What Does it Mean to “Do the Right Thing?”

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

The “Keep it Simple” approach is good for many situations, but keeping it simple will set you up for failure in ethics. Using an oversimplified approach to solving a complex ethical problem just means you leave out variables you should be considering.

5 Reasons a “Do the Right Thing” Message Isn’t Enough

  1. Nobody knows what it means
  2. Even though it is positive, it is too vague to direct good choices
  3. Everyone defines it differently, and acts on their definition
  4. Unless you painstakingly define what you mean by “do the right thing,” there is no common understanding of ethical expectations across the organization
  5. A vague definition can be used to justify unethical choices that “seem right” when you’re not using an ethical framework

“Do the Right Thing” is a wonderful starting point, but we need to define it in great detail. Otherwise, people will do whatever THEY think is the right thing, and that could pull your organization off course.

Ethical leaders don’t just ask people to “do the right thing.” They share examples of people who have done the right thing. They explain ethical performance standards that define “the right thing” and bring it to life in discussions about how to handle competing interests. This approach keeps everyone headed in the same positive direction.

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

Learn how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.  

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Prevention or Cure? Your Choice

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Senior leadership teams and boards have a choice. In their ethics strategies, they can focus on either prevention or cure.

The cure approach is reactive and messy. You do the bare minimum required by law, wait for something bad to happen, and scramble to do damage control. Then you build an ethical support system (perhaps at the insistence of a regulatory body) to prevent it from happening again.

The prevention approach is proactive and positive, and it helps prevent those messy problems. You build the ethical support system up front, while things are going well.

Taking the “cure” approach seems easier when everything is going well, but all it takes is one highly visible mistake to pull the organization down in every way (in the media, in the stock market, in the eyes of customers, employees and partners…).

Here’s the most interesting thing I’ve discovered – Both the prevention and cure approaches require building an infrastructure that supports ethics in the organization. In the cure approach you choose to do it in the public eye, possibly under court supervision, while bleeding profusely from taking a hit to your credibility. In the prevention approach, you choose to do it now to prevent bleeding profusely in the future. 

Why should we choose prevention? It’s positive. Leading with positive ethical values builds trust and brings out the best in people, which brings out the best in the organization, which leads to great results. The cure approach leads to negative front page headlines, a tarnished reputation and poor organizational results. 

Prevention or Cure? Your Choice.

Top 100 Leadership Blog

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

Learn how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.  

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

Ethical and Unethical Sales Leadership: What’s The Difference?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Unfriendly Sales Techniques 

Times are still tight for consumers and salespeople are concerned about their jobs. It seems that is more tempting now than it would be in a booming economy to use high-pressure tactics or other unfriendly approaches in order to get business.  And pushy, unfriendly sales techniques stand out even more in difficult economic times. Customers will go out of their way to avoid companies that use them.

Some unfriendly approaches that I have observed recently include:

  • More cold calls than usual
  • People ignoring “no soliciting” signs
  • People who won’t stop talking when you politely say that you’re not interested
  • People who continue to try to sell you additional services before taking the time to resolve a problem that you’ve called about

What’s the Difference Between Ethical and Unethical Selling?

See if you can relate to these descriptions of ethical and unethical selling, and take a moment to consider the important leadership questions that follow.

Unethical Selling

Selling my product (even if you don’t want it).

Ignoring the boundaries of privacy and space and being blind to our negative impact on the customer. 

Talking or pushing my way in. Lying or over promising and failing to deliver.

“You buy it and I make money. Since I was pushy, you don’t ever want to see me again.”

Ethical Selling

Meeting your need, if I can with my services.

Sharing information that is helpful to my customer. No strings.

Respecting boundaries and customer wishes.

Building trust. I meet my sales goal by how well I meet the needs of my customers.

“Since I was helpful, you are likely to buy more from me and refer friends.”

Which Kind of Selling Is My Team Using?

While pushy sales techniques may generate business in the short run, customers are quick to share negative experiences on social media and will caution their friends against dealing with people who try to “get the sale at all cost.” They realize that unethical sales people are trying to gain at the expense of their customers.

Ethical salespeople, on the other hand, focus on building trust over the long-term. They want to help their customers succeed and can see past “just the money” to provide a real service that makes people’s lives better. In taking the high road, they generate successful results for themselves, their customers and their organizations. Which sales approaches are your salespeople using?

Sales Leaders – Ask Yourselves These Important Questions:

1. Have I ever been aware of my staff using approaches that are unfriendly or dishonest, and not asked them to stop?

2. Have I set up a reward system that may lead sales people to use unethical approaches in order to get short-term rewards?

3. How can I be sure that my team understands that I want them to meet customer needs with our product instead of using unfriendly, high-pressure approaches?

4. How can I convey more clearly that being  respectful is part of the ethics of selling?

Top 100 Leadership Blog

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

Includes case examples and questions.

 

 

 

LeadinginContext.com   Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

 

What is Authentic Leadership?

How Do We Define Authenticity in Leadership?

Most people would agree that authentic leadership is a good thing. But what does it mean? What qualities do authentic leaders possess that set them apart from other leaders? Wikipedia provides many different interpretations of authenticity including this passage:

“Authenticity is something to be pursued as a goal intrinsic to “the good life.” And yet it is often described as an intrinsically difficult state to achieve, due in part to social pressures to live inauthentically, and in part due to a person’s own character. It is also described as a revelatory state, where one perceives oneself, other people, and sometimes even things, in a radically new way. Some writers argue that authenticity also requires self-knowledge, and that it alters a person’s relationships with other people. Authenticity also carries with it its own set of moral obligations.”                                                                                                                                                                 Wikipedia, Authenticity

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes authenticity as both personal and social: “The prevailing view seems to have been that, by turning inward and accessing the “true” self, one is simultaneously led towards a deeper engagement with the social world. This is why Taylor (1989: 419–455) describes the trajectory of the project of authenticity is ‘inward and upward’.”

What Are Its Inner and Outer Dimensions?

I believe that the following 14 personal, interpersonal and societal dimensions together form what we think of as authenticity. They involve overcoming the internal and external barriers to living an intentional, aware and ethical life. See if you agree.

Personal

Introspective

Self-Aware

Takes Responsibility

Has High Ethical Standards

Fully Present/Aware of Reality

Honest

Genuine

True to One’s Self

Aligned in Thought, Word and Deed (Has Integrity)

Committed to Growth and Learning

Interpersonal

Fully Respectful and Inclusive

Cares About Others

Service-Focused

Societal

Has An Identified Life Purpose or Calling

Reaches Individual Potential in Ways That Benefit Society

 

Growth Required

Discovering our authentic selves often involves venturing into areas where we are not a bit comfortable, but where we believe we can find meaning in our work and lives. As Herminia Ibarra wrote in her article Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership (HBR, January 2015) “The only way we grow as leaders is by stretching the limits of who we are—doing new things that make us uncomfortable but that teach us through direct experience who we want to become.”

 

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5 Elements of a (Proactive) Ethical Workplace

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Last week I wrote about how to prepare for leadership future by staying centered in ethical values. Grounding our work in values is critically important but it’s not enough. There’s much more to being ready for the future of leadership than just staying aligned with positive values. This week I’m sharing a graphic about 5 other variables that need to be in place to build a positive ethical culturethe proper time orientation, focus, response, level and complexity.

5 Elements of the Ethical Workplace REV

7LensesStanding

 

We believe that ethics, integrity and trust are critical to our success.

…But what are we doing to clarify them, to anchor our work to them, to teach our organizations how to apply them?

…Are we doing enough?

 Linda Fisher Thornton Named to Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior 2013

Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business For 2013 and 2014

7 Lenses™ Workshops Engage 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

“thought-provoking”       “fresh”         “powerful”        “relevant”

Ethics is not supposed to be boring. Bring it to life with a 7 Lenses™ Workshop or Webinar!

Scheduling Now for 2015:  Info@LeadinginContext.com

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics

2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
@leadingincontxt  @7Lenses  
 
© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

5 Reports Say Business Ethics is Improving

5 Reports

By Linda Fisher Thornton

What do Deloitte, Strategy & PwC, Dow Jones, The Ethics Resource Center and LRN have to say about trends in business ethics? Get ready for some good news:

“A new era of the responsible enterprise may be here to stay.”

Chris Park and Dinah A. Koehler, “The Responsible Enterprise: Where Citizenship and Commerce Meet’, Deloitte University Press

 

“CEOs are increasingly seeking ‘good growth’ aligned with business ethics and sustainability.”

Dennis Nally, The Trust Agenda, Strategy and Business,  PwC Strategy& Inc.

 

“NBES 2013 reveals substantial good news about the state of ethics in American workplaces.”  “The steady and sharp drop in misconduct since 2007 suggests that something both fundamental and good is taking place in the way Americans conduct themselves at work. “

Ethics Resource Center, 2013 National Business Ethics Survey

 

“Fewer companies report ever having lost business to unethical competitors.”

Dow Jones Anti-Corruption Survey Report Results 2014

 

“Many steps forward, just a few back, and still a long way to go.”

LRN, 2014 Ethics and Compliance Program Effectiveness Report

 

While these reports hold very encouraging news, we must remember where we are. While overall business ethics is improving, it is improving from a low starting point.  It will take more time and intentional effort to get to where we need to be. 

Some business leaders have realized that proactive ethics meets constituent expectations, delights employees and leads to better overall organizational performance. These proactive ethical leaders build a culture based on high standards and positive ethical values and enable their organizations to live up to those standards every day. This is the future of business. Are your leaders ready?

Got Ethics? Are You Positive?

10 Forces Fueling the Values-Based Leadership Movement

Developing the Ethical Leader of the Future

 

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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
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

Got Ethics? Are You Positive?

Got Ethics? Are You Positive?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Is your ethics training focused on positive values? In spite of all the bad news you’ve seen in the media about ethics, we don’t build ethical cultures by focusing on the negative. Let’s face it – thinking about fraud, embezzlement and conflict of interest won’t make us better leaders. But that’s what many of us are focusing on in our organizations.

The future of ethical leadership is intentional, proactive and positive. 

We need to stop focusing on NEGATIVE examples (what we don’t want) and start focusing on what ethical leadership looks like in action (what we do want). Ethical leadership at its best looks POSITIVE. That’s where we need to be focused in our conversations and our leader development.

Only by intentionally focusing on positive ethical values are we ethical leaders. 

Only by intentionally focusing on positive ethical values do we create ethical workplaces.

Operating in the realm of values means shaking off the temptation to become fixated only on laws and regulations. Laws and regulations are there to remind us of the minimum standards. We need to focus on the higher level values that should guide our work. Operating in the realm of values includes:

  • Having a positive vision of how values can transform our leadership and our organizations
  • Clearly understanding and communication the ethical behaviors we want people to use
  • Making day-to-day decisions based on positive ethical values

Being ready for the future of ethical leadership requires shaking off a compliance based mindset and operating in the realm of values. 

Have you “got ethics?” Is your ethics based on positive values?

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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
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

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