Use It Or Lose It

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I recently started studying the German language again, relearning it a little bit every day. I studied it for years as a teen, and lived in Austria for a summer as a young adult. Once fluent, I haven’t practiced the language regularly and have become rusty over the years. 

It doesn’t take long to begin to lose vocabulary, grammar and confidence if we’re not using a language regularly. 

Losing fluency gradually over time brings to mind what happens to our leadership if we’re not learning new things every day. It’s sometimes a slow erosion of capacity, like losing a handful of grains of sand from a beach each day. We may not notice it’s happening until we find ourselves underwater. 

How can you move your competence as a leader into your daily priorities

What areas of your leadership are slowly going underwater due to a lack of attention and practice? What will you do today to stop the erosion? 

 

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What Does It Mean To “Do The Right Thing?”

Seen Through 7 Lenses of Ethical Responsibility

 

 

Click the cover to read a free preview!

LeadinginContext.com  

©2017 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

Building Trust: Paradoxical Qualities to Cultivate

 

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

As we progress on the learning journey toward positive leadership, some of the qualities we seek seem to be paradoxical. For example, as leaders we need to be CRYSTAL CLEAR in outwardly communicating what we expect and also OPEN to hearing input from others that might change our plans. We need to be FULLY PRESENT in this moment, and still able to THINK AHEAD to prepare for the future.

The secret that great leaders know is that these qualities (which may seem like polar extremes) are each effective at different levels, in different contexts and at different times. 

Cultivating these qualities in ourselves and our organizations helps us build a high trust workplace where people can do their best work:

Be Dependable and Open to Change

Be Fully Present Right Now and Think Ahead

Be Crystal Clear About What’s Expected and Open to Hearing Input From Others

Be Confident and Humble

Be Decisive and Flexible

Great leaders possess seemingly paradoxical qualities. They know when to use each end of the spectrum, depending on what is most needed to move individuals and groups forward. 

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, describes Level 5 Leaders (the highest level in his model) as having the paradoxical qualities of personal humility and professional will. This means that they are strong and confident, but choose to use their leadership in a “service-orientated” way that benefits others. They don’t save the power or attention for themselves.

Great leaders learn to identify when a group needs clarification, and when people want to be heard. They respond with just what people need at that moment. That careful dance builds trust.

We can be decisive when we need to be, but also keep our teams involved in deciding our future path.

We can be confident in our leadership and also humble enough to step aside to let others take the lead so they can grow.

Cultivating these paradoxical qualities (and learning when to apply them for the most positive impact) takes our leadership to a higher level. 

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

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LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

What is Positive Leadership?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Positive leadership is a new term that is popping up regularly in articles. What does it mean? What kind of leadership do we describe as positive?

What is Positive Leadership?

Positive leaders stay grounded in ethical values and use a human growth mindset. They are fixed and flexible at the same time, never straying from ethics but always willing to change with the times. 

The Basis?    Positive Ethical Values

The Assumption?    People Will Do Amazing Things if We Intentionally Bring Out Their Best

The Goal?  Lead in Ways That Bring Out People’s Best Capabilities

The Culture?   Respectful, Transparent and Supportive

The Leadership?   Encouraging, Available, Contributing to People’s Success and Well-Being, Helping People Be Co-Owners of the Organization’s Success, Helping Them Learn and Grow, Helping Them Reach Their Potential.

The Interactions?   Net Positive (Many more positive than negative interactions)

Positive leaders extend a welcome to all stakeholders and help them discover their possibilities, capabilities and contributions.

What is the essence of being a positive leader? Focusing on the best in others while working on becoming the best of ourselves. 

Learn More: 

The Impact of Positive Leadership, Gallup Business Journal

Positive Organizational Behavior in the Workplace: The Impact of Hope, Optimism and Resilience, Carolyn M. Youssef, Fred Luthans, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, unl.edu

The Power of Positive Communication, The University of Arizona

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

 

A Learning Journey That Brings Out Our Best

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The Manifesto

How is ethical leadership a learning journey?

“Ethical leadership transforms profits, people, the planet, communities and the world. Ethical leadership is not something on our to do list that we can check off as completed. It is an ongoing individual and organizational journey. This learning journey will bring out the best in all of us.”

The Leading in Context® Manifesto

Learning Journey

The Ethical Leadership Learning Journey

We live in a changing world. To keep up with those changes as leaders requires a commitment to learning. And in ethical leadership, the stakes are high. We need to honor human rights, ensure product safety, and serve our customers in ways that add value without harm. It’s a lot to do.

Once we decide to learn to lead ethically, though, it is a very different challenge. It stops being something to deal with “out there,” and it starts being about us. And that’s where ethical leadership really lives. It is in the small things we do every day just as much as it is in our major decisions. Once we realize that we never “arrive” as ethical leaders, we begin the journey.

 

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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

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

Is Needing to Be “Right” Unethical?

by Linda Fisher Thornton

Abandoning Civility to Prove We’re “Right”

Why do people sometimes abandon civility at work?

One reason is that when the discussion gets heated, sometimes we just like to be “right.”  And we may abandon civility to try to prove that we are right.

We may not always be able to resist the temptation to argue that our perspective is better, more accurate, more current or more relevant than someone else’s. While there may be a sense of satisfaction (short term) that comes from loudly proving that we are “right” and they are wrong, verbally attacking someone else for what they believe is not an ethical approach.

Why is Attacking Others Unethical?

When we don’t agree with someone, attacking them and trying to discredit them is an attempt to reaffirm the status quo as we see it – to prove that things are exactly the way we understand them and that we don’t need to change our thinking. 

But attacking others with different views is not a responsible or respectful behavior. So regardless of how intelligent we think our view is, our attacking behavior will not be “right” from an ethical standpoint.

There is a danger we face when we make our point too strongly. A powerful desire to be “right” can completely blind us to how we are treating others. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “There can be no high civility without a deep morality.”

“Passively, tolerance and respect simply mean accepting that a person with different beliefs and perspectives has a right to exist and doesn’t deserve to be attacked merely because of those differences – no matter how great they are.”

August Cline, Why Be Civil? (The Ethics and Moral Obligations of Civility), About.com

Being Careful About Our Behavior

Joshua Lederberg said that “A lack of civility is sometimes attributed to unchecked anger.” We do have to work to contain our anger and to be careful about our behavior when we don’t agree.

Michael Brannigan explains that civility “requires us to discipline our impulses” and “free ourselves from self-absorption:”

“Civility cultivates a civic code of decency. It requires us to discipline our impulses for the sake of others. It demands we free ourselves from self-absorption. By putting ethics into practice in our day-to-day encounters, civility is that moral glue without which our society would come apart.”

Michael Brannigan, The Pfaff Endowed Chair in Ethics and Moral Values at the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY [This quote is from his column in the Sunday Times Union in Albany]

Listen to Learn

When we disagree, it is responsible to listen to the other person, and to see what we can learn from their perspective. When we attack first, before listening in order to understand another view, we ignore this very important aspect of our responsibility as leaders – being open to learning. 

Responsible leadership requires that we be open-minded and civil. Fiercely defending our viewpoint as “right” without being open to learning from others does not qualify as open-minded, and demonstrates a lack of civility.

Ethical Leaders Disagree Respectfully

Ethical leaders know that respectful behavior is part of our responsibility as citizens of a global society.  Withholding respect when we disagree signals a departure from civility, but it also represents something more harmful:

The immorality of incivility goes deeper than that, however. When we withhold tolerance and respect from a person, we stop treating them as a fellow human being.

August Cline, Why Be Civil? (The Ethics and Moral Obligations of Civility), About.com

More Leading in Context® Posts About Civility and Ethical Behavior

Civility is an Ethical Issue

Ethical Interpersonal Behavior Graphic: Red, Green and Yellow Zones

Why We Need a Strong Moral Center

Civility and Openness to Learning

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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 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @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.
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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)
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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 http://www.valuesbasedleadershipjournal.com

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?

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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

© 2012 Leading in Context LLC 

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