Ethical Leadership: The “On Switch” For Adaptability

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The post “Leader Competence: Will It Be A Multiplier or Divider?generated some great discussion on social media. Here’s a quote from the post:

“Leader competence is either going to be a multiplier or a divider. When you have it, you multiply performance and trust, with exponential results. Without it, you divide your possible results by the incompetence factor.”

After reading the post, one reader requested that I write more on the topic. This week I’m digging deeper into the multiplying and dividing effects of leader (in)competence, looking at how a leader’s ethical competence impacts trust, people, bottom line results and organizational adaptability:

Impact on Trust

Competent ethical leaders intentionally build trust.

Incompetent leaders damage trust (and they may or may not be aware of it/and they may or may not care).

Impact on Bottom Line Results

Competent ethical leaders set the stage for people to do great work and then get out of their way. They support and enable great performance. This releases powerful pent-up energy within the organization that improves employee satisfaction, retention and productivity and fuels positive bottom line results.

Incompetent leaders can confuse, misdirect, distract and un-empower people, and the resulting loss of productivity reduces bottom line results. How? It increases turnover and reduces employee satisfaction and productivity, which erodes customer service quality and customer retention (and so on).

Impact on People

Competent ethical leaders know that their success depends on enabling the success of others. It is at its core about service and support and not prestige or privilege.

Incompetent leaders may mistakenly believe that leadership is all about them, and people don’t usually trust an incompetent leader enough to tell them that THEY are the problem. Employees may have to risk their wrath to get work done the right way when a leader is determined to use old thinking, old behavior and old leadership approaches that don’t work in a global society.

Incompetent leaders divide people by not communicating clear standards, giving all the good projects to “favorites,” or playing games with people to try to maintain the fragile illusion that they are “in charge.” Ethically competent leaders know that any illusion that they are “in charge” is not only false, it is a “brand-killer,” a “trust killer” and a “results killer.”

Impact on Adaptability

Adaptability is the key to an organization’s survival, and in the midst of accelerated global change and uncertainty, it provides a critical competitive advantage. Leaders who make it a priority to stay competent see the need to help others stay competent, and that helps everyone respond to change quickly.

Incompetent leaders don’t stay current, and since they don’t stay current, they probably don’t realize (or don’t care) that others in their organizations need to stay current. They do things that competent ethical leaders  know are counterproductive and harmful. The lack of leader awareness and failure to stay current creates a DRAG on the group and the organization that can make adaptability next to impossible.

The Equation

Ethical leadership competence is an adaptability enabler, people uniter and results multiplier. Ethical leadership incompetence is an adaptability reducer, a people divider and a results diminisher. 

Adaptability is a key challenge for leaders and organizations, and ethical leadership is a critical tool for “switching it on.”

The Adaptability Paradox

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Ethical Leaders See Their Choices 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

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

 

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

 
 

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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