Enduring Principals – Your Personal Code of Conduct 4

What does it say about the World we live in when we question the honesty and integrity of the people in leadership positions – both in government and the clergy? Public trust in our lawyers, teachers, and financial institutions are at an all time low.

Worth Remembering …

“Leaders walk their talk; in true leaders there is no gap between the theories they espouse and their practice” – Warren Bennis

What is ethical or unethical behaviour? Ethics is best described as a set of moral principles or values that defines what is considered right or wrong behaviour for a person or a group. Some people suggest that there is a difference between business ethics and personal ethics. But, to my way of thinking – I believe you’re either ethical or you’re not. There is only one kind of ethics. You either believe in being honest – to act with integrity – to be guided by a strong sense of values and fair play – or not. How can you behave one way at work and then behave a different way at home and still be true to  yourself – still be true to your own personal code of conduct – your own set of enduring principles?

The first course I ever taught at Algonquin College’s School of Business was a “Business Ethics” course developed by one of my hero’s Professor Ron Knowles. Professor Knowles developed the course for first year business students in our SME program (Small, Medium, Enterprises). One of the neat things about that course was I got to work with first year business students to help them develop their own personal code of conduct – their own ethical decision making model that they could use to help them make the right decision when faced with an ethical dilemma. (An ethical dilemma is when you’re confronted with a situation where there is no clear right or wrong answer. No clear right or wrong way to behave.)

Worth Remembering …

“Be more concerned with your character then your reputation. Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is what others think you are.” – Dale Carnegie

What do you hold to be true? What are your enduring principles? What are you not willing to compromise – no matter the situation – no matter the personal price you’ll have to pay?What series of questions do you ask yourself to solve your ethical dilemmas? If you where to sit down and script your personal code of conduct what kinds of things would you include? Do you believe in honestly? Acting with integrity? Do you believe in treating people fairly, consistently and with respect?

I’ve been put into positions in the past where I had to compromise my own set of values. I’ve done some things that in hindsight I should have handled differently because I ended up not being true to myself. What I did was not illegal but, it still bothers me to this day. And because I’m still bothered by it – I know it was the wrong thing to do. I should have acted differently no matter the cost. When we behave in ways that conflict with our own judgment of what is right, we lose face in ourselves. You may not always make the right decision – regardless of what ethical decision-making model you use. But you will make a decision that you can live with no matter the outcome because you where true to yourself.

Worth Remembering …

“The depths and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves.” – Leon Trotsky

The Josephson Institute of Ethics, a non-profit training and consulting organization based in Los Angeles California advocates principled decision-making based on six common values they call “The Six Pillars of Character”. The Institute contends that these six pillars are the basis of ethically defensible decisions and the foundation of well-lived lives.

  1. Trustworthiness: Honesty, integrity, reliability and loyalty
  2. Respect: Civility, courtesy, tolerance, acceptance
  3. Responsibility: Accountability, pursuit of excellence, self-restraint
  4. Fairness: Process, impartiality, equity
  5. Caring: Empathy, compassion, a sense of duty
  6. Good Citizenship: A sense of fair play, giving back, giving a hand up.

What we say to ourselves and our actions must be congruent. The words and our behaviour must match. There are people whom we trust and those we do not. And if we ask ourselves the reason why – most likely it’s because we trust congruency and are suspicious of incongruence. Results of a Society for Human Resources Management survey found that only 27% of the employees feel that their organizations leadership was ethical. At the end of the day – you have to be true to yourself. The bottom line is – If you have to ask yourself if you acted ethically or not? – you already know the answer. 

Move Over Gents – It’s The Ladies Turn To Lead

In the words of Bob Dylan – “The times they are a changing” – And I for one – applaud it. Frankly it’s about time. I’m pleased to see that more and more women are now taking back their right to choose; the right to choose when and if they want children – without feeling guilty if they choose not to have children at all. I’m pleased to see that more and more women are now taking back their right to choose when and if they want a career outside of the traditional family model. (Try managing the family home on your own and then tell me that’s not work.)

It’s great to see that more and more women are now managing and leading Fortune 500 Companies. That more and more women are now starting their own small businesses. Matter of fact they are out pacing men in that category. They’ve taken the management skills they developed managing the family home and are now applying them in the business world. According to research conducted by The Centre for Women’s Business – 10.1 Million firms are owned by women – employing more than 13 Million people. One in five of all firms generating 1 Million dollars or more in sales are owned by women. The total number of sales generated by firms owned by women topped 1.1 Trillion dollars in 2008. (These are American numbers but women are outpacing men in starting small businesses in Canada as well)

Dee Dee Myers – Author of “Why Women Should Rule The World” believes that women are more successful at running small businesses because women can make people accountable for their actions, but, they can also be there to support them. “Females have that trait, where maybe most males do not” – The trait that Myers is talking about it empathy – The ability to see things from another persons point of view. As Myers suggests – women come by it naturally – men on the other hand have to work at it.  If your success as a manager is predicated on your ability to build relationships and develop collaborative teams then what better skill is there to have then empathy? After all think of a job that you could have in your life time that didn’t involve communicating and interacting effectively with people. (There isn’t any)

Research conducted by Distinguished Professor Julia T. Wood – Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina and Deborah Frances Tannen – Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University may also explain why women have made tremendous inroads into a territory once considered a “man’s” domain.

Wood’s and Tannen’s research produced the following theories:

  • Men and women have different ways of showing support, interests and caring. .
  • Women tend to see communication as a way to connect and enhance a sense of closeness in a relationship. Men see communication as a way to accomplish objectives.
  • Men emphasize independence and are less likely to ask for help in accomplishing an objective. Where as women seek out and welcome relationships.
  • Women are inclined to express agreement and support, while men are more inclined to debate.
  • Women are more inclined to face each other and make eye contact when talking while men are more likely to look away.
  • Men tend to jump from topic to topic but women tend to talk at length on one topic at a time.

A very dear and close personal friend of mine likes to remind me now and again that she doesn’t need a man in her life to “complete” her. She’s capable enough to do that all on her own. After all she’s been operating her own very successful small business now for over 30 years. She knows who she is. She’s not afraid to speak up and ask for what she wants. That’s one of the many qualities I love and admire about her.

Mary Matalin, former counselor to President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney was quoted as saying – “Women around the world are rewriting history at a ferocious pace with or without mans permission”. After all – it’s easy to argue that men haven’t been doing such a great job of managing things lately.

The glass ceiling is still there. The key to breaking through that barrier in today’s world has more to do with your ability to get along with people. And in today’s world women seem to be better equipped to do that.


Is Your Cup Half-Full or Half-Empty 1

Sir Winston Churchill once said “For myself – I am an optimist. It does not seem to be much use being anything else.” Do you walk around thinking that your cup is half-full or half-empty? I choose to see my cup as half-full. I choose to see the positives in everything that happens to me and around me – because I believe that everything in life is a learning opportunity. Even the negative things that happen to you, and trust me there will be plenty of them, are really positives if you choose to look at them from a different point of view. (It also helps if you believe in fate) I believe everything that happens to you in life – happens for a reason.  Whatever happens today is preparing you for what is going to happen tomorrow.

Worth Remembering … “The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn” – Amanda Curtis Kane

I believe I am without a doubt the most optimistic person you will ever meet. But besides being an eternal optimist I’m also a realist. (I do have my Dr. Phil moments of clarity) I know that I can’t control everything that goes on around me. I know most outcomes are out of my hands. But I do know that I can control how I choose to react in any given situation. I know that in that space between stimulus and response that Dr. Covey talks about – and what Dr. Viktor Frankl knows to be true from his own experiences – that I must react in a way that is going to get me what I want.

Worth Remembering … “Everything can be taken away from man but one thing – to choose – ones attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” – Frankl

Viktor Frankl was born into a Jewish Family and ended up being shipped to a German Nazi Concentration Camp along with his wife, mother and father during the Second World War. He lost his wife to the camp at Bergen-Belsen, his father to the camp at Theresienstadt  and his mother to Auschwitz. Viktor considered himself one of the lucky ones who managed to survive the camps. Viktor understood the power to choose. Viktor understood that no one else but he could decide how he wanted to react to any given situation.

Viktor believed that the most powerful motivating and driving force in one’s life is the quest to find meaning in one’s life. He believed that it is that search for meaning which motivates us to carry on. And in some cases to endure tremendous hardships with the thought that there must be a better future waiting for us. Viktor believed that although the Nazi’s had taken away all that was dear to him – his prized manuscripts, his wife, his loving parents and friends – they could not take away his ability to choose.

Worth Remembering … “When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound; rebuild those plans and set sail once more toward your goal” – Hill

Everything you do – is a matter of choice. You may not like the choices that you have to pick from – but it is a choice. You can choose to do nothing – and see what happens – or you can choose to do something and hopefully end up with what you want. Like Viktor – we all have choices. If you change the way you look at things – the things you look at will change. It’s a matter of choice.

You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks 3

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it. The trick is, find out how to make him thirsty. Team leaders, supervisors and managers will be judged not by what they know, but by their ability to teach someone else. But trust me – teaching someone else what you know isn’t easy. If that was the case, superstar athletes would go on to have superstar coaching careers after their playing days were over. And we know, in most cases – that just doesn’t happen.

Answer this question: If you understood how I like to receive and process information and how I prefer to be taught, and if you applied what you knew about my learning preferences, would it make the teaching experience more enjoyable for you and for me? Would I be more receptive to what you were saying and therefore more likely to try? We both know the answer would probably be a resounding yes! Some Adults learn differently – therefore you need more than one teaching style.

Adults Can Learn New Things

Adults can learn new things – given the right set of circumstances in an environment that is conducive to learning. Think of ways that you could apply these five principles of adult learning to create a positive learning experience.

  1. Adults learn when they understand why something is important to know or to do. Make sure everyone understands the “why” in what you are trying to teach them. They may not agree, but they need to know your reasoning. And it can’t be just because you said so. You are working with adults here – not children. (Although, I don’t think saying “because I told you so” works with children anymore either. At least not in my world)
  2. Adults learn when they have the freedom to learn in their own way. Try and incorporate all of the senses in your approach to ensure learning has taken place. Remember that visual learners rely on pictures, auditory learners listen to what is being said, and kinesthetic learners need to  physically do something to fully understand what it is you are trying to teach them.
  3. Learning is experiential. Adults like to relate or link new knowledge to past experiences. Any activity that gets your learner involved makes that learning experiential. Group discussions, role-playing, building something – any activity at all will work. Activities are also a great way to keep people energized and engaged, especially activities that involve getting up and moving around.
  4. The time is right for them to learn. There is an old Buddhist saying: “When the Student is ready, the Teacher will appear”. Adults like to learn in their own time. And what they learn must be relevant and applicable. Adults, for the most part, only want to know what they need to know and only when they need to know it. They aren’t looking to stockpile information on the chance that they might need it in the future. (Unless they are a huge fan of Trivial Pursuit.)
  5. The process is positive and encouraging. As a teacher you are trying to get people to step out of their comfort zone into the growth zone. Be very mindful of the fact that they are most likely trying something for the very first time. They are going to make mistakes.They need to know that you aren’t going to zap them when they do. They need to know that they can trust you, that you won’t belittle them in front of their peers. And they need to know that they can ask you a question – no matter how trivial you might think it is – and you’ll answer it without sarcasm. Teachers need to have patience in spades because some people learn quicker than others.

Be their biggest fan. Cheer them on with each small victory by praising their performance and giving them words of encouragement. If you truly want them to be successful, and I don’t know why you wouldn’t – then your praise and words of encouragement will sound sincere. Adults can tell when you’re being condescending and insincere. They don’t like to be patronized. 

Worth Remembering …  “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I will learn.” – Benjamin Franklin