Top 10 Posts 2017: Leading in Context Blog



By Linda Fisher Thornton

Of the 52 posts published on the Leading in Context Blog in 2017, these 10 were the most popular. See if you notice a theme that connects these topics that readers accessed most frequently:

Do Good Things Come to Those Who Wait?

Everyone is a Stakeholder at Some Level

Ethical Leadership is About Service, Not Privilege

Ethical Leadership: The “On” Switch For Adaptability

Talking About What Matters (Part 1)

4 Connected Trends Shaping the Future of Leadership

The Evolving Purpose of Leadership: Why More is Expected Now

Yes, Leaders: Behavior Matters

5 Sites For Globally Responsible Business Leadership

Is Our Leadership “Good?”

If I had to pick a theme for these posts that were most popular in 2017, it would be “Leaders Adapt to Rising Stakeholder Expectations.” Which 2017 post was your favorite? If you have ethical leadership topics you want to learn more about in 2018, comment on this post, or tweet your idea to @leadingincontxt!

Top 100 Leadership Blog





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©2018 Leading in Context LLC


Leaders: Does Your Values Equation Add Up?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Every leader has a values equation. It can be calculated by the day, week, year and lifetime. In the ideal situation, a leader’s values equation is consistently positive. 

How do you calculate your values equation?

Take the number of your intentionally positive values-based actions.

Add to it the number of ethical decisions you have struggled to make well.

Subtract the number of times you have acted in any of these unethical ways:

  1. Too busy to be available to those you lead
  2. Disrespectful to anyone
  3. Self-interested
  4. Putting profit before people and the planet 
  5. Not making time to learn
  6. Not really listening 
  7. Misleading, leaving out the context
  8. Not getting to know the people you lead as unique individuals
  9. Paying more attention to your own career success than to theirs
  10. (You get the idea….)

You won’t be able to calculate an exact number due to the speed of work and life, but you will be able to get a clear idea of whether your values equation is more positive than negative. 

Ethical leadership is difficult to get right all the time. 

Ethical leaders may make mistakes, but they learn and improve. The best leaders understand the importance of a values equation that’s positive – not just today, but every day, week and year… They know leading with a positive values equation is the most important legacy they can leave. 

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©2017 Leading in Context LLC


Ethics-Rich Leadership: Why We Need It


By Linda Fisher Thornton

I was originally going to use the words “ethics-infused leadership” in this post, but I realized that would treat ethics a little bit like a lime twist in a cold drink. The drink would hint of lime, but it wouldn’t be FULL of lime. So I chose to use “ethics-rich” leadership instead.

I think you may already be looking for the ethics-rich leadership I’m talking about. 

Ethics-rich leaders create a “safe space” for people that brings out their best. They leaders grow people, paying great attention to individual learning, challenges, potential and  opportunities.

Ethics-rich leaders also create a “safe space” for teams that brings out their best. They help teams learn to respect, include and engage all constituents for the most positive possible outcomes.

Why Do We Need Ethics-Rich Leadership?

Many of our biggest leadership issues are global and long term. We need to get past the distraction of ethics scandals in the news to move forward with a new kind of leadership.

What does it look like? The ethics-rich leadership we seek:

  1. Considers respect, care and long-term thinking to be minimum standards.
  2. Protects our best interests as well as their own.
  3. Respects and honors the values behind our laws and doesn’t try to find loopholes for personal gain.
  4. Leads with positive ethical values, respectfully dealing with difficult issues when people don’t agree on the best solutions.
  5.  Never pretends to “know.” Instead this leader listens, scans, gathers, learns, questions, synthesizes and uses the ethics-rich mindset “I will always be a work-in-progress.

What Does It Look Like In Action?

Anyone can divide people and cause trouble. We need leaders who unite people around positive ethical values.

But it isn’t enough for leaders to just bring people together around values. 

We need leaders who do the work required to understand complex issues so they can make good decisions.

But it isn’t enough for leaders to just unite people around values and do the hard work to understand complex issues so they can make good decisions. 

We need leaders who care about constituents.

But it isn’t enough for leaders to just unite people around values, do the hard work to understand complex issues so they can make good decisions, and show they care about constituents.

We also need leaders who seek mutual benefit, not just “self-serving benefits.”

Ethics-rich leadership, after all, isn’t about position power – it’s about values power. It treats values as the essential business tools they are.  Ethics-rich leaders will reap the ultimate rewards – in transformational performance. 

Top 100 Leadership Blog





Learn How to Think in all 7 Ethical Dimensions of Leadership




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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2017 Leading in Context LLC


Great Leaders Unite

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The most capable and ethically competent leaders reach for unity, which represents the highest levels of interpersonal and global responsibility. While it would be much easier, the best leaders don’t just aim for “getting along” or “getting by.”
Queen Elizabeth II said “I know of no single formula for success. But over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together.”
Great leaders use meaningful connections, shared values and mutual understanding to bring people together. Their decisions and chosen paths are mutually beneficial for multiple constituents. They understand leadership as a process of bringing out the individual and collective best in others for the long-term good.

The words and actions of the best leaders unite and uplift rather than divide and tear down. They use a calm demeanor and peaceful means to reach desired ends. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Divide and rule, the politician cries; unite and lead, is watchword of the wise.”

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





Ethical Leaders See Their Choices Through All 7 Lenses

Includes case examples and questions.

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leaders

The Power of Trustworthy Leadership


When-people-trust-theirBy Linda Fisher Thornton

Why is trustworthy leadership so powerful? How does it set a positive tone and lead organizations to better performance? These 5 reasons quickly come to mind.

 The Power of Trustworthy Leadership

1. Leading with values creates a safe work environment and builds trust.

2. When people trust their leaders, they are free to create amazing work.

3. When people trust their leaders, they are also more likely to trust each other.

4. Organizations with high trust release the natural creativity and potential of the people who work there.

5. The transformational effects of #1-4 above propel high-trust organizations to greater performance.

Leading in ways that build trust releases the inherent potential within the organization and its people. It brings out everyone’s best. And it’s gaining momentum. Are you part of the Trust Movement?

Top 100 Leadership Blog






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

Includes case examples and questions.   Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

Ethics Isn’t Finite: It’s Evolving

2013-07-05 20.36.26By Linda Fisher Thornton

As we strive to build ethical organizations, we must remember that our target is moving. As the world changes, ethical expectations change.

It would be easier to develop ethical leaders and build ethical organizations if ethics were a fixed destination. A point on the map. A line in the sand. But it’s just not that simple.

Ethical expectations are evolving.

As we learn more about the impact of our choices on others, society and the environment, ethical expectations are increasing. The changes reflect a better understanding of how we need to live on this planet we call home in ways that are sustainable in the long run.

Some leaders still mistakenly think about ethics in terms of short-term gains and losses, but the trend is toward thinking broadly and long-term about our choices.

Keeping up with evolving ethical expectations is a challenge that ethical organizations take on. They seek out information about consumer expectations and trends. They embrace meeting changing expectations as part of their leadership responsibility. They always want to know how they can improve.

The trend is toward thinking broadly and long-term about our choices.

Responding to evolving expectations helps organizations stay competitive. It helps them engage employees who want to make a difference. It helps them be ready for success in the future world of business. Because our understanding of ethics is always evolving, we must aim for where it’s headed, not where it’s been.


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  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

About This Blog and an Opportunity to Help Shape it

This blog was started in order to help leaders find cutting edge, research-based, practical tools for improving leadership and leadership development in today’s business world.  The focus is on ethical, results-based leadership.

“There are a variety of reasons why CLOs are finding that the leadership ethics problem is not easily solved: The definition of leadership ethics is still unclear; its scope is broadening, making it a moving target; ethics is hard to talk about; and the most useful leadership ethics programs are company-specific.  So, we have an unclear topic that is in flux, on a subject that is itself a gray area. We have a general discomfort talking about the subject, and an off-the-shelf training program isn’t going to fix the problem.”   

Linda Fisher Thornton, “Leadership Ethics Training: Why is it So Hard to Get it Right?”  Training and Development Journal, September 2009.


Take a moment to make this blog work for you! Please post a comment letting me know what kinds of practical leadership information you are having trouble finding. I will build some of my future posts around reader questions and comments.

For New Blog Posts, visit


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  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2009 Leading in Context LLC 


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