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


Do Good Things Come to Those Who Wait?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I don’t particularly like the quote “Good things come to those who wait.” This quote, attributed to British author Violet Fane (Mary M. Singleton) in 1892, may be true but it leaves out important parts of the story. Good things may come to those who wait, but only after certain important conditions have been met:

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait (If They Also….)

  1. Work hard
  2. Use what they are learning to help others
  3. Keep working hard
  4. Improve but still keep learning
  5. Keep using what they learn in service to others
  6. Don’t give up, even when progress is slow and success is uncertain
  7. ….and so on (perpetually repeating numbers 1-6 above)

Doing these things keeps people in a service mindset, making it easier to wait for good things to happen. And, of course, while they are working diligently, they are not just waiting. Without the rest of the context, the quote seems to imply that just “waiting” is enough. 

What are your thoughts about the context of this quote? What other well-known quotes might be missing an important part of the story?

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Ethical Leaders See Their Choices Through All 7 Lenses

Includes case examples and questions.

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2017 Leading in Context LLC




5 Insights Into Leadership Development Future (Part 4)


By Linda Fisher Thornton

This post is Part 4 in the series “5 Insights Into Leadership Development Future.” 

The previous posts in the series in case you missed them:

Part 1 on Global Trends

Part 2 on Wholeness 

Part 3 on Growth and Human Development

In Part 4, we take a look at positive ethical values and the search for meaning.

Leaders need to help diverse groups of meaning-seekers thrive.

One way they do that is by leading with positive values. 

The best leaders are modeling leadership that is infused with ethical values like care, respect, sustainability and community service. They demonstrate that they understand the role that values play in good leadership.

Ethical values will increasingly be considered an important element of what it means to lead. 

“Recommendations for future research to promote the development and measurement of leaders who have morality, ethics, and authenticity as foundational behaviors to their leadership.”

Mary Kay Copeland, THE EMERGING SIGNIFICANCE OF VALUES BASED LEADERSHIP: A LITERATURE REVIEW, International Journal of Leadership Studies, Vol. 8 Iss. 2, 2014 

The best leaders are clear about their own values, they model the values of the organization, they follow laws, regulations and policies and they reach higher than laws to lead with positive ethical values. They do it because it’s the right thing to do, and they find that it also benefits them and their businesses in powerful ways.

Ethical values inspire meaning-seekers who want to do more than “just show up.” 

Learning to lead with positive ethical values meets a number of human and organizational needs (that go way beyond compliance with laws and regulations). 

  • People can do their best work in a positive, supportive environment where leaders strive for excellence, innovation and ethical leadership
  • Positive ethical values help leaders find their way through the maze, handling complex issues that are naturally part of the leadership role
  • Making decisions using ethical values helps leaders handle complexity without falling into ethical problems
  • Leading with positive ethical values fulfills a powerful human need for meaning and difference making

What can happen when leaders work to create meaningful work spaces where people can thrive? They are likely to find meaning themselves by helping others grow.

5 Actions to Take Now

What actions can we take now?

  1. Teach positive ethical values and make them an integral part of all leadership learning experiences in every setting. Make sure leaders know how powerfully those values attract meaning-seeking employees. 
  2. Drive your message home by hiring, promoting and rewarding leaders who treat everyone with respect and lead with positive ethical values.
  3. Make it clear that in good leadership, ethical values are more important than monetary gain or personal power.
  4. Provide a safe space to discuss how to apply ethical values in your organization, and explore how ethical values help people find meaning in their work.
  5. Help leaders learn how to think through ethical challenges using positive values (it takes practice).

More to Come: Stay tuned for #5 in the series!

Top 100 Leadership Blog


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

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