Here's What Isn't Cancelled

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I have become aware – as I imagine you may have too – that trying to maintain a sense of normalcy isn’t possible right now. I realized today, as I read yet another event cancellation, that I would be better off focusing on all the things that are NOT cancelled.

If I choose to focus on normalcy, I can lament how many events have been cancelled or how many people are socially isolating in my house who hadn’t planned to be at home full time. If I compare what’s happening now to the normal routine, things look pretty bad.

But if I let go of trying to maintain a sense of normalcy and focus on adapting and just doing the best I can under terrible circumstances, here’s what begins to happen:

  • I notice that the mock cherry in the front yard is in full bloom
  • I am grateful that my next keynote has become a webinar instead of being cancelled
  • I enjoy having time to make french toast for dinner, with the whole house smelling of cinnamon
  • I enjoy game nights with the whole family at home

Slowing down to appreciate what we do have during the pandemic is hard. If we stop trying to “get things back to normal,” we will be better prepared to adapt to the challenge.

Here’s What Isn’t Cancelled:

  • Hope
  • Perseverence
  • Joy
  • Ingenuity
  • Kindness
  • Resourcefulness
  • Creativity
  • Love
  • Humor

I remember when Hurricane Isabel hit us hard in Virginia. Neighbors chatted across fences, and people slowed down to appreciate what they had in spite of the challenge. We were without power for days.

While we are dealing with risks and decisions that we have never faced before in our lifetimes, I still have plenty of things to write in my gratitude journal each night. We have electricity. The weather is improving. In spite of everything, flowers are blooming right on schedule.

The pandemic is a much bigger challenge than Hurricane Isabel and will take much longer to deal with. But there is something we can do. We can take a moment each day to think about the things that really matter – the things that aren’t cancelled.

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™


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  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

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


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™ 


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  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Understanding Leader Bias: 5 Sources

5 Sources for Understanding and Avoiding Leader Bias

1. “The Vision Renewal Process: How to Achieve Bias-Free Leadership” Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D. Worforce Diversity Network

2. “Your Leadership Bias” Dave Jensen, Dave Jensen on Leadership

3.  “How do Leaders Avoid Bias?”  Richard Charkin, Common Purpose Blog

4. “Avoiding Bias” Bob Korn, Responsible Thinking: Principles

5. “APA Stylistics: Avoiding Bias”  Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

%d bloggers like this: