Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Everything we teach here at The I in Team series helps current and aspiring leaders understand what it means to possess positive and ethical leadership qualities. Being an ethical leader has an immense influence on your team; it can be the difference between building a high performing team and going out of business.
Being present and available is one of the key qualities of ethical leadership. This means your physical presence is necessary. Absent leaders (leaders who do not show up to work, are late for work, or who do not engage with their employees) are considered unethical leaders. The foundation of leadership is being present to lead your team. For those who are leading a remote team, being active and checking on your team frequently will show your presence. If you’re leading a remote team, try to communicate with them often as you would in a traditional office.
Communication is often the hardest aspect of leadership, but it is vital to building a high performing team that rallies with you to meet organizational objectives. How you communicate your thoughts and emotions will determine the communication culture of your entire organization. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but it does mean that you need to work to communicate effectively with yourself and others. Ethical leaders are not ones who are perfect; they are ones who know they can grow, learn, and adapt.
Having a growth mindset means that you believe you and others are capable of growth, as opposed to a fixed mindset where you would believe that you and others are stagnant and unadapting. When you adopt a growth mindset, you believe in and empower yourself and your team members. This makes an ethical leader because they know their team possesses the skills necessary to complete organizational objectives, as well as one who understands that failure is inevitable. Coming to terms with the fact that failure will happen is imperative to being an ethical leader because you and your team will fail but it’s how you move on from those failures that defines your organizational culture. Having a growth mindset combined with a heavy dose of objectivity will allow you to remain ethical when helping your team recover and learn from failure.
Objectivity is required to be an ethical leader, especially when you are dealing with multiple people who have diverse lives. If you are not naturally objective, it will take some practice and patience with yourself as you learn this new skill, but it is imperative to gain the ability to be objective so that you can make equitable decisions. Being objective means overcoming bias and bigotry; it means slowing down, remaining present, and growing your ability to be emotionally intelligent so that you can respond to situations appropriately. Leaders who are objective are ethical because they create a culture of accountability and compassion.
Compassion is a necessary trait in life; it is the understanding that everyone deals with difficult situations combined with the wish to alleviate the negative consequences of those situations. While we can’t help everyone, we can have compassion for them. Having compassion for yourself and your team allows you to communicate with them effectively and objectively, knowing that they are a human being with wants, desires, and motivations just like you. Compassion builds an ethical leader because it allows you to treat your team with respect. In combination with all the ethical leadership qualities listed here, any compassionate leader can compel their team to reach even seemingly impossible goals.
While this list is certainly not exhaustive of what it takes to be a positive and ethical leader, they are some of our top five ethical leadership qualities. In contrast, unethical leaders are ones who are absent, dishonest, corrupt, unfair, manipulative, and more. Unethical leaders can deteriorate teams and cause high employee turnover, low engagement, low creativity, and more. The negative effects of unethical leadership can severely impact an organization’s ability to grow and be successful. If you wish to create a company that thrives, you must be an ethical leader.
Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Brian and I were recently in Hawaii with our new publisher (Made for Success) drafting the content for our third book when we had an interesting discussion centered around what it means to understand that the world is “gray.” This “gray” world is rooted in objectivity and pragmatism, as well as the understanding that for everything that exists, the opposite also exists. It became a discussion about the puzzle of perception, how we each perceive the world in vastly different, and perhaps even opposing, ways. While there is no definitive answer to the question, “Who is right and who is wrong?” we are going to attempt to tackle this puzzle so that you can begin to ponder what it means to be objective while remaining confident in your perception.
Four Sides to Every Story
Our discussion started with the idea that there are four sides to every story: 1) Yours 2) the other person’s 3) the perception of anyone you tell this story to 4) the truth. The fourth side is the side that caused much debate because “the truth” is nearly impossible to know. Every bit of information that we take in becomes tainted by the lenses through which we see the world (our perception). When we describe our experience, our communication is filtered through these same lenses, which is, again, filtered by new lenses of the person listening to us. We each form our own “truths” based on how we perceive and interact with the world. However, that doesn’t mean that our perception is the “true” perception; there is no way to say what is the “truth” because our mind warps reality to fit with our perception.
Does that mean we are all liars? No, it just means that we need to remain mindful that others may perceive the same situation differently based on their unique lenses. Does this mean that we can’t root ourselves in our own “truths?” No, we can still choose what we anchor ourselves to (our values) and strive to remain consistent in our beliefs through self-reflection and logical reasoning. However, this also means that we need to understand that whatever values we choose to root ourselves in, there are people who will directly oppose us. This is hard to wrap your head around because your mind wants you to believe that your way of perceiving the world is the only way…the correct way.
If you’re interested in reading more about the four sides to every story, click the link to read our blog on IA Business Advisors.
What is Truth?
If we cannot ever be sure of what is true, how do we know what the truth is? Unfortunately, we don’t. The truth we come to terms with in our mind is based on a variety of factors, including trusting others, how well we know ourselves, and our perception. We must put our faith and trust in others that they will tell us their perception truthfully, but we must also understand that their perception is tainted by their personal worldviews. This allows us to remain objective and listen with the intent of learning more about the speaker. Does that mean what you are hearing is wrong? You will have to decide for yourself based on what you know about the person and how much faith you have in their ability to communicate with you honestly.
When deciphering what you will believe to be true, you need to know yourself and understand the lenses that influence your perception. This will be a little difficult as we all have lenses that taint our view that we might not be aware of: bias. Nonetheless, the more you know yourself, the easier it will be to understand how you interpret information. And while it might seem that this writing is trying to confuse you, we only mean to help you understand that there are opposing views anywhere you look and that you must remain mindful of this fact by understanding the nuances of “truth.”
Good vs Bad
This section is going to be quite philosophical and possibly triggering, so I will do my best to explain linearly to aid in supporting the claim that we cannot know the only “truth.” The idea of good and bad is completely subjective, meaning, what one sees as bad another may see as good and vice versa. I’ll use a personal example to help describe what I mean by this. I am vegan and personally believe it is wrong (bad) to kill life; I see doing everything we can to prevent killing life as good, hence why I am vegan. In opposition to me are those who may enjoy hunting, fishing, and eating meat; they do not see taking a life that doesn’t belong to them as wrong. So, who is right? Neither of us because we each root in our own values and perceptions of the world. Both ideas exist on the same plane.
Let’s take the example to the extreme and discuss killing humans. Is it okay to kill humans? I would say no because that is my belief. However, what if we could sacrifice one human to save many, would that make killing okay? Say, for example, if Adolf Hitler had been murdered before taking reign of Germany, his death would have saved six million people (at least). Does that make killing Adolf Hitler (before knowing how truly devastating he was for our world) okay? Is it right to save the many for the few? Additionally, there are laws in place meant to deter us from killing our fellow person. However, we still have war. We still have mass shootings. We still have people on death row, some of who are completely innocent. I cannot say for you where the good and bad is rooted in these scenarios because I can only describe how I see the world from my perception, but I challenge you to remain objective and try to come outside yourself to understand the world from new, often conflicting, ways.
If you made it to the conclusion, you probably feel a bit confused and overwhelmed. That’s okay and completely normal. I’m trying to explain concepts that are hard to grasp, hence why our discussion centered around the “gray.” My goal with this writing is to challenge your ego to help you understand that there is more than one way to see the world, and just because you feel you are right doesn’t mean that you are. In the pursuit of growing in your positive influence, challenge yourself to be objective while holding compassion for those who oppose your way of being, thinking, and living. We all exist on this planet together, so the least we can do is be understanding of the diversity of life. In fact, it should be celebrated. Without your opposite, you wouldn’t be able to define yourself; light cannot exist without the dark.
Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. For some time, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be patient in an ever-changing world and how our privilege with access to technology can make us feel more impatient as we begin to demand more to feel gratified. While the tools we use can be great for helping us be more productive, I wonder if they also make us believe that things can happen quickly regardless of if you’re using technology or not. Patience is a virtue as impatience can lead to poor judgment, irrational behavior and decision making, and having a pessimistic view of the world and others. If you feel your patience waning, you can work to give yourself peace.
What is Patience?
Patience, in the most basic terms, is the ability to endure without succumbing to negative emotion or intent. This looks different for everyone because what one may find difficult to endure, another may thrive. Nonetheless, patience is when you (from your perspective) can wait without becoming annoyed, stressed, or angry. While some may feel that patience is automatic, it is not. You control your patience through your thoughts and what you choose to become attached to. You can certainly grow your ability to be patient.
One of the best ways to grow your patience for others or situations is to consider other perspectives. For example, when you begin to grow impatient because your partner is running late for dinner, or the line at the grocery store isn’t moving, try to step outside of your perspective and consider the moment from another perspective. Your partner may be late because their car broke down or they had to wait for their manager to sign off on something. The line at the store may be long because there is a new cashier training and they didn’t expect the store to be so busy. When you can reframe your experience and consider other possibilities, it’s easy to feel patient for things that you can’t control. This comes with a little emotional intelligence, empathy, and compassion.
Two other great methods to practice growing patience are to be mindful and show gratitude. Practicing mindfulness can aid in your ability to see other perspectives, but it can also make you less impulsive as you become more aware of your mind in the present moment rather than allowing a negative emotion, like anger, sweep you into feeling impatient. If you identify impatience setting in, take a few long, deep breaths to calm your nervous system. Additionally, you can practice distracting your mind by showing gratitude. Instead of focusing on what is going wrong and irritating you, focus on what is going or has gone right and feel thankful.
Your Health and Patience
Cultivating patience comes with a variety of health benefits, some are long-term while others can be felt immediately. Those who are patient usually experience better mental health. This makes sense because feelings of anger, resentment, or annoyance often accompany impatience. Aside from many of these negative emotions increasing your blood pressure and cortisol levels (stress hormone), experiencing these negative emotions that often come with impatience can disrupt your mood for days, weeks, or even longer depending on how often you become impatient or ruminate on that experience.
Other research has found that impatience can lead to a number of not-so-fun bodily symptoms, including but not limited to: acne, headaches, and ulcers. This is because impatience, as mentioned, usually creates cortisol which can lead to these symptoms, prevent a good night’s sleep, and weaken the immune system. This becomes a vicious cycle as those who are dealing with cortisol, lacking sleep, or feeling sick are more likely to be less patient (and who can blame them!). It’s not fun to not feel good or to feel stressed out, but that’s what makes it more important to work to get ahead of the curve before it gets to a point where you are burnt out and have difficulty cultivating patience.
As with all habit building, the goal is not to be perfect right away but to make incremental steps to being and feeling better. If you are regularly impatient, consider where you are impatient the most and start practicing there. Many people have road rage and become impatient while driving, and this is a great place to practice seeing from another perspective. Slow down, breathe, be mindful, and remain present to cultivate patience. Your body and mind will thank you.
Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Many of us have heard the theory that if a butterfly flaps its wings at just the right time and location, it can cause a hurricane on the opposite side of the world. This theory is known as the butterfly effect and it stems from chaos theory. The butterfly effect is a complex idea that when explained in simple terms may sound like this: everything, no matter how small or large, has the potential to influence actions that are seemingly unrelated.
In more complex terms, Jamie L. Vernon writes, “some complex dynamical systems exhibit unpredictable behaviors such that small variances in the initial conditions could have profound and widely divergent effects on the system’s outcomes. Because of the sensitivity of these systems, outcomes are unpredictable.” (And if you’re interested in learning more about chaos theory in an easily digestible way, check out Fractal Foundation.) As you may surmise, the butterfly effect is much like our individual influence, and this blog will help you understand the power of your influence.
The Influence Ripple
Much like a butterfly flapping its wings and influencing the weather, your thoughts, words, and actions influence all who are around to witness those things. You influence yourself through internal self-talk, whether you align your words with your actions, and more. You influence others by interacting with them, and these interactions (influence) cause ripples that you may or may not be aware of. For example, if you hold the door open for someone, it may seem insignificant to you because you were already there, but you don’t know how the person you held the door for perceived that action. They could be having a terrible day and that small act of kindness influenced them for the better. Conversely, if you yell at someone, you never know how that person will shape their perception of you or how they may handle your negativity. It’s possible, in both scenarios, that those people could go off to spread their own positive or negative influence from your positive or negative actions. This ripple that you don’t even see is what makes your influence matter.
You matter because your influence matters. You are the rock that causes ripples in the pond after it is thrown. The butterfly effect says that one small act can influence a major event just as your thoughts, words, and actions influence other thoughts, words, and actions in ways you could never fathom. You will never understand how you influence someone because you are not them, but you matter because you do influence them. And when you influence someone, their influence impacts others (which you become a small part of). Some say that we are all about six degrees from everyone in this world, meaning we are each six people away from knowing everyone. That means all our influences are connected to one another, and it’s through our influence that we create positivity or negativity. When you understand that you matter, which path will you choose?
Being more aware of your influence and how your influence relates to the butterfly effect allows you to live life more consciously. Consider how your influence ripples out from you to alter the influence of others, does that change how you behave? Or, consider how you speak to yourself and the perception you choose to see of the world, does that change how you think? When you start pondering your influence, be sure to employ some empathy and compassion for yourself. We are all human, so we all make mistakes.
If a butterfly flaps its wings and can cause a hurricane, imagine what your small acts of influence can do. Imagine what kind of impact you can have when you give someone experiencing homelessness a few dollars, or when you allow someone to merge into traffic easily when the highway is backed up. Think about the last thing that positively or negatively influenced you. How are your thoughts, words, and actions influenced by others?
Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Welcome to another new year; another chance to renew yourself, grow, and spread your unique influence. Some may feel it is cheesy, but the new year represents rebirth for us all. A new page for us to write in our books of life. Many feel motivated by this fresh beginning to set goals, resolutions, words, or whatever else to develop themselves and improve their lives. I am personally of the opinion that you can do this year-round, but the new year usually motivates the masses towards bettering themselves.
We at The I in Team series want to challenge you; set one goal for this year that encourages you to grow. Your goal can be as simple as an intention through a word to something more complex and robust. This year, The I in Team series’ “word” is influence; this word will guide all of our other goals and subsequently our actions. In every moment when you are reaching for your goals, you are both your number one supporter and worst enemy. Only you can control the willpower needed to reach your goals; will you choose to stick it out or give up on yourself? Please join me in bettering yourself this year so that everything you influence will benefit from the best version of you. Below are our top tips for achieving a successful new year’s resolution (or intention/word/whatever you like).
Related Blog: How to Build Healthy Habits
Any goal or intention must go through the S.M.A.R.T. process. This is because all goals and intentions are more easily reached when they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. One of the best things about laying out all your goals in this process is that it makes it super easy to review what may or may not be working down the road. A few weeks into achieving your goal, you may find that your goal isn’t as specific as you need it to be, or you may find that the measurable actions you set for yourself are not attainable within the defined time frame. Last year when we wrote our new year blog post, we centered it around this S.M.A.R.T. goal development process. Check it out to discover some questions you can ask yourself in each part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal development process.
It’s easy to give up on your goals because it doesn’t take any effort to stop doing or reaching for something. When you start feeling burnt out, slow down but don’t give up. Slowing down will allow you to reevaluate your S.M.A.R.T. process and determine if you need to update your goal. Remember, your goal grows with you! Don’t be afraid to reexamine it and change the way you approach reaching the goal. As long as you stick to your original intention or end goal, the way you get there doesn’t really matter. The point of setting goals or intentions is to grow and become better in yourself and your unique influence. If the goal becomes too much or too draining, evolve it to be something you can work with. Slowing down will allow you to reevaluate with ease, give you some breathing room, and hopefully restore your willpower.
Believe in Yourself
If you don’t believe in yourself, you become your own worst enemy. End the self-criticism and negative self-talk; uplift yourself by believing you can reach your goals, develop yourself, and grow in your positive influence. This is known as having a growth mindset, and you need a growth mindset to reach any goal or intention you set for yourself. Believing in yourself can sometimes be compromised when you experience burnout or have willpower depletion. So, if you feel these negatives start to creep into all the progress you’ve made, slow down and consider some things that can give you energy. For some, that may be making a cup of tea or watching your favorite movie; for others, it might be going on a hike or inviting guests over for dinner. Whatever it is that gives you power and restores your energy, write those things down, keep them close, and perform them when you need to so you can stay on track for reaching your goals.
Whatever it is you choose to work on this year, we challenge you to choose at least one thing. Life is about growth and development; if you aren’t taking these moments to learn more about yourself and the world, then what are you spending your time on? You deserve to find yourself in this life, be the best version of yourself that you can be, and build your positive influence so that those around you can benefit from all that makes you uniquely glorious. Make your goals (or intentions/words) S.M.A.R.T., slow yourself down to regain your willpower, and believe in yourself. We certainly believe in you.