Monday, March 1, 2021

Leadership Secret: Be "Other-Centered"

Over the last decade, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege of meeting a variety of inspiring leadership experts. One of these experts is Linda Fisher Thornton, the CEO of Leading in Context LLC, in Richmond, Virginia. We recently had a discussion about leadership, and highlights follow below Linda’s bio.

Linda has been in the leadership field for 25 years and can be found online at and on Twitter @leadingincontxt. She has a passion for ethical leadership and her book, 7 Lenses (in its second printing), introduces a practical 7-Lens model and 14 Guiding Principles for learning ethical leadership. She teaches global leadership and applied ethics as an adjunct associate professor for the University of Richmond.

QUESTION: Since the Covid-19 pandemic began a year ago, how has it impacted the role of leadership?
LINDA FISHER THORNTON: The most obvious leadership challenge during the pandemic has been managing the risks to customer and employee health and safety, but leaders must also deal with the psychological impact of working remotely, and the medical and financial challenges employees are experiencing.

Organizations with good leadership and positive cultures will be ready to navigate these pandemic challenges with a high degree of concern for people’s mental and physical well-being. Because health and safety are so important and so much is at stake, organizations without positive cultures will likely need to move toward creating a caring culture during the pandemic if they want to stay in business.

QUESTION: What book should every leader read, and why?
LINDA FISHER THORNTON: My recommendation would be my book: 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership.

Many leaders seek a more meaningful kind of leadership than what they see in the news. I feel the need to share this book even though I wrote it, because it offers practical guidance for leaders on how to apply ethically aware thinking and leadership. It includes seven lenses for ethical decision making and a four-quadrant model of leadership with the ethical values built in.

QUESTION: What are some key elements that a leadership team can do to create and maintain a positive corporate culture?
LINDA FISHER THORNTON: Leading with values is the way to create a positive culture, and it needs to be consistent. Leaders need to find out what employees need and find ways to meet those needs; demonstrate respect and care in all interactions; and talk about, guide, and support ethical decision-making.

SHARE ON TWITTER: Leaders need to find out what employees need and find ways to meet those needs.  –@leadingincontxt #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding

QUESTION: What are the best ways to motivate employees?
LINDA FISHER THORNTON: What motivates people best? It’s the trust we build with them. It’s how we show respect and care for them. It’s the relational investments we make in them.

What people want most is for leaders to build a positive human relationship with them. To listen to them. To include them. To find out what their aspirations are and help them reach their potential. To recognize their talents and nurture them. To use their suggestions and give them credit.

QUESTION: How can a President/CEO become an organization's number one brand ambassador?
LINDA FISHER THORNTON: Job seekers and prospective customers often check out an organization’s reputation so that they know who they’re dealing with. They want to see the CEO living out the stated values and consistently making responsible decisions. Ethical CEOs invest time in building trust, transparency, and positive relationships – which translates into great customer and employee experiences all the way down the line.

QUESTION: One of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others." What does this quote mean to you?
LINDA FISHER THORNTON: I love it! This quote drives home the point that leaders need to be “other-centered,” focusing their time and attention on how to make others smarter, better, and more successful. That requires setting aside ego and embracing the true role of leadership, which is about nurturing the success of others. It also means accepting that some of the roadblocks to employee success we uncover may be of our own creation.

Leaders should consider and ask team members to respond to these questions: What am I not noticing that you think is important? What are the biggest challenges that are getting in the way of your success? What am I doing that is making it harder for you to do your job? Leadership doesn’t require power moves. It requires humility, service, and vision. Authentic leaders see the possibilities in people and teams and find ways to help them bring those possibilities to life.

SHARE ON TWITTER: Leadership doesn’t require power moves. It requires humility, service, and vision. –@leadingincontxt #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding

My gratitude and appreciation to Linda for appearing on my Blog and for sharing her leadership insights!

About the book referenced in Question #2:

Tools for readers of the book referenced in Question #2:

Image Credit: GR Stocks via Unsplash app.

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