The Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making (Part 6)


By Linda Fisher Thornton

This series has explored 5 important spheres of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making. 

This week I’m summing it up in a checklist that will help you apply all 5 to your daily choices. When you are making a key decision, run it through the checklist to be sure you have considered all 5 important dimensions. 

Ethical Thinking and Decision Making Series

Leader Self-Check


Part 1: Deep Thinking

“When we dig into issues and explore their depths, we gain insights that we would otherwise miss. Complex issues just can’t be deconstructed and understood using shallow thinking. The meaningful insights are only found below the surface.”

Have I Used Deep Thinking?

___  I have looked beyond the surface level of the issue to learn about the connected variables that impact it.

___  I have asked for input from all constituent groups and listened carefully to what they see and believe.

___ I have carefully weighed conflicting information and evaluated the goals and needs of all stakeholders.

___ I have applied ethical values to make a responsible choice.

Part 2: Context

“Ignoring the context and making a quick decision often leads to costly and time-consuming fixes later… Taking the time to understand the context, we more easily make decisions that fall within the ethical zone.” 

Have I Carefully Considered the Context?

___ This choice is being made after looking beyond my usual sources of information and my trusted contacts to be sure that I see the whole picture from multiple perspectives.

___ This choice reflects careful consideration of information from a diverse collection of credible sources.

___ This choice “works” ethically in the particular setting.

___ This choice shows a willingness to adapt to a changing world and increasing ethical expectations.

Part 3: Complexity

“Complexity has become a way of life. To make ethical decisions, we must embrace it and incorporate it into our thinking processes. That means digging into issues until we understand their multiple dimensions, connections, and contradictions.”

Have I Sought to Understand the Complexity of the Issue?

___  I have looked for, noticed, and talked about the complexity of this issue.

___ I understand the multiple dimensions, connections, and contradictions involved and I am avoiding rushing to a quick decision.

___ I have worked to find clear, appropriate and compelling ways to communicate about this issue so that others can understand its complexity. 

___ I am taking informed action after understanding the complexity of the issue and I am approaching this issue in responsible ways. 

Part 4: Inclusion

“Full inclusion requires that we extend our respect, our care and our concern to all people… Applying full inclusion, we see that everyone is within our purvue, everyone demands our consideration, and everyone deserves to be treated well.”

Have I Treated Everyone With a High Degree of Respect and Care?

___ This choice shows that I understand that diversity is an asset and inclusion is a leadership responsibility.

___  I have honored the needs and perspectives of all constituents. 

___ I have used language that builds trust and not language that divides or inflames.

___ I have gone beyond token gestures of respect and care to demonstrate sincere concern for others outside of my trusted group.

Part 5: Change

“Once you do the work to understand the context, you’re never done. Change is continuous. The ripple effect created by economic and social change in one time zone rapidly impacts life in another.”

Have I Watched Closely For Patterns of Change and Adapted to Them?

___ I am acknowledging change and treating it as dynamic and constant.

___ I have watched for and noticed subtle and overt patterns and trends that impact this issue.

___ This choice shows that I want to build a positive, inclusive society for the future.

___ By making this choice, I am demonstrating that I lead in ways that are in step with the ethical expectations of leaders in a global society.


Click the cover to read a free preview!  

©2019 Leading in Context LLC



500th Post: Index to 500 Articles on Authentic Ethical Leadership


By Linda Fisher Thornton

There are many ways to define “ethical leadership” but there is increasing global interest in learning “ethical leadership” in a holistic and authentic way. This authentic ethical leadership takes us beyond laws and regulations, beyond respect for others and beyond traditional definitions of a business “win.” It generates a positive leadership legacy and a better shared future. If this sounds like the kind of leadership you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.

The Leading in Context Blog now includes 500 articles on high-level, holistic and global ethical leadership. This blog started off as a way to organize and share emerging research in my leadership classes.  Ten years later it has become a “go-to” site for organizational leaders across industries, university professors and seekers looking for a better way to lead. 

To celebrate having published 500 Posts over 10 years, I’ve shared a short video on one of my favorite reader questions – “What were you thinking including Profit (which has no moral grounding) in a model of ethical leadership? 

To help you on your ethical leadership learning journey, this Milestone post also includes a Leading in Context Blog Index.  What will you find? Every post published on the Leading in Context Blog since 2009, in date order with the newest posts first. If there is something you want to learn about ethical leadership, it is probably here. If it isn’t, post a comment to let me know what YOU want to learn more about. 

Do you want to understand how all of the ethical leadership concepts in these posts fit together? I distilled several years of intensive research into 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership, a clear guide to “seeing” ethical issues in seven important dimensions that apply across industries and geographic boundaries. Looking through all 7 Lenses you have a clear line of sight to making ethical choices and leading authentically for the long term. 

Enjoy the lifelong learning journey to ethical leadership… 

The Leading in Context Blog Index




Click the cover to read a free preview!  

©2019 Leading in Context LLC


5 Leadership Development Priorities

5 Leadership Development Priorities

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The recent post “It’s Not About Us” set a new daily record for the most views on the Leading in Context Blog. It described how our understanding of leadership has moved beyond a focus on the leader to a focus on creating shared value for others.


In a human development sense, our understanding of leadership has essentially “grown up” and moved past personal ego and a self-centered view of things.

This week, I want to share how the trends in our understanding of leadership are changing the fiber of what successful leadership looks like in organizations. If our organizations are not yet ready to respond to them, these trends should become our top priorities for leadership development.

5 Leadership Development Priorities


1.  Progressing from compliance-based ethics to values-based ethics.



2.  Getting comfortable with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (V.U.C.A.).



3.  Thinking like global citizens in a world of connecting systems.



4.  Embracing the responsibilities that come with leadership.



5.  Embracing the opportunities that come with leadership.



While these 5 leadership development priorities may seem challenging, the good news is that by addressing them proactively we will also be enabling the overall success of our organizations.

Leading with values and taking responsibility broadly helps us adapt

The clarity we find in leading with positive values makes decision-making easier, and helps us adapt to the rising expectations in a global marketplace. We are no longer buffeted by every small change in the law, because we are aiming at a much higher level, the level of human values.



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 





How Many Really Great Leaders Have You Worked For?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

How many really great leaders have you worked for?

If we’re very lucky, we will have had the chance to work for great leaders in most of the jobs we’ve held. However, when I ask people how many really great leaders they have had, they usually have to think pretty hard to come up with one or two.

I have been curious about whether or not what I’m hearing is representative of the general population. If we can’t think of more than one or two really great leaders out of the many jobs we’ve held – what does that say about the state of leadership?

So here’s a quick poll. Think back to the great leaders you’ve had in all of the jobs you’ve ever had, starting when you first held a job.  These are leaders who brought out the best in you. They demonstrated the highest ethics.  They made work fun and let you know you were a valuable member of the team. They encouraged individual and team accomplishment and helped you learn from mistakes. They inspired you to do more than you thought you could.

Answer the poll below and let’s see how the numbers really look. After you vote, click “View Results” to see what others are saying.

We should all work toward being the kind of leader that could be counted in this poll as a great one. Here are some questions to guide us on our journey.

What are we doing each day to intentionally be a great leader? 

What more could we do?

How would doing more make a difference in the lives of those we lead?


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  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 



Developing the Ethical Leader of the Future

by Linda Fisher Thornton

On Thursday, I spoke with Human Resource leaders attending the Richmond SHRM Strategic Leadership Conference about The Future of Ethics and Business Leadership.

The lens I used to frame the discussion was leadership development – how we can prepare leaders to lead ethically in a highly complex, connected future.

Here are some highlights from my presentation – a few of the important success principles for developing “Ethical Leader Future.”

Use a Values-Based Approach

  • When we aim our leadership ethics training toward meeting laws and regulations, we are aiming at the minimum standard.
  • A compliance-based approach to leadership ethics focuses on avoiding violations and penalties.
  • A values-based approach to leadership ethics teaches our leaders the values we want them to use as they make decisions every day.

Acknowledge Complexity

  • When we ignore complexity, we tend to teach the part of “ethical leadership” that is crystal clear and easy to explain (and that they probably already know).
  • Oversimplified messages lead to boredom and do not help leaders deal with the complexity that they face in their work.
  • When we acknowledge complexity, we help leaders resolve the natural tension between our leadership and performance expectations and our ethical expectations.
  • When leaders are able to practice dealing with complex ethical issues while they are learning, they are better prepared to make ethical decisions when faced with difficult decisions on the job.

Expect Respectful Behavior

  • We have a responsibility to expect respectful behavior, including teaching people what it looks like and how to use it successfully in conflict situations.
  • We are increasingly aware of the importance of honoring human rights and building workplaces that demonstrate full inclusion.
  • As the “Human” supporters and developers of the organization, Human Resources, Learning and Training departments have a responsibility to teach leaders how to create respectful workplaces, where people can do their best work.

Make Leaders Aware of Their Mindsets and Assumptions

  • Our behavior tends to follow our mindset. If we think that there is only one “right” way to do things, that is usually reflected in how we treat people who are doing things the way that makes sense for them.
  • Since we lead other people, and that involves relationships, we need to examine our assumptions and biases so that we don’t blindly let them influence our behavior.

Integrate Ethics and Leadership

  • Ethics and leadership should never be separated. To separate them when we are training leaders sends the message that there can be good leadership without ethics. What behavior might we get if all of our leaders believe that there can be good leadership without ethics?
  • Making ethics an integral part of all leadership development sends the message that “we lead ethically.”

Hold Leaders Accountable

  • Every leader at every level of the organization should be held accountable for ethical behavior.
  • With accountability for ethical behavior should also come opportunities to practice, and support while applying new skills.

Using these principles for success will help us prepare leaders to behave and lead ethically in an increasingly complex and connected world. Leaders already struggle with complex problems. We need to acknowledge that complexity and help them build the mindset to deal with it responsibly.


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  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2012 Leading in Context LLC 

Why We Need A Strong Moral Center

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The Need for A Strong Moral Center

The ethical challenges we face are increasingly complex, and we need a strong moral center to guide us through them. We can think about it as having a strong character, being principle-centered, having integrity, or following an ethical compass. No matter what we call it, we need a strong moral foundation.

“You don’t get the opportunity to think when those challenges to your moral integrity arise. You’ve got to have an anchor already out there. Sitting in these classrooms, getting this great education, is the perfect time to think about who you are and what you’ll allow yourself to do. Because you will be challenged at times when you least expect it and are least prepared to deal with it. If you don’t have a moral foundation, then the winds assaulting your integrity can blow you off course.”

Wharton Leadership Digest, FINDING YOUR MORAL COMPASS: Reflections From General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, online at

This moral center that we cultivate helps us make good choices in interactions with other people. It reminds us that we need to think beyond our own interests to the long-term well-being of others and society. It reminds us that how we treat others is an ethical choice.

“people with a strong moral identity were more considerate of others—and they were significantly more considerate if they were also good at regulating their emotions.”

Jason Marsh, The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence, Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, The Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley , online at

Developing a strong moral center is a long-term process. We build the foundation with support from our parents in our early years. We seek experiences that strengthen our moral center. We read throughout our lives. We learn. We study. We teach others.

I have noticed that many people who have a strong moral center also have a sense of humility.

Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.
— Confucius (K’ung Fu-tzu), Chinese sage (551-479 B.C.)

How are humility and a strong moral center connected?

A strong moral center helps us see beyond ourselves. Seeing beyond ourselves helps us realize our responsibility to others. Realizing our responsibility to serve and care for others keeps us humble.


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  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2012 Leading in Context LLC 

Civility is an Ethical Issue

by Linda Fisher Thornton

Civility is Part of  Ethical Behavior

The Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary defines civility as “polite, reasonable, and respectful behavior.” These behaviors are the ones we use when we treat others with care.

According to Michael Brannigan, The Pfaff Endowed Chair in Ethics and Moral Values at the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY., “Ethics deals fundamentally with how we treat each other on a daily basis. Indeed, our small acts of civility and incivility constitute the heart of morality.”

Responsible leaders know that civility is the minimum standard for how we should treat others. As members of a society, we are expected to behave in ways that allow others to pursue their life’s work and to contribute fully to that society.

Civility is at the Core of Ethical Leadership

Treating others with respect and care is an important part of being a good citizen, and it is a “load-bearing beam” that provides a foundation for ethical leadership.
According to Wikipedia‘s definition, “Ethical leadership is leadership that is involved in leading in a manner that respects the rights and dignity of others.” (Trevino, Brown and Hartman, 2003)
In their article, “The Moral Foundations of Ethical Leadership” in the Journal of Values Based Leadership,  Joseph P. Hester and Don R. Killian conclude that:

Civility has in the past been on the sidelines of ethical discussions, and we can agree that its role has been neglected. As we have incorporated strands of insights from moral theorists and sociologists, we agreed that civility ― this unfocused value ― can no longer be ignored. We can’t speak about ethics and moral behaviors without talking about community, issues of morality exposed by human need, and the moral role that civility plays in the leadership culture.

Joseph P. Hester and Don R. Killian, “The Moral Foundations of Ethical Leadership,” The Journal of Values Based Leadership, online at

Civility is an ethical issue in a global society. Ethical leadership includes the responsibility for treating others with respect and care, even when it’s not convenient, and even when it impacts profitability.  This responsibility includes:

  • respecting others
  • avoiding harm
  • building trust
  • reducing stress
  • listening to others (regardless of their position)
  • engaging people in meaningful work, and
  • providing an environment where everyone can do their best

Civility is a “load-bearing beam” in the foundation of ethical leadership. Ethical companies accept nothing less.

Questions for Discussion:

1. How clearly do our performance standards specify that we expect respectful behavior?

2. Do all of our leaders know that civility is the minimum standard for behavior in our organization?

3. How well are we backing up our performance expectations by holding people accountable for using ethical interpersonal behavior?

4. How can we make our expectation for respectful behavior clearer?

5. How can we strengthen the accountability for using ethical interpersonal behavior at all levels of leadership?


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  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2012 Leading in Context LLC 

The Leadership Development Advantage

by Linda Fisher Thornton

Developing Leaders Pays Off

Ongoing development for leaders helps companies. According to several recent reports, businesses that invest in leadership development enjoy clear advantages. These advantages include improved bench strength, improved talent retention and greater market value over time.

Here is a list of some of the financial and non-financial advantages of investing in leadership development, and the white papers that document them. As you read, consider how improving leadership improves the entire organization in ways that benefit companies, leaders, customers, employees, and communities.

Advantages of Investing in Leadership Development

  • Improved business growth
  • Improved bench strength
  • Improved employee retention
  • Improved bottom-line performance
  • Improved ability to attract talent
  • Solving problems earlier and at lower levels
  • Increased organizational agility
  • Improved business sustainability
  • Greater market value over time

Reports Documenting the Benefits of Leadership Development

Bersin & Associates found that businesses that invest in leadership development enjoy improved business growth, bench strength and employee retention. (New Bersin & Associates Research Shows that Organizations with High-Impact Leadership Development Strategies Build a Different Breed of Leader and Generate Seven Times Greater Business Impact, online at

JP Dolan wrote in 40 Best Companies for Leadership Development: How Top Companies Excel in Leadership Development that companies that excel in leadership development generate dramatically greater market value over time (online at

The Center for Creative Leadership report Driving Performance: Why Leadership Development Matters in Difficult Times (online at says that leadership development during difficult economic times helps companies emerge stronger than the competition, improves bottom-line financial performance, improves ability to attract and retain talent and increases organizational agility.

The Career Management Consultants in “Enhancing Leadership Capability” ( reported that The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) “found that high performing organisations are five times as effective at leadership development than low performing organisations and 86 per cent of respondents cited leadership development as a critical business issue” (The Best Get Better: Critical Human Capital Issues of 2012, i4cp, April 2012). The report also noted that “leadership capability has a direct impact on bottom line results and business sustainability.”

The Growthwave White Paper “Unleash Leadership Talent – Increase Business Performance (online at reports that “Companies that focus on developing leadership abilities deep into the organization are able to identify and solve problems earlier and at lower levels. This allows higher-level leaders to not get distracted by the details at the expense of strategic performance. Unleashing leadership potential deep in the organization creates capacity to significantly increase business performance.”

Questions for Reflection

1. How well does our leadership development prepare leaders for successful leadership in our organization?

2. What problems are we experiencing that improving leadership competence would help resolve?

3. What are we going to do about it?


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  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2012 Leading in Context LLC 

Scholars and Practitioners: Debate or Collaborate?

Working Together to Advance Our Understanding

Scholars and practitioners often see the world from different perspectives, providing an opportunity for them to learn from one another.  Such an opportunity only helps us advance our understanding of ethics and ethical leadership if we take advantage of it.

Marshall Goldsmith, in his article “The Sunk Cost Fallacy” in Talent Management Magazine (November 2011) remembers behaviors he has observed in his colleagues.

When my UCLA colleagues would respond defensively, even violently, to well-meaning constructive criticism of their research papers, I saw it as another sign of the sunk cost fallacy. They were so attached to their years of hard researching they couldn’t brook an alternative viewpoint.

Marshall Goldsmith in The Sunk Costs Fallacy, Talent Management Magazine, November 2011

Scholars seek to prove that ideas are valid through research, and practitioners seek to prove that ideas “work” in today’s complex and connected society. It takes both a research focus and a focus on real-world relevance to provide the kind of clarity about ethical leadership that today’s leaders need.

Choosing Respectful Collaboration

I am saddened by the many times I see scholars and practitioners judging one another and trying to prove each other wrong. Defensive and judgmental reactions to other people’s ideas and feedback signal an unwillingness to learn.

Linda M. David, in her article “Perspective Shift – The Power to Change Your Mind” (Training and Development, November 2011) says that “the concept of shifting perspectives is a tool that will give you a wider view of most situations you encounter and, with practice, expand the options for how you perceive your world.”

Philip Friedrich points out in his article “Feedback as a Gift” (Training and Development, January 2012) that

Too often we reject the gift of feedback before we even understand it by explaining, justifying or rationalizing our actions. Explaining why we did or didn’t do something is a form of defensiveness that slams the door on opportunities for growth.

Choosing A Learning Perspective

Learning to shift our perspective and to be open to the ideas of others keeps us learning. The alternative choices (being defensive and  judging others) do not.

When we are defensive, we aren’t hearing valuable insights and observations that others offer, and we are:

  • Protecting our “turf” (our ideas)
  • Pushing away anyone who is “too interested” and “getting too close for comfort”
  • Closed to the ideas of others that could make our work better

When we are judging others, we are not open to learning from them.  When we judge we are:

  • Discouraging others from doing their “good works”
  • Moving away from a collaborative mindset, and
  • Missing the learning opportunity

When we choose to adopt a learning perspective, we believe that:

  • Ideas are made to be talked about and improved
  • We are more knowledgeable collectively than we are individually
  • We grow and advance our work by learning
 I am optimistic that we can enrich our understanding of ethical leadership with the experience of executive leaders and the rigor of scholarly inquiry, without devaluing either, and achieve the clarity that today’s leaders need.
Related Leading in Context Blog Posts: 

Thinking Beyond Disciplines: Why We Need It

Ethical Leadership Thinking: When We Attack An Issue

The Ethical Leadership Puzzle: A Broader View

Ethical Grey Areas: Our Choices Define Us


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  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2012 Leading in Context LLC 

Thinking Beyond Disciplines: Why We Need it

What is Transdisciplinarity?

The Institute for the Future and the University of Phoenix Research Institute list transdisciplinarity as #7 in a list of skills critical for Workforce 2020. They define it as “understanding concepts across multiple disciplines.”

Why is it Important?

Why is it increasingly important to understand concepts across multiple disciplines?

  • The problems we are trying to solve are increasingly complex.
  • The view from within any one discipline can be too narrow to provide a clear solution to a complex problem
  • Looking beyond the boundaries of knowledge that define a discipline can help us solve problems and understand complex information in a new way, using a broader view.

Transdisciplinarity connotes a research strategy that crosses many disciplinary boundaries to create a holistic approach.

Transdisciplinarity at

How Does Thinking More Broadly Help Us Lead Responsibly?

Broadening our thinking is particularly helpful in understanding concepts like “ethical leadership” which involves leading within multiple interrelated systems and meeting the needs of multiple constituents responsibly.

Sometimes looking at a problem from a single perspective may cause us to overlook important systems that are not completely within the scope of that one perspective.

Systems don’t stop where the boundaries of a discipline stop. That means that we need to broaden our view to avoid missing important pieces of the problem we’re trying to solve or the responsibility we’re trying to fulfill.

Looking at the research and information across disciplines helps us understand complex, connected systems and problems in a broader context. That broader level of thinking is the level that we’ll need to use to solve today’s complex, connected problems.

Transdisciplinarity and Ethics

Transdisciplinary ethics seeks to describe ethics in ways that transcend any particular discipline or profession.

 “Transdisciplinary Studies are an area of research and education that addresses contemporary issues that cannot be solved by one or even a few points-of-view. It brings together academic experts, field practitioners, community members, research scientists, political leaders, and business owners among others to solve some of the pressing problems facing the world, from the local to the global.”

“The values embedded in the transdisciplinary vision are basic: sharing, respect, and resolve.” “It is a distinctly postmodern point-of-view, calling on women and men, on “transdisciplinary-minded persons of all countries” to join in bringing this vision into reality, into “everyday life.” It is a bold vision; some might even say an impossible one, filled with a zeal for justice, equality, inclusion, and true democratic decision-making.”

Transdisciplinary Studies,

“As the prefix trans indicates, transdisciplinarity concerns that which is at once between the disciplines, across different disciplines, and beyond all discipline.” – Basarab Nicolecsu, 2002 quoted by the Woodbury Institute of Transdiciplinary Studies

When solving difficult problems, consider looking across disciplines for clues. Stepping back far enough to look across disciplines may lead you to an elegant solution.

Learn More

These articles discuss the broad values and value of interdisciplinary research, thinking and ethics.

Overview of Transdisciplinarity as Methodology McGregor Consulting Group

Unity of Knowledge From Transdisciplinary Research on Sustainability by G. Hirsch Hadorn

From Inter-Disciplinary Ethics to Trans-Disciplinary Ethics  NCBI,


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  @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



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

© 2011 Leading in Context LLC 


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