Ethical Leadership Thinking: When we Attack an Issue

Ethical Leadership Thinking: Attacking Issues

When dealing with a troublesome business problem, it’s easy to get carried away and begin to attack people instead of the problem. This wastes time, takes energy away from finding solutions and leaves people demoralized.

Let’s look at the important differences between attacking people and attacking issues:

When we Attack a Person our Language is Less Respectful and Our Thinking is Narrowing

When we attack people, our thinking narrows and our approach is not usually responsible. Our words may not be carefully chosen and we may speak in anger.

  • We use raised voices and disrespectful language
  • We accuse and blame, which leads away from solutions
  • We have no tolerance for other perspectives

When we Attack an Issue, We are More Respectful and Our Thinking is Broadening

When we attack issues, we use a much more respectful approach with others. We focus on getting a more complete perspective, and seek to understand the issue more clearly.

  • We are seeking information
  • We are seeking understanding
  • Other perspectives help us understand the issue
  • We are more respectful

Examining Our Thinking and Our Leadership 

If you think that as a leader you would never attack a person, ask yourself this question:

Have I ever made remarks (even if they are made privately or intended to be a joke) about a political party, person, organization, entity, club, or any other group of persons that sounded disrespectful to anyone else? How did it make them feel? Did they let me know?

When we attack a person or group, we erode trust, even if the person we are attacking is not there. If we will attack someone who is not present it raises the concern that we may berate others when they are not there to defend their reputations.

Attacking Issues or Attacking People?

  • Which problem-solving approach do you think is more ethical?
  • Which approach are you modeling and rewarding in your leadership?
  • Which approach do other leaders in your organization use?

 

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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 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
  About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2010 Leading in Context LLC 

Five Unintended Consequences of Linear Problem-Solving

 

 Systems Are Not Linear

When solving complex business problems, it helps to remember that systems (including organizations) are not linear. Thinking of them as linear leads to easier one-dimensional decisions but ignores these things that we know about systems:

  • systems are dynamic
  • systems are adaptive
  • systems have complex contexts (they connect with many other systems)

Unintended Consequences of Linear Problem-Solving

Making decisions using linear thinking (which does not reflect how organizations work) is harmful to leaders, organizations, constituents and societies for many different reasons. Here are five:

  1. Seeing the problem as linear ignores interrelationships and limits the solutions to simple ones that may later be found to cause harm to the system(s).
  2. Seeing the problem as linear leads to picking a position on the resulting “line” and defending it against other ideas, which are then perceived as “wrong.”
  3. “Collaboration” is seen as a weakened position rather than a strength or opportunity, since it requires embracing a different point on the line (the point where we perceive that the other person or organization stands).
  4. The linear mindset does not reflect how organizations are structured (they are systems made up of subsystems), so solutions generated using linear thinking are generated “out of context” and are not likely to be successful.  This means that more problems are generated by each solution.
  5. Using a linear mindset keeps us blind to the changes going on in the organizational systems that we are leading, and therefore unable to adapt quickly as things change.  When we think our scope of influence is the point on the line where we stand, we think we are current when we are still standing.

Interesting Articles on the Subject

“The Problem(s) With Linear Thinking” by Eric Brown

Ellen Macarthur Foundation “Good Rather Than Less Bad: The Circular Approach”

PermacultureandSanity.com “Linear versus cyclical”

 

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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 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
  About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2010 Leading in Context LLC 

 

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