Top 10 Posts 2016: Leading in Context Blog

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Of the 52 posts published on the Leading in Context Blog in 2016, these 10 were the most popular. See if you notice a theme that connects these topics that readers accessed most frequently:

10 Ways the Leadership Relationship is Changing (Part 1)

Great Leaders are Other-Focused

The Future of Learning Isn’t About “Knowing”

15 Quotes for Leadership Insight

Leaders, Don’t You Care? (9 Red Flags That Tell Employees You Don’t)

5 Insights Into the Future of Leadership Development Part 1

Every Leader is a Work in Progress (Yes, Even You)

What Does “Good Leadership” Mean?

What Does it Mean to “Be a Leader?”

Ethical Failures: What Causes Them?

If I had to pick a theme for these posts that were most popular in 2016, it would be “Understanding Leader Roles, Responsibilities and Relationships.” Which 2016 post was your favorite? If you have ethical leadership topics you want to learn more about in 2017, comment here, or tweet your idea to @leadingincontxt!

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Prepare For Ethical Leadership Future – Learn To See Through All 7 Lenses

Includes case examples and questions.

Click the book cover for a preview.

 

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2017 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

20 Quotes To Inspire Leaders in the New Year (Part 2)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Are your leaders prepared for the year ahead? Each day will bring new challenges. To succeed within ethical boundaries, they’ll need a clear picture of “good leadership.”

This series includes 20 quotes (linked to posts with leadership guidance) to inspire you and help you improve your leader development. Part 1 included the first 10. Here are 10 more:

Demonstrating care is one of the hallmark requirements of good leadership. 

We are learning our way forward in developing leaders for the workplace of the future while they are learning their way forward through complexity, economic challenges and catastrophic change.

Leaders are the key to values alignment – they model and reinforce values and hold people accountable for following them. 

The triple bottom line, a great improvement over “win at all cost,” is only the beginning. The future of work will require much more.

Leaders are culture caretakers. To fulfill that role successfully, they need to know what a positive ethical culture looks like.

Hands-off leadership can be as bad as micromanagement in terms of its ultimate impact on organizational ethics.

Understanding what causes ethical failures can help us build a more robust infrastructure for preventing them.

We must grow into our ethical leadership competence… intentionally…over time. 

Trust transforms.

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.

As we approach 2017, be sure your leadership team is ready for what’s ahead. Use these links to consider how to improve leadership development in your organization. Make sure each leader is clear about what “good leadership” looks like in action. 

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.

Click the book cover for a preview.

 

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2017 Leading in Context LLC

20 Quotes To Inspire Leaders in the New Year (Part 1)

Leaders-influence-others (1)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

In the New Year, we will deal with leadership challenges we cannot predict now. To be ready, we need to set our leadership and learning on the path to success.

This series includes 20 quotes (linked to posts with leadership guidance) that will help you leverage your leadership planning. Here are the first 10:

Since our world and work are changing at the speed of complexity, every leader will always be a “work in progress.”

The changing leadership relationship requires us to put ego aside and work for the good of those we lead and serve.

Leaders are developers, team builders, imaginers, culture caretakers, roadblock removers and inspirers. Their success depends on the success of others. 

Leaders influence others, first by who they are and then by what they do.

Taking responsibility at the highest levels (even when it’s difficult) separates “good leaders” from the rest. 

Good leaders know that the road to profit leads through good work, good leadership and good ethics. 

When the leader improves, everybody can do more.

Real respect is not selective. It’s not selfish.

There is a vast difference between a leader who KNOWS and a leader who GROWS.

Leading with positive values inspires meaning-seekers who want to do more than just “show up.”

Is your organization crystal clear about what good leadership requires? Are you helping leaders get there? Use these articles as the basis for conversations that will clear things up going in to the New Year.

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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.

Click the book cover for a preview.

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do You Recognize a Trustworthy Leader?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

I’m hearing people talking about trustworthy leadership everywhere I go. We all crave it. We seek it out because trustworthy leadership allows us to be at our best so that we can make a meaningful contribution.

To recognize a trustworthy leader, look for all of these tell-tale signs:

  • Values Centered – character, integrity and moral awareness are top priorities
  • Full Congruence – behaves the same way in every context, and shows congruence between thoughts, words and deeds
  • Genuinely Cares – treats people well – everybody, not just the inner circle
  • Shows Respect  – demonstrates respect for people and differences
  • Other Focused – realizes that leadership is about bringing out the best in others – and it shows in every interaction and conversation

The best leaders strive to live out all five of these characteristics every day. They center themselves in positive ethical values like respect, care and trustworthiness. 

What should you do if you can’t find a trustworthy leader? Keep looking. They’re out there.

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

 

 

Leaders Are Culture Caretakers: 10 Actions For Success

 

leaders-are-culture-1

By Linda Fisher Thornton

There are many ways to understand culture, and some of the definitions are very complicated. My favorite way to think about culture is as an infrastructure or scaffolding that supports the behaviors we want. Culture drives what people do, and is the setting and framework for great work.

What leads to strong ethical cultures? Here are 10 critically important actions every leader should take:

  1. Keep Ethics Alive and Relevant
  2. Build an Engaging, High Trust Culture
  3. Establish Positive Conditions for Success
  4. Learn Ethical Thinking
  5. Develop Ethical Leadership Competence 
  6. Demonstrate Organizational Integrity
  7. Manage Ethics as a Performance System
  8. Have Meaningful Conversations About Staying Ethical
  9. Tend the Culture Carefully to Prevent Gaps
  10. Weed Out Negative Interpersonal Behaviors

Leaders are culture caretakers. To fulfill that role successfully, they need to know what a positive ethical culture looks like. Start the conversation today. 

Top 100 Leadership Blog

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future. 

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

 

What Does it Mean to Win?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

What it means to “win” in business has changed. Driving this change is a greater awareness of the impact we have on each other:

  • A better understanding of our global connectedness
  • An awareness that laws aren’t ideal ethical standards, just punishment thresholds
  • A greater focus on human rights and dignity and human well-being
  • Increased attention on the well-being of communities

The message used to be “WIN at all cost” to achieve strong financial performance. Then we began to consider what happened to  other people when we “won at all cost” and “Win-Win” became the mantra. As we gradually became aware of our many stakeholders, “Win-Win-Win” looked better – paying attention to the triple bottom line, our impact on Profits, People and the Planet. 

When we consider our interdependence and the leadership context, the way we think about a “win” changes. 

Driving this change is also a greater awareness of the global context:

  • Our constituents are global, and our impact is global
  • We are part of a connected, global economy
  • We are experiencing dwindling natural spaces and increasing demand for natural resources
  • Global citizenship is a growing issue as we deal with border management and complex social issues
  • Leadership and ethical duties are inseparable if we are going to create a positive environment, locally and globally

The triple bottom line, a great improvement over “win at all cost,” is only the beginning. The future of work will require much more. Taking extended stakeholders and the broad responsibilities of corporate social responsibility into account, we are ultimately looking for a 7 Way Win. To learn more, see The Triple Bottom Line is Just the Beginning and 7 Definitions of “Good” (Why We Disagree About Ethics).

Top 100 Leadership Blog

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future. 

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

 

 

 

Is Our Ethics Who We Are Or What We Do?

 

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This week’s question is about what defines our ethics – “Is our ethics based on who we are or what we do?” Some people would argue that we have a persona, a manner, that is either ethical or not. Others would say that it is our decisions and actions that define how ethical we are, and therefore our ethicality changes from moment to moment.

Instead of trying to decide which perspective is right, we would be well advised to take our lead from Aristotle. He conveyed in his famous quote “we are what we repeatedly do” that our ethical persona and actions cannot be separated. 

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

 

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? – Part 3

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The first post in this series addressed ACCOUNTABILITY. The second asked you to evaluate your IMPACT. These four ways to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good) focus on MANAGING THE SYSTEM.

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)?

Manage the System

  1. COMMUNICATE OPENLY ABOUT ETHICAL ISSUES: Are ethical expectations clear and widely communicated? Does widely communicated include open conversations about grey areas? If not, start those conversations, framing them as important ways to change the ethics quo and improve the organization. 
  2. BRING ETHICS TO LIFE: Does ethics have a life beyond procedures and the shelf full of ethics manuals? Are the materials readable and relatable so that people can succeed in applying them? Are they current? Are they followed? If not, find ways to bring ethics to life so that people know it’s “the way we do things” and not “that binder on the second shelf.”
  3. REWARD ETHICAL CHOICES: Is ethical behavior rewarded just as much as financial profitability (in promotions, awards and public recognition)? If not, the message of your ethics system is “we are ethical unless it interferes with making money.” Get it straight by making ethics at least as important as (or more important than) profits.
  4. INTEGRATE ETHICS INTO EVERYTHING: Is ethics an integrated part of all training and performance management instead of being “separate?” If ethics training is separate that may give the impression that ethics can be separated from good performance and good leadership. If performance is rewarded based on results and not ethics, you’ll get results without ethics. Make sure that ethics is a thread woven through every learning experience for every audience and through the fabric of your culture. 

We may think that things are going well when there are no major problems, but that’s a “false reading” for ethics. Without prevention and taking the steps recommended in this series, we will be “putting out fires” and cleaning up damage to our organization’s reputation. Don’t wait for that to happen. This week, work on these important ways to MANAGE THE SYSTEM.

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

What Is Organizational Integrity?

20140527_134250

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Individual integrity is the full alignment in what a person thinks, says and does. Taking that concept to another level, this post will explore the question “what is organizational integrity?”

Clearly, organizational integrity is broader than individual integrity, but what does it include? It seems to me that taking the concept of individual integrity to the organizational level, organizational integrity would mean full alignment in what an organization thinks, says and does.

When an organization demonstrates full alignment, all company messages, actions, decisions, leadership and rewards align. It’s not enough to just ensure alignment, though, because alignment without values can lead an organization away from ethical decisions and actions.

Messages, actions, decisions, leadership and rewards  must be aligned around positive ethical values that the entire organization supports.

This positive values-based alignment in what an organization values, says and does creates the scaffolding for an ethical culture. What does your organization say it values? How consistently does it live out those values in daily practice?

If your leaders are all perfectly clear about which high level ethical values to uphold and how to demonstrate them, you are probably incorporating complexity into your leadership development. You are also probably providing leaders with the level of detail about ethical values that they need to navigate through information overload, constant change and demands from multiple stakeholders. If not, you may be rolling the dice by taking an “I’ll know it when I see it” approach to ethics.

Linda Fisher Thornton, “What Is Integrity?: Beyond I’ll Know it When I See It”, Leading in Context Blog

Leaders are the key to values alignment – they model and reinforce values and hold people accountable for following them. Organizational integrity (at its most effective) is what happens when leaders consistently immerse an organization in positive ethical values and align all leadership, actions, decisions, messages, and reward systems accordingly.

 

 

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.

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

Leaders, Don’t You Care? (9 Red Flags That Tell Employees You Don’t)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Demonstrating care is one of the hallmark requirements of good leadership. In addition to caring about what happens in our own careers, we must CARE about people, about their success, and about creating a positive work environment. If leaders don’t seem to care, that harms the organization’s culture.

The 9 behaviors below are red flags for employees – pointing out that a leader doesn’t care.

9 Red Flags That Tell Employees You Don’t Care

  1. Being too busy to meet with people
  2. Not showing interest in people or their success
  3. Asking about how someone is doing, then losing interest or becoming distracted when they answer
  4. Breaking promises, not acting on commitments
  5. Telling people you’re sure they’ll figure it out on their own when they come to you for help
  6. Failing to recognize accomplishments and milestones
  7. Asking people to do some of your work, then taking credit for it
  8. Withdrawing during times of change when support is most needed
  9. Making YOUR OWN success more important than THEIRS (missing the point that as a leader, their success is the measure of your own)

All 9 of these choices hurt employees who want to do their best and who want a manager who believes in them. They are behaviors that damage trust, reduce engagement and limit productivity. 

The bottom line? Acting like you don’t care might work if you’re leading a team of robots – but people expect more.

Top 100 Leadership Blog

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

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

What Does it Mean to “Be a Leader?”

What-Does-it-Mean-to-Be

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leadership is not about being “in charge” or standing “at the front of the room” or “exercising personal power.” Authentic ethical leadership flips that paradigm. 

The authentic ethical leader is:

  • Standing beside, encouraging, supporting, guiding
  • Standing in the back offering encouragement
  • Stepping aside when people are capable of doing the work without support
  • Stepping forward to remove obstacles and clear the path for success
  • Taking responsibility and sharing credit
  • Being available and ready to help

This is the work of leadership.

Do not be fooled by someone trying to use power for personal gain. Bottom line — If it’s loud, self-serving and egotistical, it’s not leadership. 

 

Top 100 Leadership Blog

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

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

What’s Does Genuine Respect Look Like?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

We can disagree calmly in ways that help us solve problems together, or we can show our stripes by using aggressive behavior under the banner of “with all due respect.” Whichever approach we use, how we interpret respect impacts the people around us. 

There is no place for disrespectful behavior in a “good” society. Even if we agree on that point, respect can be understood from a variety of angles. You may already be thinking of a leader who operated in the red zone (in the graphic above), creating a toxic environment that caused emotional harm.

Real respect is not one dimensional.  

You may have also encountered people operating in the yellow zone who were carefully polite but did not go out of their way to help others or demonstrate care.  

Real respect is not selective. It’s not selfish.

How we choose to offer respect to others is an ethical issue. A narrow view – for example, “I will respect whoever I choose to respect and no one else” can lead to negative interpersonal behavior, which increases tension, conflict and stress. 

Leaders with a SELFish understanding of respect may look for opportunities to BENEFIT THEMSELVES by using respect selectively. 

Leaders with an OTHERish understanding of respect might look for opportunities to BE FAIR AND EQUAL in respecting others, not showing favoritism to certain groups, but showing respect for all. 

Respect at the highest level incorporates positive intent and impact. 

Leaders with a high level OTHERish understanding of respect (that incorporates care for others) will go beyond using polite behavior to look for opportunities to help and be in service to others. They will tend to stay in the green zone, where they don’t just “not offend people,” they have an intentional positive impact on others.

I think of the “respect” in the yellow zone as only the minimum standard for interpersonal behavior. Don’t great leaders give so much more?

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.

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

Every Leader is a “Work in Progress” (Yes, Even You)

Every-leader-is-a-work

By Linda Fisher Thornton

When we reach a certain level of accomplishment as leaders, it is easy to think we can slide into neutral. Here are 14 compelling reasons why we can never afford to cut back on investing in our own leadership development and competence:

atching trends that impact our work and the success of those we lead

pening up to new feedback from followers and colleagues (and doing something about it!)

esponding to requests for new services, processes and communication channels

eeping up with changing times and technologies

 

nforming others of key information and engaging our networks in conversations about it

ever thinking we have “arrived” (leadership is a relational journey and the world is changing fast)

 

reparing for future challenges that we have identified through trend scanning

especting all other people including people who are not like us (it’s a constant learning experience)

ffering to take on new assignments and responsibilities

rowing into our new roles and responsibilities (whether we volunteered for them or not)

eaching for new skills and abilities to become the best leader we can be

ntertaining new ideas and perspectives on important issues (that don’t match our current beliefs)

implifying work and how we use our time to be able to keep up with increasing work complexity

tudying and responding to changing ethical expectations

Since our world and work are changing at the speed of complexity, every leader will always be a “work in progress.”

Top 100 Leadership Blog

axiombronze

 

 

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!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

What is “Harm?” (It Depends On Your Perspective)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Leaders interpret “harm” according to the perspective on ethical leadership they are using to make decisions. They may consider harm narrowly (only what would harm them) or broadly (what would harm others and society). 

At its most narrow, harm could be interpreted as harming me or my company’s profitability.

Broadening our view, harm may be interpreted as anything that harms our constituents.

Broadening our view even more, we may see harm as anything that harms anyone.

Here are some examples of how leaders may interpret “harm”:                                                 

What is Harm?

Harm in Profit-Based Ethics =   Anything that harms profits

Harm in People-Based Ethics = Anything that harms people

Harm in Planet-Based Ethics = Anything that harms the planet and nature

Harm in Greater Good-Based Ethics = Anything that harms people, or planet and nature, for current members of society and future generations.

Which definition of harm is “right?” At the highest levels of ethical leadership, we care about all of our constituents and consider harm in all of its dimensions, balancing concerns about profit with concern for others and society.

Leadership Questions To Ponder:

  1. How narrowly or broadly are we interpreting “harm”?
  2. What constituents should we protect that are not currently in our definition?
  3. What changes can we make now to begin to consider our impact on those constituents?

Top 100 Leadership Blog

axiombronze

 

 

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!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 
 

15 Quotes For Leadership Insight

We-should-never-settle (1)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

About once a year I like to gather up important quotes from the Leading in Context Blog and compile them into a post for readers who like quotes! See if you can find inspiration in these quotes about authentic ethical leadership – what it is, how to think about it, and how to do it. 

Each quote includes a link that takes you to the post that featured it. 

“Ethical leadership is much closer to home than we may readily admit. It isn’t somewhere ‘out there’ at all – it is us, right here and right now.  It is in our deeply-held values. It is in our day-to-day choices.  It is in our quest for good.”

“Growth may be difficult, but there isn’t any other way to fully embrace ethics. We must grow into our ethical competence…intentionally…over time. When we are tempted to take a shortcut and think about ethics as a class or a theory, we should remember this: The “body of knowledge” isn’t going to need to make tough ethical choices. We are.”

“When we are not open to learning, we can easily misinterpret another perspective that does not match our own as a threat.”

What is the most positive reason of all to care about creating an ethical culture? We get to help people learn to make positive choices based on ethical values before they have problems (instead of just cleaning up ethical messes when it’s too late).

“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.”

“I believe that we gain an understanding of the whole picture by taking in a broad array of information in the course of our lives. Without that kind of awareness, we are destined to understand the small pieces but miss the connections and the greater meaning.”

“Failing to prepare leaders for what they’ll face is not just potentially bad for their success, it’s also an ethical problem for their employees and for the organization. Without tools for handling complex challenges, people may make more mistakes than they need to. Some of those mistakes can be costly to the leader’s future and the organization’s reputation.”

“Trust is a hot topic and a valuable business enabler. The organizations that will adapt and succeed in the future make it a business priority.”

“The question about profit’s place in ethical leadership is a good one. At its best, ethics requires setting aside concerns about money and personal gain and doing what is best for others. But business leaders also have to keep their organizations afloat, and that requires thinking about money.”

“To make the boundaries of ethics clear, we need to explore the borders and grey areas. Trying to make things CLEAR and keeping them SIMPLE are not at all the same.”

“Competence is a critical part of responsible leadership. We may miss some steps along the way and make mistakes as we learn, but we should always make it a priority to stay competent.”

“Ethical values by definition are positive and they often require that we stretch outside of our own interests to respect, protect, serve and help others.”

“Ethical thinking means we never lose sight of our positive purpose. We choose to be the sum of our values, not our challenges.”

We are all Padawan learners on the ethical journey. We are subject to making mistakes, and we must continually learn to stay ahead of our ethical challenges.

27881-068-Edit-003My mission is to Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®. Each of these posts was written to help you bring out the best in your leaders and your organizations. Which one of these 15 insights do you find the most inspirational?

Top 100 Leadership Blog

axiombronze

 

 

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.

 

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

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