1. Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™
21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?
By Linda Fisher Thornton
Ethical expectations are continually increasing, and it is not always easy for leaders to keep
up with the changes. This week, I’m sharing an assessment to help you answer the question
“How current is my message about ethics?”
We convey our beliefs about ethical responsibility through leadership development, ethics
training, regular communications and daily actions. The message we send sets the tone for
the ethics of our organizations.
This assessment is based on the holistic 7 Lenses™ framework described in my book 7
Lenses. It will help you identify strengths and areas for improvement in your ethics
message. Notice that the assessment is organized into 7 different perspectives on ethical
responsibility. Each of these 7 Lenses™ is an important part of leading ethically in a global
society, from profiting responsibly to contributing to the greater good of society.
See how many of the 21 items below are already incorporated into your message about
ethics, and check those off. After completing the assessment, add any items you didn’t
check off to your list of goals for this year.
What is My Message About Ethical Responsibility?
Lens 1: Profit
___ I describe profit as the result of doing business ethically
and creating shared value.
___ I talk about ethics just about as often as I talk about
profits to be sure that people know that it is just as
___ I lead open conversations about how to balance ethics and profits, because I know that
at times they will seem to conflict.
Lens 2: Law
___ I make it clear that laws are the minimum standards in society, not the expected levels of
___ I let leaders know that we need to aim higher than laws and regulations, to the ethical
values behind those laws.
___ I talk openly about how we’ll handle situations where something is legal, but may harm
our constituents and is therefore unethical.
2. Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™
Lens 3: Character
___ I go well beyond telling people to “do the right thing” and give them details about what
that means in our organization.
___ I demonstrate ethical competence and expect it from every leader in the organization.
___ I make moral awareness an important part of leader education.
Lens 4: People
___ I don’t tolerate negative interpersonal behaviors (like teasing, blaming and belittling).
___ I ask leaders to demonstrate respect for every person, regardless of differences.
___ I expect leaders to honor the rights and dignity of each person, and they understand
what that looks like (and doesn’t look like) in action.
Lens 5: Communities
___ I make it clear to leaders that community service and involvement are key values in our
___ I offer opportunities for leaders to be actively involved in efforts to support community
___ Our message is that supporting healthy, thriving communities helps everyone, including
Lens 6: Planet
___ I make sure that leaders know that in our organization sustainability is more than a
pamphlet or a report; it is the way we work every day.
___ I let leaders know that life, nature and ecosystems are silent stakeholders that we must
___ Our message is consistent – actions about sustainability and protecting the planet match
Lens 7: Greater Good
___ Leaders know that our organization believes in creating a better world for all.
___ When making decisions, I ask people to think farther ahead than 1-5 years, to consider
the long-term impact of their choices 100 years or more into the future.
___ I help leaders balance short-term gains with long-term responsibilities when they make
How current is your message about ethics?