, focusing and getting comfortable with leaning and leading into the unknown.

Noticing:

We need to hear the sound of chirping birds,

and notice the gradual opening of summer flowers.

We need to notice neighbors caring about each other,

finding ways to reach out,

and helping each other through challenging times.

Appreciating:

We can appreciate simple things,

like time with each other,

or another day of being well (or getting well).

We can be grateful for those who sacrifice and risk so we can stay well,

and for businesses of all sizes finding new ways of delivering goods and

services to help us through difficult times.

Encouraging:

We can support and encourage each other

because work and life have become more challenging,

and online classes bring additional hurdles to overcome.

Helping each other helps us get through it,

as we change the ways we work and live.

Focusing:

We can stay focused on positive outcomes,

in spite of the continual barrage of bad news that each day brings.

When there is less structure in a work-from-home scenario,

and being an essential worker brings so many risks,

it’s easy to become distracted and fearful.

With so many challenges we must overcome,

we must intentionally focus our time and efforts

on the positive outcomes we’re working toward.

Leaning Into the Unknown:

It takes courage to keep getting up and facing the unknown,

when we don’t know how long this will last.

We don’t know whether or not we will get sick,

and if we do, whether or not we will get well.

Each day is precious.

Leading Into the Unknown:

Leading during a pandemic is moving beyond self-preservation

to guide others to safety.

It’s putting our own mask on first and then assisting others.

While we find our way through this unknown space,

our leadership will determine the outcome for others.

We need to overcome our own fear and shift into sense-making

so that we can guide others.

As messages and data sources conflict, we need to dig deeper

to understand what’s really happening,

and determine the best way forward.

That will be the only way to make sure

that the outcome for us and for others is positive.

What I hope is that we take this new fully-present comfort-with-the-unknown that we are learning with us for the rest of our lives, and when the threat of the pandemic has waned, that we continue to apply it in our leadership as if every day mattered.

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©2020 Leading in Context LLC

 

Are Best Practices Really Best?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Organizations are facing multiple connected challenges. First, they need to prevent ethical mistakes in a high speed, highly transparent business environment. Second, they need to engage leaders in relevant ethical learning so that the principles “stick” and are used to handle real problems. Third, they need to help leaders apply ethical thinking so they don’t just take “best practices” at face value.

“The ‘supply side’ of ethics — i.e., organizations’ ability to avoid ethical lapses — has never been more challenging.”

Ghassan Khoury and Maria Semykoz, The New Frontier of Business Ethics, Gallup

The important thing to remember is that we are helping people learn HOW to think, not WHAT to think. Paul Thagard, PhD, a Canadian philisopher and cognitive scientist says that “ethical judgments are often highly emotional, when people express their strong approval or disapproval of various acts.   Whether they are also rational depends on whether the cognitive appraisal that is part of emotion is done well or badly.” (Paul Thagard, PhD, Ethical Thinking Should be Rational AND Emotional, Psychology Today)

Teaching ethical reasoning is not about teaching what one should do in particular circumstances, it is about teaching students how wisely to make very difficult decisions involving ethical considerations where the answers are anything but clear cut.

Robert J. Sternberg, Cornell University, Developing ethical reasoning and/or ethical decision making

If we want to implement ethical decisions, we will need to do our own ethical thinking and not borrow the thinking of others. Approaches considered “best practices” are often used as blueprints by organizations, but that is not always an effective approach when the goal is ethical thinking.

Tony Schwartz, in his HBR article What it Takes to Think Deeply About Complex Problems, reminds us that “managing complexity requires courage ­— the willingness to sit in the discomfort of uncertainty and let its rivers run through us.” He explains that “the best practice is to not overrely on best practices, which typically emerge from our current assumptions and worldview.

Replicating best practices is common since it seems to save organizations quite a bit of time and money. The problem is that the “best practice” that earned one organization a desired result may or may not have been derived using ethical thinking. It can be efficient, cost effective and impactful AND look like an amazing shortcut, but that “best practice” may not honor all of our organization’s values.

We need to do the work to apply ethical values to avoid replicating flawed thinking in our organizations. We can’t skip carefully ethical consideration just because an action is described as a “best practice.” To drive this point home, ask leader groups to run some “industry best practices” through your organization’s values to see how well they hold up.

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©2020 Leading in Context LLC

 

10 Tricky Questions About Ethics and Leadership Answered

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Go Into the New Year With Answers

What is the Ultimate Goal of Leadership?

“The question is not “Which one of these perspectives is right?” because they are all important ways of thinking about the goal of leadership. They are part of a bigger view that incorporates many dimensions of leadership responsibility. The question is “How can we honor all of them?”

What Does it Mean to Take Responsibility in Leadership?

“These surveys reflect increasing expectations for business leaders  – the expectations that we take responsibility well beyond managing our own Profits, to also improve life for People, support the success of Communities and protect the Planet. Profits and Corporate Social Responsibility are no longer seen as mutually exclusive ideals.” 

Why Do People Often Disagree About The Right Thing To Do?

“Why is it so difficult to agree on the right thing to do? One of the reasons we may not agree is that each of us may be using a different definition of what is “good.” Here are 7 different interpretations of what is ethically good, based on the framework in 7 Lenses

What is an Ethical Workplace?

“Grounding our work in values is critically important but it’s not enough. There’s much more to being ready for the future of leadership than just staying aligned with positive values. This week I’m sharing a graphic about 5 other variables that need to be in place to build a positive ethical culture – the proper time orientation, focus, response, level and complexity.

What is Integrity?

“Following this definition, integrity is the alignment of our thoughts, actions and words with our personal values.  The tricky thing about integrity in organizations is that integrity is partly internal (what we think) and partly external (what we say and do).”

What is Conscious Capitalism?

“Conscious capitalism involves thinking beyond self-interests, demonstrating care for stakeholders at the global level, using a long-term time orientation and seeing the company’s role in the world through a systems view.”

What is the Greater Good?

“Many people refer to the “greater good” as an important part of leading ethically, and use different words to describe it. The descriptions they use collectively paint a picture of a responsibility to think beyond ourselves and to work for a better, inclusive society.”

What is Authentic Leadership?

“I believe that the following 14 personal, interpersonal and societal dimensions together form what we think of as authenticity. They involve overcoming the internal and external barriers to living an intentional, aware and ethical life.”

As you review these reader favorites, think about how you will adapt to changing ethical leadership expectations.”

As you plan for a successful year, keep in mind that ethics is a hot topic for consumers. How well you understand and apply ethical business leadership will have a strong bearing on your success.

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LeadinginContext.com  

©2020 Leading in Context LLC

Why It’s Time to Stop Saying We’re “Better Than” Other People

By Linda Fisher Thornton

It’s time to stop telling leaders they will only succeed if they are “better than” the competition. It’s time for business schools to stop telling students that they are “better than” their peers in the class or “better than” students in other programs. It’s time for teachers and religious leaders to stop telling people they can be “better than” everyone else.

Why is the “better than” message so harmful? It focuses on status and power instead of relationships, trust and collaboration, which represent the real currency for success. It sends the message that we have to “beat out” others to succeed, leading people to use either-or-thinking, not higher level systems thinking which is needed for success in a systems world.

The old message “Look to your left, look to your right. One of those people won’t be here by the end of the year” advocates beating people down and throwing them away when they don’t perform, instead of lifting them up and helping them succeed.

Competent leaders and educators aren’t using or teaching this kind of “better than” language because it’s an unethical message. It leads to unwanted behaviors, undue interpersonal tension and unethical competition.

As we move toward an inclusive society that works for all, the message that anyone is “better than” others undermines our progress and perpetuates old paradigms that can be harmful. The only way we should be using “better than” is in terms of our behavior and performance, not in comparing ourselves to other people. Are we better than we were yesterday and the day before? That’s how we will reach the elusive win.

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©2019 Leading in Context LLC

Interview on the Leveraging Thought Leadership Podcast

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Today I’m sharing my recent interview with Peter Winick on the Leveraging Thought Leadership Podcast.  We had an interesting conversation about my journey including how I got my start, challenges I faced and “growing into” this important work.

Click on the graphic above to hear the Leveraging Thought Leadership Podcast Interview with Peter Winick. The challenges I faced helped me grow and become a more authentic advocate for ethical leadership. Listen in!

 

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2019 Leading in Context LLC

 

Ethical Thinking Through the 7 LensesMay 22, 2019

Register

 

Ethical Leadership: Complexity, Context and Adaptation

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethical leadership requires growth, a willingness to acknowledge complexity and an understanding of the broader context in which we lead. Use these resources to improve your ethical awareness, learn about how the leadership context is evolving and check for learning blind spots.

To Learn About Ethics and Complexity:

To Learn About Ethics and Context:

To Learn About Ethics and Adaptation:

 

 

Special Series Celebrating the 2nd Printing of 7 Lenses

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 1)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 2)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 3)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 4)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 5)

 

Top 100 Leadership Blog

LeadinginContext.com  

©2018 Leading in Context LLC

117 Trends to Watch in 2017

By Linda Fisher Thornton

There are many changes underway that will impact your leadership and your business this year. Adapting to them will require shifts in direction and focus, while staying grounded in positive ethical values. Get settled in with your favorite morning brew and review these trend reports to see what you can expect in the New Year.

117 Trends That Should be on Your Radar in 2017:

The Consumer Sector in 2030: Trends and Questions to Consider, McKinsey & Company

10 Workplace Trends You’ll See in 2017, Forbes.com

7 Leadership Development Trends, Forum

5 Consumer Trends for 2017,Trendwatching.com

Health and Wellness the Trillion Dollar Industry in 2017: Key Research Highlights, Euromonitor International

26 Disruptive Tech Trends For the Rest of the Decade, Brian Solis

Future State 2030: The Global Megatrends Shaping Governments, KPMG.com

The four key consumer trends for 2017, BlueNotes, anz.com

7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2017, Forbes.com

The Future of Luxury: Five Trends Reshaping Luxury Consumerism in 2017 and Beyond, Trendwatching.com

5 Digital Marketing Trends in 2017 You Need to Prepare for Now, IBM THINKMarketing

10 HR Trnds You Will See in 2017, Successories.com

As we approach 2017, be sure your leadership team is ready for what’s ahead.


Learn how to adapt your leadership to global trends: Read 7 Lenses (preview below).

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.

Click the book cover for a preview.

 

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

Is Our Ethics Who We Are Or What We Do?

 

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This week’s question is about what defines our ethics – “Is our ethics based on who we are or what we do?” Some people would argue that we have a persona, a manner, that is either ethical or not. Others would say that it is our decisions and actions that define how ethical we are, and therefore our ethicality changes from moment to moment.

Instead of trying to decide which perspective is right, we would be well advised to take our lead from Aristotle. He conveyed in his famous quote “we are what we repeatedly do” that our ethical persona and actions cannot be separated. 

Top 100 Leadership Blog

axiombronze

 

 

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

 

Advice For Leaders: John Mattone Blog Interview

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

This week I am honored to share with you an Expert Interview that I did for the John Mattone Blog at JohnMattone.com. This interview explores my business journey and includes advice for leaders about learning and applying ethical leadership.

It addresses issues that concern leaders including:

  • qualities of ethical leaders
  • the multidimensional nature of ethical leadership
  • learning ethical thinking
  • identifying ethical leaders, and 
  • measuring leadership success.

Check out the article at the link below!

Expert Interview With Linda Fisher Thornton on the John Mattone Blog

 

 

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

Top 10 Leading in Context Posts of 2015

 

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Of the 52 posts published on the Leading in Context Blog in 2015, these 10 were the reader favorites. See if you notice a theme that connects these topics that readers accessed most frequently:

1. Imagining the Future of Leadership

2. Just Say No to 10 Behaviors That Kill Competence

3. 40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture (An Ethical To Do List)

4. Why Do People Lead?

5. What is Authentic Leadership?

6. 7 Questions For Ethical Culture Building

7. What is Positive Leadership?

8. Trust is a Relationship (Not a Commodity)

9. Helping Young People Become Ethical Leaders

10. 11 Paths to Ethical Leadership Competence

If I had to pick a theme that incorporates all of these favorites, I’d choose the theme “Becoming Our Ethical Best.” If there are ethical leadership topics you want to learn more about in 2016, let me know! Post a comment here or include @leadingincontxt in your Tweet.

 

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®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

Want To Thrive in Leadership Future? Tether Yourself To Values

ethical values

By Linda Fisher Thornton

It would be “easy […] for organizations and leaders to become frozen by the magnitude of the changes under way” (McKinsey & Co., Management Intuition For the Next 50 Years). Success in future leadership requires being nimble and adaptive, flexing with constant change, and being ready for anything. 

How should we stay grounded as we avoid crises and manage our way through a maze of increasing expectations?

Without  a place to stand where we know what we believe, without a center to which we can return, we are adrift and at risk from the strong winds of short-sighted opportunism and unethical leadership.

Our center needs to be firmly grounded in values.

Without attaching ourselves to ethical values, we risk being swept toward the next shiny, compelling opportunity that presents itself (but is ethically the wrong thing to do).

We are assaulted with information (overloaded doesn’t begin to describe it) and desperately searching for meaning. 

To thrive as leaders in this unpredictable future, we need to create meaning for ourselves and those we lead in the form of ethical values. Those values which we hold tightly will guide us as we make difficult decisions. They will help us avoid mistakes.

Values will guide us and those we lead through difficult times. 

Without ethical values to guide us, we can forget who we are creating value for, and what our responsibilities are to our constituents. To thrive in leadership future, we need to tether ourselves to ethical values and hold on for dear life as the storm rages on.

7LensesStanding

 

We believe that ethics, integrity and trust are critical to our success.

…But what are we doing to clarify them, to tether our work to them, to teach our organizations how to apply them?

…Are we doing enough?

 

7 Lenses™ Workshops Engage Organizational Leaders in Learning:

  • what it really means to lead with “integrity”
  • how to center daily work in ethical values
  • what is means to be morally aware and ethically competent
  • how to lead in ways that bring out the best in others
  • how to use clear ethical thinking and decision-making
  • how to build lasting trust
  • how doing all of the above transforms organizational results

Scheduling Now for 2015:  Info@LeadinginContext.com

 …Are we doing enough?

 

 

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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 

Making a Difference in the World

Making a DifferenceBy Linda Fisher Thornton

One Person Can Make A Difference

I believe that there is much more to leadership than going through the daily tasks and assignments on our to-do lists. In my Manifesto about ethical leadership, this is how I defined the importance of leaders making a positive difference:

“We make a difference in the world. We realize that the planet, our communities, and the long-term good of world are also our constituents. We know that our role is to think and act in ways that honor our planet, our communities and our world. We do good without doing harm.”

The Leading in Context® Manifesto

There is More to Leadership

There is much more to leadership than just being at the front of the room during a meeting, or working with the team to make the big decisions. I find that the most rewarding part of leadership is making a difference – in people’s lives, in the community, or in the world. While making a difference may seem like a lofty goal, consider these examples of how much difference one person on a mission can make:

How ‘Difference Makers Think’ — The Single Greatest Secret to Personal and Business Success, David Sturt, Forbes.com

How to Change the World, John-Paul Flintoff, in Utne Reader

I can think of several leaders who changed the course of my life through their support, example and teaching. Today, in your daily leadership, choose to be that kind of leader – the kind who makes a lasting difference.

 

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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

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

Possibility, Service and Making a Difference

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The Manifesto

Recently, I released the Leading in Context Manifesto, a bold statement about the kind of ethical leadership  that I believe we need to use every day. Today, I want to explore the mindset behind the Manifesto. It opens with this statement about our purpose as leaders:

“We are here to focus on what’s right and what’s possible, not on what’s historical or convenient. We are here to serve others, not to profit from their vulnerabilities. We are here to make a positive difference, through intentional leadership and responsible choices.”

The Leading in Context® Manifesto

Possibility, Service and Making a Difference

The Mindsets

How do these three important mindsets move us toward our goal of being a great leader?

Possibility

Service

Making a Difference

How do they inform our choices?

What is their effect on our teams and organizations?

The Impact

When we lead for possibility, we reach for the potential of people and organizations. We expect the best of ourselves and others. We accomplish more than we thought we could.

When we lead for service, we see ourselves in a role of making life better for others. We look for ways to do that every day. We lead in ways that improve lives and communities. We do more than we have to do.

When we lead to make a positive difference, we believe that one dedicated leader can have a positive impact, and we continually look for ways to make a difference through our leadership. We think about the legacy we are leaving for future generations.

There’s another important concept mentioned in that statement that cannot be overlooked – doing what is right. It doesn’t stand alone. It’s reliant on the strength of our moral center, and embedded in how we think about the purpose of leadership.

Questions to Ponder : Are we more likely to do what is right when we intentionally Lead For Possibility?; When we Lead For Service?;  When we Lead To Make a Positive Difference?;  How do these mindsets help us make more responsible choices?

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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

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

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