29 Flawed Assumptions About Leadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I was pruning shrubs this week and it occurred to me that we have many mistaken assumptions about leadership that can lead us to make bad choices. Those flawed assumptions are like the deadwood we prune away from our plants in the spring.

…If we don’t prune regularly, the deadwood affects our growth and success.

Here are 29 flawed assumptions about leadership, in no particular order. It’s time to get rid of these beliefs that are the deadwood holding back our leadership and our teams.Top 100 Leadership Blog

Special 5 Post Series Celebrating the Second Printing of 7 Lenses

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 1)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 2)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 3)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 4)

Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 5)

 

© 2018 Leading in Context LLC

The Future of “Leadership” (Do We Need a New Word For It?)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

While we are experiencing many global challenges, there is also a gradual global push toward better leadership.

There are many trends moving us toward a point where we clearly understand “leadership” to include good ethics and exclude any behavior that is purely self-serving or harmful to others. 

We have seen enough people making poor ethical decisions in the name of “leadership” to realize that we need to change something.  Some people may even think that things have gotten so bad that the term “leadership” should be replaced.

I disagree. Our understanding of what leadership means is evolving, so we shouldn’t throw out the word and replace it with a new one. We should continue the movement toward clearly re-defining it at a higher level.

What does redefining leadership at a higher level mean? 

  • When we say “leadership,” we will automatically include ethical responsibilities along with opportunities and benefits. 
  • When we say “leadership,” we will think “a privilege to serve” and not “a position of power.”
  • When we say “leadership,” we will think of the most humble, dedicated people who, working with others, try to leave the world better than they found it.

With this higher level understanding of leadership, we will never mistake a greedy, dishonest, fraudulent , harmful, toxic or care-less person who happens to have a title for a real leader. We will not be distracted by smoke and mirrors. We will look for substance and service. 

I am optimistic and I believe that this is the future of leadership. 

What do you think?  Are you ready to redefine leadership at a higher level? Are you ready to separate self-serving psuedo-leadership from real leadership?

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

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©2016 Leading in Context LLC

Leading in a Systems World

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Our leadership decisions create repercussions that reach far beyond the spaces where we work. The choices that we make may impact people, communities, the environment and society for weeks. months or generations.  This is why systems thinking is such an important  part of ethical leadership. Meg Wheatley speaks eloquently about the connectedness of the society and our ethical responsibility as leaders:

“Ethical leadership means seeing ourselves as part of the connected society, as part of multiple connected systems, and as responsible for our impact on the world. It also means seeking out opinions that differ from ours, because those opinions shed light on the parts of a system or problem that we may not yet understand.”                                                        

                                                                                 Margaret J. Wheatley

systems

We must use a systems view in day-to-day leadership because we lead in a systems world. The systems we touch are connected and inseparable.

Think for a moment about the impact of  changing one ingredient in a food product. That one change impacts the ingredients list on the packaging, it changes the way the food is prepared, it requires a changed production process, and perhaps additional equipment and training. It may require a new supplier,  and a new food storage and delivery schedule. It may change the advertising and website. It may require an allergy warning.

Now let’s take a regional example. What if you are a shipping company and you change your routes?  That would change services and delivery times for some of your customers. What if your customers are counting on fast deliveries and the change in schedule means that they can’t get their shipments out on time in the week of the change? What if you are delivering medical supplies to them that don’t reach a hospital in time?

Our Choices Have Impact 

We cannot make decisions without considering systems, because we live and lead in a systems world.  The systems in our world are multicultural, global and complex.

       “Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Peter Senge

Leading ethically requires that we do the hard thinking required to honor multiple constituents. It requires always remembering that we lead in a systems world – made up of human, economic, environmental, and societal systems. We must stretch our thinking until it is broad enough to encompass all of those systems.

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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

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

Leading Ethically and The Control Trap

042313ControllingLeadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Why is controlling leadership so harmful in organizations? There are a number of powerful reasons that have ethical implications:

1. Controlling leadership generates stress and fear

2. Controlling leadership reduces productivity, innovation and engagement

3. Controlling leadership takes the meaning and fun out of doing a job

4. Controlling leadership does not consider or respect employees’ knowledge and abilities

5. Controlling leadership creates a toxic work environment and a low-trust culture

People who are fearful and stressed cannot do their best work. Controlling leadership violates many of the principles of ethical leadership. What is the control trap? When a leader tries to control the actions of employees to make sure that they “do it right,” that controlling behavior takes away their natural ability to do good work. 

Here are some ways that we can bring out the best in our people and honor what they know how to do:

  • Extend Trust – We need to let people know that we trust them to do good work 
  • Remove Barriers – We need to remove barriers to effective work (even if we are part of the problem!)
  • Support  Interests – Ask people what they most want to learn and consider that when assigning projects

“A leader is not an administrator who loves to run others, but someone who carries water for his people so that they can get on with their jobs.” — Robert Townsend

Good performance is not something that you can control – but you can release it by the way that you choose to lead.

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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

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

Which of These Is Ethical Leadership?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Which levels shown in the graphic below represent ethical leadership?

Is Just Following Laws Ethical Leadership?

The first level on the left, sidestepping laws and ethics codes, is clearly not ethical leadership. This self-focused, opportunistic approach to leadership represents a leader operating below the law or seeking loopholes for personal gain.

Which of These is Ethical Leadership

What about the second level, in the middle? Is complying with laws and ethics codes ethical leadership? When leaders and businesses operate below the level of  laws and regulations, they are punished.

The punishment threshold, though, is definitely not the same as the level of ethical leadership that we need in organizations. If we settle for leadership at this level, we will be missing many other important aspects of ethical leadership that are well above the punishment threshold.  

Increasing Expectations

Following laws and regulations is just above the punishment threshold for ethical leadership.

Expectations are moving to a much higher level, a level at which we are expected to do much more. Look at the third level, the highest level of the graphic. Aren’t transparency, sustainability and honoring human rights now expected of all businesses? I believe they are, and there are other factors we need to consider that are not on this list. The minimum standard is gradually moving to a higher level as we better understand the impact of our choices on others in a global society.

There are more ways of interpreting ethical leadership than just the three shown in this graphic, but the graphic illustrates the point that leaders are interpreting “ethical leadership” at very different levels. 

As we understand our global interdependence more clearly, the expectations for leading ethically will only increase. Aiming for the principled level of ethical leadership, the highest level, prepares us to meet our challenges as responsible global citizens.

Questions For Reflection

  1. Which of the three levels shown in the graphic best depicts my perception of what ethical leadership includes?
  2. How can I convey the message to those I lead that expectations for ethical leadership and ethical behavior are increasing?
  3. How will I systematically learn what I’ll need to know in order to respond to the higher expectations of ethical leaders?
  4. How will I share what I learn with others?

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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

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

What Variables Impact How Freely We Extend Trust?

Variables of Trust

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The recent post Should Trust Be Freely Offered or Conditionally Earned? generated lively discussions in LinkedIn Groups about extending trust when we meet someone new. It was clear from reading the discussions that trust has many different dimensions.

Readers shared how they perceived trust – some saw it as an emotion, some saw it as a relationship, others described it as a mindset. They took the discussion beyond the original question and explored how we extend trust to others based on many variables.

Here is a partial list of the variables that impact how freely we extend trust, based on reader comments. What would you add?

Variables That Impact How Freely We Extend Trust

  1. Our Openness to Learning
  2. Our Past Experiences, Stereotypes and Misinformation (What We Believe is True)
  3. The Other Person’s Reliability and Morality Based on Our Experience With Them
  4. The Level of Our Relationship With the Other Person
  5. Our Perception (Glass Half Full or Half Empty) and Approach to Life
  6. Whether or Not We Share Values or Common Goals With the Other Person
  7. The Perceived Level of Risk in the Situation (and Our Level of Fear)
  8. Our Expectations About How Trustworthy the Person Will Be
  9. How Much the Other Person Has Extended Trust to Us
  10. How Clear the Communication is Between Us
  11. Our Perception of How Capable the Other Person Is
  12. Our Perception of the Other Person’s Motives
  13. The Other Person’s Behavior

In spite of how many variables readers mentioned that impact how freely we extend trust, the majority felt strongly that it is still good to freely extend trust. Below are some of the reasons they named for freely extending trust when we meet someone new.

Reasons Why We Should Extend Trust Freely 

  • Most people are honorable
  • Extending trust is leading by example, showing the other person the way we would like to be trusted
  • Our lives will be unhappy if we mistrust everyone
  • As we trust others, they are more likely to trust us back

Special thanks to the many readers who posted insightful comments in response to the original post. I’ll leave you with this quote:

“Someone who thinks the world is always cheating him is right. He is missing that wonderful feeling of trust in someone or something.” – Eric Hoffer

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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

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

Top 12 Reader Favorites 2012

By Linda Fisher Thornton

These Top Twelve Posts published in 2012 were the favorites of Leading in Context Blog readers. They all provide a context for thinking about how to make ethical choices in a complex world.

TopTwelve

1.   What is Creativity?

2.   Top 100 Thinkers in Management, Leadership and Business 

3.   100 Trends to Watch For 2013

4.   Developing Globally Responsible Leaders

5.   What is Unethical Leadership?

6.   10 Thinking Traps (That Ethical Leaders Avoid)

7.   Leadership and… Human Rights

8.   Developing the Ethical Leader of the Future

9.    The Learning Paradox: How Too Much Homework Harms

10.  Business Leader Future: A Sketch

11.  “Ethics” Means Acting Beyond Self-Interest

12.  13 Leadership Temptations (to Conquer in 2013

Classic Posts – Honorable Mention

 These posts are Honorable Mentions – These posts were not published in 2012, but were still in the top 12 most popular posts overall in 2012:

Planned Obsolescence: Is it Ethical? No. Can We Still Have the Newest Gadgets? Yes!

Ethical Grey Areas: Our Choices Define Us

Case Study: Is Withholding Information From Other Leaders Unethical?

“Leadership Ethics Training: Why is it So Hard To Get it Right?”

Ethical Interpersonal Behavior Graphic: Red, Yellow and Green Zones

What questions about responsible leadership are on your mind as we head into 2013? Feel free to suggest topics for future posts.

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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

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

Should Trust Be Freely Offered or Conditionally Earned?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

SAMSUNG

Should We Trust Right Away (or Wait for People to Show That They Can be Trusted)?

When we meet someone new, should we trust them right away? Should we assume that they are trustworthy and give them the benefit of the doubt, or should we hold back until we are sure that they are worthy of our trust?

Each of these approaches has a powerful impact on the trust level within our organization. One has a powerful positive effect and the other has a powerful negative effect. Let’s explore the pitfalls of waiting for others to earn our trust, and the benefits of extending trust freely.

Pitfalls of Waiting for Others to Earn Our Trust

We erode trust by waiting for others to earn our trust. If we meet someone new and think “They have to earn my trust,” then we are intentionally withholding trust from them. We are automatically assuming the worst about their intentions and their level of trustworthiness.

This “wait and see” way of thinking about trust can lead to a low trust culture in several ways.

  1. If we are wait for someone to be trustworthy (and assume that they won’t be), our assumption will change how we treat them. Think about how we might treat someone we think is untrustworthy. Will we be eager to share ideas, offer support and collaborate?
  2. If we are waiting for someone to prove that they are trustworthy before we trust them, how will they be able to tell that we are trustworthy? If we don’t use behaviors that extend trust, how can we expect them to trust us enough to extend trust?
  3. If each one of us is waiting to see if the other will earn trust, we will quickly descend into a stalemate, with neither one extending trust. It will be very difficult for us to work together successfully while stuck in this stalemate. We may even look for examples of the other person’s untrustworthiness (examples that  prove that we were right about them) and miss the positive things that they do.

Benefits of Extending Trust

We can build trust by assuming that people will be trustworthy. If we meet someone new and choose to trust them right away, we are automatically assuming the best about their intentions and their level of trustworthiness.

This type of “assuming positive intent” can lead to a high trust culture in several ways.

  1. If we expect someone to be trustworthy (and assume that they will be), our assumption will change how we treat them. Think about how we might treat someone we think is trustworthy. We will be eager to share ideas, offer support and collaborate.
  2. If we are not waiting for someone to prove that they are trustworthy before we trust them, we can demonstrate that we are trustworthy by extending trust to them. If we use behaviors that extend trust, we can expect them to more quickly trust us enough to extend trust in return.
  3. When one person extends trust, and the other reciprocates, it is easier to work together successfully. We may even look for examples of the other person’s trustworthiness (examples that  prove that we were right about them) and overlook the small negative things that they do.

Trust is Relational – It Takes Two

So which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Extending trust or earning trust?

Trust in the workplace works best if we give people the benefit of the doubt. We must reach out and extend trust in order to receive it.

Stephen M. R. Covey says it well in his book The Speed of Trust:

“Trust is reciprocal – in other words, the more you trust others, the more you, yourself are trusted in return.”

Stephen M. R. Covey, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

When we withhold trust as a general rule (for no good reason), we are eroding trust.   When we assume the best and extend trust (for no good reason), we are building trust.  

Sometimes people will disappoint us when we extend trust. Most of the time, though, people will delight us with how well they do when we expect the best from them.

Related Posts:

5 Unethical Phrases: Low Trust

Trustworthy Business Behavior

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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

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 

 

What is Unethical Leadership?

The Boundaries of “Unethical Leadership”

How do we define unethical leadership?

While there are hundreds of stories that illustrate examples of unethical leadership in the news, those stories taken together still do not clearly define the boundaries of what unethical leadership includes.

To be relevant, our definition of “unethical leadership” has to be broad enough to include the many ways that leaders behave unethically. To guide ethical leadership behavior, it must also be specific enough to provide boundaries for leadership behavior and decision making.

Defining Unethical Leadership 

Our definition must be broad enough and specific enough to define what society considers to be moral behavior. Brown and Mitchell, in their 2010 Business Ethics Quarterly article Ethical and Unethical Leadership: Exploring New Avenues for Future Research , define unethical leadership as “behaviors conducted and decisions made by organizational leaders that are illegal and/or violate moral standards, and those that impose processes and structures that promote unethical conduct by followers.”

Using that definition, we quickly find ourselves trying to determine exactly what the “moral standards” are that ethical leaders are expected to follow. According to Wikianswers.com, “A moral leader is an individual who governs or makes decisions based on fairness and ethical guidelines, rather than personal, political, or financial considerations.” (wiki.answers.com, What is a moral leader?)  

Being unwilling or unable to think beyond our own personal interests and our own personal gain can lead to unethical leadership, but not all unethical leadership decisions are made intentionally.

Types of Unethical Leadership

Unethical leadership appears in a wide variety of forms and happens for a variety of reasons. Sometimes unethical leadership is motivated by greed and involves harming others to make more profit.

“Dark side research has uncovered a variety of unethical leader acts. Various terms have evolved in the literature, such as abusive supervision (Tepper, 2000), supervisor undermining (Duffy et al., 2002), toxic leadership (Frost, 2004), and tyrannical leadership (Ashforth, 1994). Research shows these leaders are oppressive, abusive, manipulative, and calculatingly undermining (Tepper, 2007). Their actions are perceived as intentional and harmful, and may be the source of legal action against employers (Tepper, 2007). Therefore, destructive leader behavior is unethical.

Unethical leadership, however, transcends beyond the leaders’ own behavior. In seeking to accomplish organizational goals, leaders can encourage corrupt and unethical acts within their organizations.”

Michael E. Brown and Marie S. Mitchell, Ethical and Unethical Leadership: Exploring Avenues for Future Research, Business Ethics Quarterly

Unethical leadership may also happen when leaders fail to take the time to consider the impact of their choices on the many stakeholders involved. Decisions with unintended consequences can be just as harmful as intentionally unethical decisions.

“We need to understand the ethical challenges faced by imperfect humans who take on the responsibilities of leadership, so that we can develop morally better leaders, followers, institutions, and organizations. At issue is not simply what ethical and effective leaders do, but what leaders have to confront, and, in some cases overcome, to be ethical and effective. “

Joann B. Ciulla, “Ethics and Leadership Effectiveness,” Book Chapter in The Nature of Leadership. Eds. J. Antonakis, A. T. Cianciolo, and R. J. Sternberg.

Leaders are dealing with a high degree of complexity, yet lack a detailed road map to guide their process. As we develop leaders for success in the future, we must focus on the ethical elements of their work, and help them work through the many difficult choices they will have to make.

The Complexities of Unethical Leadership:

Unethical People Thrive on Ignorance of Others by Gordon Clogston, leadershipcourseware.com

Examples of Unethical Behavior in the Workplace by Victoria Duff, Demand Media at smallbusiness.chron.com

Spotting the Unethical Leader in 2010 by Dr. Daryl Green, e-zinearticles.com

Systems Thinking: Twisted Leadership Safety Ethics by Dr. James Leemann, ishn.com

Ethical Leadership Culture: The Case of the Dissenting Senior Leader by Linda Fisher Thornton, LeadinginContext.com

Moral Leadership Standards:

The Moral Foundations of Ethical Leadership by Hester and Killian, in the Journal of Value Based Leadership, valuesbasedleadershipjournal.com

Moral Leadership as Shaped by Human Evolution by Paul Lawrence, blogs.hbr.org

The Difficulties of Being a Moral Leader in an Unjust World Speech by Jim Sterba, University of Notre Dame, online at scu.edu

Leading for Ethical Performance by Linda Fisher Thornton, LeadinginContext.com

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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 

5 More Ways to Avoid the “Rightness” Trap

By Linda Fisher Thornton

5 More Ways to Avoid the “Rightness” Trap

The comments kept coming! Here are 5 More Ways to Avoid the “Rightness” Trap based on social media responses to Is Needing to Be “Right” Unethical?  They are each illustrated here with quotes.

1.  A Sense of Humor

 “Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding.”

 Agnes Repplier

2.  Empathy

“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.”

Siddhārtha Gautama

3.  Authenticity (your inner voice)

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

Carl G. Jung

4.  Awareness of Our Biases

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an awareness about ourselves.”

Carl G. Jung

5.  Care

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Theodore Roosevelt

The original September 5, 2012 post about rightness Is Needing to Be “Right” Unethical? set an all-time one-day record for the Leading in Context Blog. Perhaps readers believe, as I do, that we need to work together in ways that respect both our individuality and our connectedness. To achieve that, we will need to be always vigilant and always learning.

Related Posts:

Is Needing to Be “Right” Unethical?

10 Ways to Avoid the Rightness Trap

Civility is an Ethical Issue

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 

7 Reasons Ethics Matters in Brand Value

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethics Impacts Brand Value

In the article Brand Promise: What’s Your Ethical Brand Value, Ethisphere.com highlights a shift in corporation value from predominately tangible value to intangible value:

The way in which corporations conduct business has changed dramatically in recent decades. The industrial complex, traditionally based on hard assets, has evolved. Three decades ago, according to a report published by Thomson Reuters and Interbrand, 95 percent of the average corporation’s value was composed of tangible assets. Today, 75 percent of the average corporation’s value is now intangible. Accordingly, the most valuable asset for most corporations is their good name, or their brand and reputation.

Brand Promise: What’s Your Ethical Brand Value,  Ethisphere.com

The report “Brandz™ Top 100: Most Valuable Global Brands 2011”   at MillwardBrown.com describes consumer trends and how ethical behavior impacts a company’s brand value. Customers now shop globally, and when they buy, they compare products more and more often based on ethics. In addition to shopping cautiously during the recession when money is tight, there is also a trend toward thinking about how each purchase impacts the global community and the planet.

“The new ethos frowned on flaunting and encouraged awareness of how one’s purchases, whether diamonds from African mines or apparel stitched in Asian factories, impacted the environment and people all along the supply chain.”

“Brandz™ Top 100: Most Valuable Global Brands 2011”  MillwardBrown.com

Ethical Businesses Benefit From the New Ways Consumers Shop

Millward Brown uses the term ‘considered consumption’ to describe the current trend in consumer behavior.

Frugality eased last year, but consumers didn’t spend frivolously, suggesting that brands will continue to feel the impact of the recession-accelerated shift to considered – rather than conspicuous – consumption.  “Brandz™ Top 100: Most Valuable Global Brands 2011”  MillwardBrown.com

7 Practical Reasons Why Ethics Impacts Brand Value

  1. Customers are thinking more before buying
  2. They are evaluating the ethics of companies and products
  3. They are making responsible consumption a priority
  4. They place their “vote” for ethical business by purchasing from ethical companies
  5. They value trust
  6. They expect ethical behavior
  7. They spread the word when companies are responsible and offer quality and value
Advice to Build On
Alexander F. Brigham and Stefan Linssen highlight the importance of reputation in brand value in their article Your Brand Reputational Value is Irreplaceable. Protect It! at Forbes.com:
In a recent survey released jointly by the World Economic Forum and the Fleishman-Hillard public relations firm, three-fifths of chief executives said they believed corporate brand and reputation represented more than 40% of their company’s market capitalization. That value is the organization’s brand reputational value.
In addition to reporting about global brand value and industry changes, “Brandz™ Top 100: Most Valuable Global Brands 2011” includes advice for companies and their brands about how to reach today’s consumers during difficult economic times.

 

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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 

Complexity, Creativity and Collaboration

By Linda Fisher Thornton

How are Complexity and Creativity Related?

We are living in a complex world. Dealing with complexity is easier when we utilize collective knowledge and creativity. IBM interviewed more than 700 Corporate Human Resource Officers and found that creativity, flexibility and collaboration need to play a major role in leadership development:

Based on the key capability gaps revealed in this study, we believe organizations should focus on three critical workforce imperatives: cultivating creative leaders, mobilizing for speed and flexibility and capitalizing on collective intelligence.

Working Beyond Borders Executive Summary, IBM.com

Complexity is the Path We’re On 

It’s tempting to repeat the same strategies we’ve always used successfully as leaders – but those same approaches may not work well when we’re solving complex problems. To be successful leaders in a global society, we need to learn how to navigate through complexity.

The world’s private and public sector leaders believe that a rapid escalation of “complexity” is the biggest challenge confronting them. They expect it to continue — indeed, to accelerate — in the coming years. They are equally clear that their enterprises today are not equipped to cope effectively with this complexity in the global environment.

Capitalizing on Complexity: Insights from the Global Chief Executive Officer Survey, ibm.com

Creativity is a Way Through It

In his article in Psychology Today, The Creative Personality , Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes that “Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an “individual,” each of them is a “multitude.””

In his Note to Fellow CEOs, IBM Chairman Samuel J. Palmisano shares that “We occupy a world that is connected on multiple dimensions, and at a deep level — a global system of systems. That means, among other things, that it is subject to systems-level failures, which require systems-level thinking about the effectiveness of its physical and digital infrastructures.” The IBM report Capitalizing on Complexity found that Executives are realizing that creative thinking is critically important for business leaders.

…they identify “creativity” as the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through this complexity.

Capitalizing on Complexity: Insights from the Global Chief Executive Officer Survey, ibm.com

Diversity of Ideas Provides Perspective

When dealing with complexity, we need fresh thinking.  We need to listen to all ideas that may help, regardless of where they come from.  We need to build solutions together. To do that successfully requires giving up the notion that we are “right.” In their HBR article “Creativity and the Role of the Leader” Amabile and Khairi recommend that we foster creativity in those we lead by:

  • Not thinking of ourselves as the source of ideas and bring out and champion the ideas of others
  • Opening our organization to diverse perspectives
  • Knowing when to impose controls on the creative process and when not to
Key Elements For Dealing With Complexity
As leaders, we are all “learning through” complexity and we need to use:
  1. an open mind
  2. the collective wisdom of the groups and organizations we lead
  3. respect for others
  4. respect for ideas, and
  5. respect for differences.

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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 

What is Creativity?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

What is Creativity?

In the leadership development world, creativity is currently getting a great deal of attention. But what is it? Can you learn it? Is it a skill? How do we lead in ways that encourage it?

When we explore the question “What is creativity?” from a thinking and learning point of view, an open and active mind is clearly required – one that can see new possibilities. But is there more to it than that? This post explores the variables that make up what we think of as “creativity.”

 Definitions

Creativity is studied across a number of disciplines, and according to Wikipedia:

“Scholarly interest in creativity ranges widely…Creativity and creative acts are therefore studied across several disciplines – psychologycognitive scienceeducationphilosophy (particularly philosophy of science), technologytheologysociologylinguisticsbusiness studies, and economics. As a result, there are a multitude of definitions and approaches.”

“Creativity,” Wikipedia.com

Is it A Skill or a Mindset?

Can you learn “creativity” as a skill? According to John Maxwell in his book Thinking for a Change, creativity is not a single skill or attribute, but a mindset that embraces a broad array of different things including Ambiguity, Learning, Possibility, Connecting, Ideas, Options, Exploring Gaps and Inconsistencies, the Offbeat, and Failure.

In his book The Evolving Self; A Psychology for the Third Millennium, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi reflects on the limits of reason and says “We must foster intuition to anticipate changes before they occur; empathy to understand that which cannot clearly be expressed; wisdom to see the connection between apparently unrelated events; and creativity to discover new ways of defining problems, new rules that will make it possible to adapt to the unexpected.”

Creativity, then, is as a way of thinking – a flexible, connecting mindset that helps us deal with a changing world, and keeps us nimble and adaptable.

How is it Different From Critical Thinking? 

 How does creative thinking relate to critical thinking? According to Sir Anthony Jay (Management Trainer) “The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions.” Gail Sheehy (Author) says that “creativity can be described as letting go of certainties.” 

The University of Michigan “Criticial and Creative Thinking” Page at umich.edu sees criticial thinking as “the process we use to reflect on, assess and judge the assumption underlying our own and others ideas and efforts” and creative thinking as “the process we use to develop ideas that are unique, useful and worthy of further elaboration.” 

In his paper “Critical Thinking and Creativity:An Overview and Comparison of the Theories” Jean Marrapodi wrote that “Creative thinking is designed to create, and critical thinking is designed to analyze. It seems that creative thinking has aspects of critical thinking, and critical thinking has aspects of creativity.”

How Do Creative Thinkers Handle Failing?

Creativity is now seen as generating a great deal of value in our complex global society, but it requires the element of action and a tolerance for failure. In his article “Wierd Rules of Creativity: Think You Can Manage Creativity? Here’s Why You’re Wrong” Robert Sutton says that

If you want a creative organization, inaction is the worst kind of failure—and the only kind that deserves to be punished. Researcher Dean Keith Simonton provides strong evidence from multiple studies that creativity results from action. Renowned geniuses like Picasso, da Vinci, and physicist Richard Feynman didn’t succeed at a higher rate than their peers. They simply produced more, which meant that they had far more successes and failures than their unheralded colleagues.

Robert Sutton, “Wierd Rules of Creativity: Think You Can Manage Creativity? Here’s Why You’re Wrong” , Harvard Business School Working Knowledge for Business Leaders, online at hbs.edu

The Role of Creativity in Leadership

As leaders, we need to create an environment where learning and creativity are encouraged, where people are respectful, and where work is meaningful. In such an environment, people can actually enjoy what they’re doing.

Here are two compelling definitions  that place creativity in the context of the fun and the joy of learning:  

“Creativity is the joy of not knowing it all.” Ernie Zelinski, Creativity Expert 

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”  John Maxwell, Leadership Author

When we use our creativity, we can do our best work.  In her article “What is Creativity Anyway” Huffington Post author Jan Phillips says that “Creativity is about being fully alive, living courageously, or as the painter Joan Miro´ says, ‘Expressing with precision all the gold sparks the soul gives off.’ ”

Using our creativity is part of expressing our authenticity as leaders. Leaders who are leading authentically and using their creative capacities within ethical boundaries will find it easier to

  • stay ahead of change
  • build a loyal, productive team
  • find innovative solutions to complex problems, and
  • engage others in the work of meeting goals and advancing the organization’s vision and mission.

In his article on HBR Blog Network called “Why Are Creative Leaders So Rare?” Navi Radjou describes “a new breed of visionary and empathetic leaders who act less as commanders and more as coaches, less as managers and more as facilitators, and who foster self-respect rather that demanding respect.”

Creative Thinking Resources:

Creativity Tools, MindTools.com

Creativity Tools, WatchOut4Snakes.com

Tools for Creating Ideas, CreatingMinds.org

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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 

 

Developing Globally Responsible Leaders

Global Guidance Beyond the Law

Laws serve as the minimum standards for society, but responsible leadership requires that we go well beyond those minimum standards.

This post explores resources that help us understand (1) what it means to be a globally responsible leader and (2) what kinds of learning opportunities help leaders develop a global sense of responsibility.

Who is the Globally Responsible Leader?

Leaders build responsible cultures and companies through strong ethical values and their own daily responsible actions and choices.

As leaders, we will help shape the future of the businesses and societies we serve through our small actions and big decisions.

What if we’re not a leader in a global business? What if we’re part of a small, local company? In our complex connected society, we all need to be thinking about ethical issues beyond our customers, our employees, our communities and our profits.

What is globally responsible leadership and why does it need to be a business priority? If we did think beyond our geographical boundaries, what would that look like? How can we help develop the present and future generation of globally responsible leaders?

Today I share a collection of quotes from varied sources that describe the “thinking process” of a globally responsible leader.

Purpose

“The globally responsible leader gets out of bed every day and goes to work energised by a sense of purpose. S/he has a strong enough sense of self not to subordinate personally important values but to impose those values on production.”

To Be a Responsible Leader by Grant Jones, GRLI Magazine, June 2011

Following Ethical Principles

“Guiding principles that establish a starting point for globally responsible leadership include: fairness; freedom; honesty; humanity; tolerance; transparency; responsibility and solidarity; and sustainability. These are not fixed ethical points but need to be constantly refined and developed.”

Globally Responsible Leadership: A Call for Engagement, An Invitation to Join the Founding Members of http://www.globallyresponsible leaders.net, at grli.org

Societal Responsibility and Sustainability

“Corporate policy in its widest sense – that means including the ethics around bringing their products to the market – should set objectives that take the corporation’s societal (global) responsibility into account. That will be less complicated for the marketers of baby-food than for those trading arms; but both will have to do it.”

Global Responsibility,  The European Foundation for Management Development (efmd.org)

“It is no longer acceptable for a corporation to experience economic prosperity in isolation from those agents impacted by its actions. A firm must now focus its attention on both increasing its bottom line and being a good corporate citizen. Keeping abreast of global trends and remaining committed to financial obligations to deliver both private and public benefits have forced organizations to reshape their frameworks, rules, and business models.”

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Business, by Amato, Henderson and Florence, Center for Creative Leadership

Creating a Globally Responsible Culture

“Create economic and societal progress in a globally responsible and sustainable way.”

The Globally Responsible Leader: A Call to Action, Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative, grli.org

“Leadership for global responsibility goes beyond setting a vision and goals. The central point is action to create alignment and to maintain commitment, such as: configuration of resources, development of supporting policies, implementation of globally responsible decision-making criteria, setting personal examples, stakeholder engagement and alliances, and development of a globally responsible mindset.”

Global Leadership Competence: A Cultural Intelligence Perspective, Chin and Gaynier at csuohio.edu

How Can We Develop Responsible Global Leaders?

Embracing Complexity

“Multiple-perspective analysis helps students to understand the points of view of others who live in their community or across the world. Multiple-perspective analysis deals with difficult questions of power, money, resource distribution and conflict of interest. Such questions have complex answers.”

Exploring Sustainable Development: A Multiple-Perspective Approach UNESCo Education Sector

Seeing From Multiple Perspectives

“A multiple-perspective approach promotes interdisciplinary and intercultural competencies as it addresses challenges to local or planetary sustainability. Interdisciplinary thinking, in which concepts and knowledge from different academic traditions are used to analyze situations or solve problems, allows students to use knowledge in new and creative ways. ‘Intercultural dialogue contributes to sustainable development by facilitating knowledge exchange – traditional, local, and scientific. Through combining all these valuable forms of knowledge, more sustainable practices can be developed and better resolutions to current issues may be achieved’ (Tilbury & Mulà, 2009, p. 7).”

Exploring Sustainable Development: A Multi-Perspective Approach, United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005 – 2014), unesco.org

Educating Responsibly

“But above and beyond these considerations, the developed world, its universities and its corporations must show in practice where the priorities lie. Foremost among them must be the need to bring global responsibility to the level of the individually educated person, which means committing the necessary resources to educating socially responsible citizens for a world desperately in need of them.”

Global Responsibility The European Foundation for Management Development, efmd.org

“Principle 3 | Method: We will create educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership.”

United Nations Principles of Responsible Management Education, unprme.org

Leading Into the Future

Seeing issues and problems from multiple perspectives, and seeing ourselves as part of a global community will help us lead our businesses into the future. For anyone training, coaching, mentoring, teaching or simply setting a good example for other leaders in the organization, demonstrating globally responsible leadership should be a top priority.

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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 

Leading Ethically Through Complexity: How to Prepare Leaders

The Leader of the Future
In response to the post “Business Leader Future: A Sketch” Graham posted a question about how we can support leaders who are learning to lead in the ways described in that post. It seemed difficult for some readers to imagine a single leader being able to handle complexity so responsibly in a fast-paced global business arena.  One reader described the leader in the sketch as a “saint.”
·
How to Help Leaders Prepare to Handle Complexity
I spent some time thinking about what Senior Leaders and leadership development professionals can do to be sure that their leaders are learning the kind of leadership that is in such high demand now, and will be essential for success in the future.
My list of “10 Practical Ways to Help Leaders Lead Ethically Through Complexity” is below. What would you add?
·
10 Practical Ways to Help Leaders Lead Ethically Through Complexity
1.   Help them learn to embrace complexity
2.   Help them learn to respect others
3.   Help them learn to respect differences
4.   Help them learn to respect the environment
5.   Help them understand global trends
6.   Help them understand their ethical responsibilities
7.   Help them learn to think like a global leader
8.   Help them understand the importance of learning and adapting
9.   Help them understand the importance of service to others and society
10. Help them embrace social media and socially connected 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 

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