Archive for the ‘ Accountability ’ Category

Ethical Behavior in Leadership

“Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one is watching – even when doing the wrong thing is legal”. – Aldo Leopold

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Ethical
adjective
Avoiding activities or organizations that do harm to people or the environment.

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Examples of non-ethical behavior in business and leadership are all around us; and recent well-publicized ethical breaches in organizations have brought a great deal of attention to the issue of ethical behavior – from political campaigns filled with half-truths or outright lies, and distortions to support a viewpoint; to examples of business tax evasion; to politicians submitting fraudulent expenses. The lack of integrity around the world is alarming. Even Patricia Wallington writing for CIO identifies that 82% of CEO’s admitted lying about their golf scores.

Ethics

Ethical behavior is essential in leadership – good leaders have integrity, honesty, and are inclined to do the right thing (which is not, necessarily, the easy or quick choice). Ethical leaders will display self-confidence, and the people around them will be more inclined to work for a leader they know they can trust to make the right decisions. A paper published by Johnathan K. Nelson, George Mason University explains that ethical leadership is associated with a number of desired outcomes related to employees at the individual and group levels, including willingness to exert extra effort and help others; better task performance; increased job satisfaction and commitment to the organization; perceptions of an ethical climate; optimism in the future of the organization and their place within it; perceptions of task significance, autonomy, and voice – including a willingness to report problems to management.

But how can we work to become ethical leaders?

Before we look at how we can become ethical leaders, we need to look at a bigger-picture approach of identifying ourselves as moral people. Jonathan K Nelson’s paper goes on to identify key traits of ethical people:

  • Ensure that ethical behavior in their private life is consistent with the moral standards they publically promote. Ensuring that their actions are not hypocritical of their words.
  • Take responsibility for their actions.
  • Show concern for other people.
  • Treat others fairly and with respect.
  • Use personal and organizational values to guide their behavior and decisions.
  • Implement decisions that are objective and fair, based on fact and not opinion.

Ethics in leadership, however, goes beyond simply acting as a moral person. Being an ethical leader includes recognizing that employees are looking for guidance in their decision-making, and they need to recognize that they have power of influence over the behavior of others. Ethical leaders:

  • Demonstrate examples of ethical behavior and ethical decision-making.
  • Explain decisions not only in making a business case, but in ethical terms as well.
  • Discuss ethical issues in their communication with employees; and encourage ethics-centered discussions, where they can encourage subordinates to speak up about their ethics-related questions and concerns.
  • Explain ethical rules and principles.
  • Give subordinates a say in decision-making and listen to their ideas and concerns.
  • Set clear ethical standards and enforce those standards through the use of organizational rewards, and holding people accountable when standard are not met.

EthicalSystems.Org also provides gives us some ideas we can apply to our leadership role to empower us to act more ethically on a day-to-day basis:

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Make ethics a clear priority
Ethical leaders make ethics a clear and consistent part of their agendas, set the standards for those around them, set examples of appropriate behavior, and hold everyone accountable when those standards aren’t met.

Make ethical culture a part of every personnel-related function in your organization
Leaders need to work hard through the hiring process, training new employees, and continuing performance management to bring in the right employees in the first instance, and then help them to work within the organization’s underlying values on ethical business.

Encourage, measure, and reward ethical leadership.
Ethical leadership from the top down is very important – not only because it creates an environment in which lower-level ethical leaders can flourish and grow – but ethical leadership at the supervisory level will guide and encourage followers’ attitudes and behavior.

Ethical leadership, at all levels of an organization, not only encourages employees within a business to act with moral integrity and make the right decisions by providing the right guidance and support on decisions and empowering employees to raise concerns when they feel something isn’t right, but this in turn will support the ethical view of the business, both internally and externally. Ethical leadership has an associated positive effect on employees. Ethical leadership supports the organization in their stead within society ensuring that the business as a whole is able to operate ethically and fairly.

For further reading on ethics in leadership, the Community Tool Box has an article which clearly defines ethics and ethical leadership; and looks at further suggestions on practicing ethical leadership; and Jack Zenger, writing for Forbes looks at ways to prevent corruption (and in turn, develop ethical behavior) in the top leadership levels of an organization.

Emotional Technology: Innovations That Could Change Leaders

There’s currently some fantastic technology out there, from wearables and self-lacing shoes (yes, like the ones in Back to the Future) to VR and spectacular advances in science that will someday make it to consumer products. But what about beyond the current advances? And what about tech that can help us become better leaders?

Currently, there doesn’t seem to be any fancy tech piece that can suddenly make you a better leader. And with more and more Millennials entering the workforce who are tech dependent, it’s becoming harder and harder for them to perform when they are promoted.

And yet, the technology is on its way. One such prediction is the rise of “Emotional Technology”, as outlined in the following:


Particularly with the the first (mood reader) and third (Socrates) pieces of tech, leaders will better be able to understand themselves and regulate their responses. This will drastically improve their leadership skills by providing on-the-spot feedback, insight, and recommendations.

What do you think? Would you find technology like this useful as a leader?

Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.

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“Consistent”
kənˈsɪst(ə)nt
adjective
Acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate.

You don’t need to look far to see that it’s clear that people value consistent behaviour in their leadership. Just by running an internet search for “Consistency in Leadership” brings up a ream of articles, blogs, quotes, and other evidence that it’s a valued trait. Entrepeneur.com lists ‘consistency’ as one of the top 50 rules in leadership; the Leadership Toolbox lists it as one of the 7 most important traits of Leadership; and Bob MacDonald describes how a lack of consistency is equivalent of a lack of leadership ability. There are 95 million results from that search term on Google, and no doubt this is growing further by the day.

Consistency is important.

Most of us understand that consistency is important in any business. So that customers or clients have confidence in the goods and services provided, businesses must offer consistent quality and service. Take a simple example – I’m sure almost everyone has a favourite restaurant. Mine is Ping Pong Dim Sum, on London’s Southbank (in case you were wondering, and feel like taking me for dinner). It’s my favourite, because not only is the food delicious – but it’s always delicious, every time I go. It’s my favourite, because not only is the service great – but it’s always great. It’s my favourite, because not only do the cocktails taste great – but they always taste great. I like going there because I can guarantee, regardless of when I go, who I go with, or what I order, it’s going to be consistently good. Think about your own favourite restaurant – it’s probably your favourite for similar reasons.

Without the ability to offer this consistent service, customers will simply go looking elsewhere to have their needs met. For example, I only ever go to one store to buy denim jeans, but if River Island ever stopped making jeans with ‘short’ sizing, I’m going to have to walk out of the store on my disproportionately stumpy legs, and shop elsewhere.

This principle holds true for employees in search of a leader, too.

LeadersOughtToKnow.com point out that, if a leader develops a reputation among their employees for being inconsistent in their words and/or actions, employees will lose confidence in their ability to lead effectively; and, as a result, employees may go in search of leadership elsewhere. This might seem extreme, but employees all want, and need, a leader to assist in the situations where they don’t know how to help themselves. Inconsistency in leadership can derail that, because employees can’t rely on their leader to apply the same rules either to every employee, or in similar situations.

Inconsistency in leadership can lead to a number of negative feelings among those being led. Whenever I think about times where I have experienced inconsistency in leadership, I found myself having feelings of resentment that they had applied different rules for different people, and I found myself thinking this was unfair. I felt like I didn’t know where I stood because they couldn’t provide me with a logical explanation of how they had applied their decision; and I found myself thinking that they probably weren’t a very good leader, because they aren’t able to make a consistent choice.

Entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker, late Jim Rohn has been quoted as saying: “Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals”.

But, why is consistency so essential?

Inc.com outlines in detail some of the reasons consistency in leadership is a benefit:

Consistency allows for measurement. Until you have tried something for a period of time, and continued testing it in a consistent manner, you can’t make an informed decision whether it works or not. Do you remember carrying out science experiments at school, and having to change the variables of the experiment, but keeping everything else exactly the same to make the science project a “fair test”? Consistency in leadership has the same principle – you can’t measure your leadership effectiveness if what you are measuring isn’t performed consistently.

Consistency establishes your reputation. Imagine yourself in a situation at work where you’ve made a mistake, and you’re going to have to ‘fess up to the boss – as you walk down the corridor toward their office you pass a colleague who’s just left the office, and you ask them one simple question: “What mood are they in?”. If a leader cannot be consistent, their employees never know how they will react, and the leader will have a reputation for being unreliable, confusing, and – yes – inconsistent.

Consistency maintains your leadership message. “Do as I say, and not as I do” cannot be a reliable leadership principle. A team will pay as much, if not more, attention to what their leader does as to what they say. Consistency in leadership serves as a model for how employees behave – if a leader treats a meeting as unimportant, they shouldn’t be surprised when employees do the same.

Evan Carmichael points out three further reasons why leadership is a valued trait:

First, following we now live in unpredictable and uncertain times – The Telegraph released an article in February 2015 about how the world is on the brink of another credit crisis (and no one can forget the credit crunch in 2008); so now, when people go to work they want as much certainty as they can get. Consistency provides workers with the certainty that, if everything else is uncertain, they can still look to their leadership to deliver certain, predictable, consistent leadership behaviours.

Second, leaders must be able to demonstrate a level of self-discipline. If they can’t control their own behavior and attitude in different situations, then how can a leader expect those following them to control theirs?

Third, being inconsistent wastes your employees valuable time, because they spend so much time worrying about which way their leader is going to jump – this time could be much better spent doing their work.

3 Things to do when you are Failing

We’ve all been there. You have a plan worked out and tried to execute the plan to the best of your ability, but then external factors seriously derailed those plans. Some of those factors are outside of your control and others are within your control, but either way it doesn’t feel very good. You are probably swamped with pressure, demands, and you just want it fixed, resolved, or gone and out of your life. All of those feelings are quite natural, but the way we handle them will determine the outcome. If you are faced with the situation, you should be doing these three things to ensure A. your success on the current project B. the problem doesn’t happen again:

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Self Diagnosis

This is your best friend. It may feel difficult to do, uncomfortable, and awkward at times, but it is necessary to see where the issues are coming from.  What you need to do is ask the tough questions. I’ve recently consulted with a business that was having a hard time retaining customers. Through asking the tough questions, I found that they didn’t have a measure of cost of customer acquisition, nor did they have a process for keeping/following up with their current customers. It is really imperative that you ask yourself the tough questions in order to really get to solving the real issues. There was a lot of finger pointing and “I don’t know” for process oriented questions that could have been resolved with  a little self-diagnosis and tough questions.

Self-Leadership

This is single-handedly the most underutilized tool in leadership development. At its core, it is understanding yourself and knowing what to ask for from your leader. There should be “self-leadership” seminars all over the world about how to lead yourself and manage up. Often, we spend time analyzing and discussing others’ leadership success and failures, and we fail to discuss the self-leadership failures on both sides.

Attack the problem

Ultimately, the last thing you want to do when you are failing or have a problem is to deal with it. Instead, you just want it to go away and leave you alone. What you should be doing is taking steps to attack it. It doesn’t matter what the task is; choose to attack it and embrace the challenge. By understanding and leading yourself and taking on the problem head on, you most effectively tackle the failure and move on to a more productive state. It’s hard to do, sure, but you will thank yourself for it in the end.

Top 5 Things People Don’t Know About Virtual Workers

Are Organizations driving out talented Millennial Leaders?

As I stepped up to the podium to give my Keynote at a recent leadership conference, I begin to second guess my whole topic of conversation. My topic, How Millennials may be the Catalyst for Change, was a very provocative approach to letting the majority of the audience know that Sam Cooke said it best when he said “Change is gonna come”. Millennials have a different take on work and truthfully, they have a big crush on work life balance. They talk about it, they breathe it, they live it, and they just want it really bad. Truthfully, they are just too big to ignore anymore. By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce and as of first quarter this year, make up the largest segment of general workers.

Newly minted Millennials leaderbigstock_Portrait_of_young_business_peo_12587012s are also in a really precarious situation — they have to be more flexible, agile, and willing to adjust to change than ever before. They have to lead their peers, lead older generations and even deal with this current climate of pushing for more work life balance. Currently, there is a dichotomy in researching human interactions: the research on the workplace is studied separately from an individual’s personal life or home life. As a result, research has yet to focus on the individual as a whole but often view him/her separately as if he/she is somehow neatly segmented into two different worlds. What Millennials are calling for is a fusion of the two. Life isn’t arbitrarily and artificially segmented, so they believe their work life and personal life shouldn’t be either. When asked in a recent focus group, 90% of Ken Blanchard Millennial employees desired a working life that was more in tune with the realities of life.  Recently, General Electric (GE) announced it will forego PTO and vacation hours and make the vacations unlimited to the majority of its employees. Roughly, 2% of all employers have this option but GE is the largest. This number will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years, as the shift is currently being made to a flexible workplace.

And that’s not even the scary part. The scary part is that, currently, 51% of Millennials are in formal leadership positions and the majority hasn’t received the proper training to become a leader. Organizations are setting up their new up-and-coming millennial leaders for failure! I spoke with a friend of mine in San Diego who mentioned that her VP of Sales left the company and they were replacing him with the top sales rep in the company. When the change was announced, they threw a huge party on Friday and everyone congratulated him for the promotion. On Monday, he submitted his resignation. He realized over the weekend that he didn’t want to do it. In fact, he said he couldn’t do it. He wasn’t trained to become a leader, didn’t know the skill set needed to transition from a high performing individual contributor to now a leader of his peers, and frankly had no desire to do it. He said, “I’m good at selling, that’s what I do; that’s my strength. Why would you think just because I’m good at selling I can become a high performing leader?”  It makes no sense, and employers do it all the time. If you want to keep your young, millennial talent you need to set them up for success by equipping and training them for their next role.

So, I’ve begun to really analyze this question around aspiring leaders to determine the best way to capture how Millennials are transitioning into become leaders in their organization. How do they feel? Do they feel equipped? Are they excited or nervous? If you’d like to contribute to this area of research, you may take this short survey linked here. I will share my findings in a follow up post after the data is analyzed.

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