Detachment and Ethics Don’t Mix

20150804_194451By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethics and detachment don’t mix. In fact, combining high ethical expectations with detached behavior can lead to trouble. 

How can “detached leadership” contribute to ethical problems?

  • When we seem unapproachable, people are less likely to bring up ethical problems they’ve observed
  • Removing ourselves from day-to-day work keeps us unaware of ethical issues and potential ethical hot spots
  • When we are unapproachable and unaware, we can seem unconcerned, leading people to think that ethics is not a priority

Hands-off leadership can be as bad as micromanagement in terms of its ultimate impact on organizational ethics. When leaders lock themselves away and are not available to those they lead, they are removing themselves from the important role of championing ethical decisions and actions.

Ethics has to be personal, systemic and positive to drive an organization’s success. Detachment undoes all three important elements. 


Reader Opportunities:

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If you are in the Richmond, Virginia area, please join me for a Book Talk on April 7th at the Tuckahoe Library. This event is free and open to the public. See for details. I’m looking forward to sharing my story with readers of 7 Lenses and the Leading in Context Blog in this local author showcase!

ILAs Leadership Perspectives webinar Linda Fisher Thornton_Page_1

Also plan to join me for an International Leadership Association Leadership Perspectives Webinar: Seeing “Good Leadership” Through 7 Lenses of Ethical Responsibility, April 27th , 12-1 pm. Registration is open to everyone. There is a small fee for non ILA member registration.

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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!  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC


There Are No Quick Fixes For Ethics


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By Linda Fisher Thornton

I have been thinking about how lightly some leaders take the subject of ethics. Some ignore ethical issues altogether or think ethical issues are unimportant compared to concerns about profitability. It’s a risky choice to take ethics lightly. Why? Unlike heart or kidney transplants, there are no “ethics transplants” for people who have made bad ethical decisions.

We are responsible for our choices. If an ethics transplant did exist and we could easily start over, imagine how long the waiting list would be for that procedure! Since there is no quick fix for failed ethics, we need to protect our ethical reputations carefully, and choose to stay on an ethical path.

In our global society, where almost anything can be obtained for a price, you can’t buy ethics.

While people can recover somewhat from ethical failures, it takes them a long time to earn back people’s trust, if they ever do. In the meantime, they have to pay the price for failing to make ethical choices.

Our choices are very much ours to live with, good or bad, for the rest of our lives. 

The journey to an ethical life and ethical leadership is rewarding but it takes personal effort. Plato believed that we should make ethics more important than silver or gold. Silver and gold, after all, are commodities that can be bought, sold or traded at will. Ethics (on the other hand) requires personal effort and growth over time.

Ethics cannot be bought, sold, traded or transferred. It can only be learned, taught and encouraged. You can’t buy it. No one can give it to you, and you can’t replace yours when things go wrong. That makes ethics priceless.


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   Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™

©2015 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.



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:

 …Are we doing enough?





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 

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