Archive for the ‘ Managing ’ 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

* * *

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

* * *

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.


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:

Got Ethics Post It 2

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?

If You Were a First Time Manager Again, What Would You Do Differently?

As we grow and learn as human beings we come across things in life which make us wonder how different things could have been if we knew then, what we know now. Working for a leadership company now, I often think about my first time manager role and how I really wasn’t as good of a manager as I could/should have been.  I wasn’t equipped with the right skills that I needed.

I want to share with you my experience about becoming a first time manager, here goes…..

I was 21 years old and worked for a very well known UK bank insurance call center,  I managed a team of 10-15 employees. I had previously worked as part of this team before I went to university and during  my holidays, so the team were my friends. I climbed up the ranks from individual contributor to team lead. When I became a manager of the team, needless to say things changed.  I was still everyone’s friend and I still went out with my close friends on the team Saturday nights, but at work there was a bit of “them versus me.” When people were performing I thought things were great, but when they weren’t being a first time manager was really tough. I remember many a night, going home and crying wondering what I had done to deserve people being so horrible to me, and thinking I never want to be a manager again.

Looking back, I brought some of it on myself. Below are some of the mistakes I made…..

  • I thought I needed to have all of the answers
  • I thought I needed to be authoritative and hard otherwise people wouldn’t respect me
  • I followed all of the rules & guidelines the company set to the T, 100% of the time
  • I never really listened or was open to be persuaded
  • I shied away from conflict, until it blew up in my face
  • The company set the goals which were very day-to-day focused, e.g., call handling times, etc. I never as a manager set any long term goals for my team or development goals, I simply followed the script, mainly because I didn’t know any different.
  • We didn’t celebrate achievements enough.

Knowing what I know now, there are lots of things I would have done differently in my first time manager role. I won’t write them all, because I could be here for days but I’ve noted just a few a below.

  • Breathe – You don’t have to answer everybody’s questions straight away. Take five minutes to reflect and stay calm even when stressed.
  • Listen – Not just for the sake of letting others talk, but really listen to what people are saying. Be open to being persuaded.
  • I wouldn’t have pretended to be something I wasn’t. I am not hard faced and authoritative, quite the opposite. People see through masks, I would have told my truth about who I am, and what I expect from the team.
  • I would have set clear expectations and goals for my team, to help them grow and develop. Worked hard to create growth opportunities for my team.
  • I would have told myself – Don’t take things so personally! I know that’s easier said than done but I used to beat myself up about not being everything to everyone. Remember you are only human.
  • When things weren’t going to plan with the team or team member, I would’ve dealt with the situation there and then and thought about my words very carefully. Asked them about what went wrong, ensure no judgement or blame.
  • Asked for help. Quite often in life, we are ashamed to ask for help. I don’t know why, because everyone in life at some point needs direction and or support.

My experience of being a first time manager, and feeling completely overwhelmed happens all of the time. People are promoted because they are good at what they do, many forget that a manager’s role requires a completely different skill set to that of an individual contributor.

What would you have done differently in your first time manager role?  Or if you haven’t been a manager yet, but looking to become one, what is your greatest concern about being a first time manager?

Sarah-Jane Kenny – EMEA Channel Solutions Consultant at the Ken Blanchard Companies

Leadership as a Lifestyle

Go to any Instagram account, Facebook or social media and you will see a host of lifestyle brands – fashion, makeup, fitness, food, sunglasses, restaurants, coffee shops, shoes – from GQ to the next up and coming photographer or fitness expert. We are attracted to these brands for the messages they portray – fun, motivational, luxury – whatever you have an appetite for.

These brands send a clear message and have a strong theme in common – they are these lifestyles all the time.

Fitness at my gym, to “abs are made in the kitchen”, and wearing workout clothes to the grocery store. These brands say, “I am a 24/7” brand. A few weeks ago, I saw guy on the I-15 south curling a dumbbell while driving – I’m not making that up.

In the same way, your outlook as a leader needs to be just like these lifestyle brands. You need to be a lifestyle leader or what I call a five to eight leader. What many people don’t understand is that true leadership is not just a skill, but a lifestyle. It’s not just something you do “in between the lines” of your 8-5 but how you interact from 5 to 8 as well. A leader in the community, a leader at home, a leader at work….a leader. Leadership as a lifestyle.

Great leaders do not create artificial barriers between time, people, work, community or based on the positions they hold and what they can get in return from the relationship. They are real, honest, authentic, and trustworthy. Here’s one that made me chuckle a little bit. There’s a 2+million viewed  TED Talk about how one develops the necessary skills to sound like a leader. Fifteen minutes of discussing how to best develop a persona that exudes leadership from your stance to vocal intonations. I’m not sure what that means or even how you go about “exuding” a leadership persona.

What we should be doing is spending that time developing a leadership lifestyle full of skills such as listening, sympathy, decision making, and trust. If you are a good leader, you’ll sound like one too.

Be a lifestyle leader.

Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.


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. 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. 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? 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.

Lower Your Standards of Praise

1.  a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection, e.g. “he was a perfectionist who worked slowly”
2.  refusing to accept any standard short of perfection

I am a perfectionist. I mean, I’m not obsessive. The volume on the radio can be odd or even – that doesn’t matter. I do, however, like things to be right, and if I think someone won’t do a very good job, I’d rather just do things myself. I’m the kind of person that will ask their other half to make the bed; and then if the cushions aren’t in the right order, I’ll re-make it.

I’m also practically minded; and I know to be an effective team member, and – more importantly – to be a good leader, I need to overcome my perfectionist tendencies, because in reality not everyone I work with or lead will be able to reach the high standards that I set for myself. Trying to impose my own high standards on the people working with me is likely to frustrate them, and frustrate me. That won’t get us anywhere fast – we’ll be heading downhill in a spiral of “not-quite-right” annoyance. Alternatively, I’ll end up doing it myself, and that’s not an effective use of my time.


I struggled with the concept of letting people ‘get on with it’ a lot, until someone on a training course recently summed this up in one short phrase: “lower your standards of praise”.

Lowering your standards of praise means, instead of only giving people positive feedback when they get things exactly right, you lower the standard of achievement that merits reward to encourage the behavior you want, and then you can work on improving things gradually over time.

Think about when parents bring up children, and they try to teach their toddlers to talk. Of course, if someone wants to ask for a glass of water in adult life, we’d expect to hear “can I have a glass of water, please?”, but a two-year-old isn’t going to go from “mama” and “dada” to asking coherently for a glass of water overnight. Instead, parents start with the basics: “Water”. They’ll repeat the word, and encourage speech, until they get something that closely resembles the result: “Wa-wa”. Close enough! This behavior will be rewarded: the toddler will get the glass of water, and probably plenty of applause and kisses; but they can’t grow up using “wa-wa” every time they’re thirsty, so the development continues, and parents work on changing “wa-wa” to “water”; “water” to “water, please”, and so on.

A blog post on AJATT speaks about lowering our standards in every day life, and learning to appreciate the ‘baby steps’ we take to get to places in life, and then putting that into practice with our more long-term goals. It talks about how you shouldn’t ‘try to arrive at your goal. Just try to go there — and congratulate yourself for it: give yourself credit for only getting it partially right, partially done’. When you appreciate the little achievements, the bigger picture will fall into place.

Ken Blanchard, in his best-selling book, The One Minute Manager, talks about how the manager relies on catching people doing things right – which involves praising people immediately (and not waiting until they’ve achieved the whole); being specific about what they’ve done right – emphasizing how what they did right makes you feel, and how it benefits the organization; and encouraging more of the same.

By lowering your standards of praise, you’re not waiting for people to get all the way to the end of a project, only to be disappointed in the end-result. Instead, you can give positive feedback when they get things partially right, and slowly work your way to the desirable outcome, whilst keeping your relationship frustration-free. It doesn’t mean your end-result is going to be less-than-perfect, but it means that you’re not expecting perfection in the first instance.

%d bloggers like this: