Ethical Leadership

I was recently asked to share a view on the intersection of morals, ethics and values. After much consideration and research, I came up with a framework that has helped me understand what’s required for ethical leadership.

You see, our morals or beliefs about what’s right or wrong are based on societal or cultural influences, religious teaching, and/or parental guidance. These beliefs provide our moral foundation and are difficult to change. They become hardwired like our DNA. Because I was raised in a southern Baptist household in the Bible-belt of the USA, most of my beliefs are based on scripture. When I have a question about what’s right or wrong, I go to the Bible as my source of truth. Others may rely on a different source of truth but most major religions have very similar tenants about integrity, love and concern for humanity.

Our values are the few prioritized beliefs that drive our behavior. Most of us have a few moral truths that take precedent over all other beliefs and evoke strong emotions when violated. For instance, if integrity is a personal value, you will likely be angry when lied to. If family is a personal value, you might go into debt if a relative is in need or become anxious if you haven’t talked to a sibling in a while. Alignment of personal values between individuals is how strong relationships are established. Alignment between personal values and corporate values, is how strong organizational cultures are created. Yet there is a difference between espoused values and lived values. Personal integrity is when our decisions or choices are aligned with our beliefs and values.

Ethics is related to this decision making process regarding what’s right or wrong. When we are living our truth, I believe, we are happier and more productive. However, because everyone’s moral compass is different, we are sometimes faced with ethical dilemmas. These are situations where there is no clear right or wrong based on our beliefs of the decision for the greater good conflicts with our personal beliefs.

Leaders are responsible for making decisions that affect others. They must choose the direction which will create a better future for all stakeholders. This means providing an ethical compass within organizations. There will be tough choices and ethical dilemmas. Others may disagree on what’s right. That’s okay; that’s leadership. Ethical leadership requires knowing your values and living your truth.

A Leader of No Reputation

“Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 (NLT)

Yes, you are amazing! My sister, you are regal and your confidence comes from knowing whose you are not who you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are a black woman in a white man’s world having the audacity to think of herself as a leader! Let me remind you that Jesus “made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7). How far can you climb before they recognize your strength and your grace under pressure and feel threatened? What approach will they use to put you in your place? It matters not what they think or what they do. We serve a higher power. We have on the whole armor of God and praise is our battle cry. We know with certainty that we were made in the image of our creator and that there is a purpose for our existence. So go on with your bad self! Speak boldly into the darkness. Shine the light on evil. You were made to rule and have dominion over this earth. Not as an owner who seeks to dominate, but as a steward who knows that the earth is the Lord’s and all the fullness of it. We nurture it as a mother nurtures her child with no need for praise or even acknowledgment. If they never say thank you. If they never recognize the love that spills over from your cup. If they never give you a title or even call you by name. If they never acknowledge your glorious beauty. God sees you! He sees you and he loves you dearly.

Written by Valeria Edmonds 20 September 2018

7 Habits to Disengage Your Team

Ever wondered if there was a class that some leaders took on how to be a bad boss? Well, here is my list of seven habits that can totally disengage the people that work for you:

1. Make everything urgent. Nothing irks people more than a supervisor who lacks the ability to prioritize. When every assignment is rushed and last minute, it’s clear that there was no planning. Occasionally, this can be overlooked but when it becomes routine you simply lose credibility as a leader.

2. Underutilize skills and talents within the team. No one wants to be overworked and underpaid. However, being underutilized is just as frustrating. Wasted talent is bad for the organization and bad for moral. If you don’t know the strengths of each person on your team, it’s time to learn and leverage them.

3. Assign the same task to multiple people to see who does it best. Your employees deserve respect and wasting their time will not win you friends or help you to influence people. This tactic may have given you options to choose from or guaranteed at least one result but when an employee knows that you are wasting their time, they will eventually stop making any effort.

4. Take credit for the work of others when its recognized as good. When your employees do well, it’s a reflection on you anyway. If you’re going to take credit for the good stuff, you better be ready to take the blame when things go wrong too. Every one has an ego and a good boss is one who develops and recognizes the contributions of their team.

5. Assign as many tasks as possible and hope that someone will need what your teams produces. There should be no shortage of real work with the lean organizations that we have now. That’s why creating work unnecessarily is just another way to waste someone’s time. Even inexperienced employees learn best by having real work to do.

6. Be vague and general in your guidance so employees can guess what you want. We used to call this the “bring me a rock” approach because more likely than not you will bring the wrong rock. Instead, think through the purpose of each task and why it’s important to the overall objectives of the team before delegating. This will help employees understand the bigger picture and build commitment.

7. Spend as much time as possible away from the office so your team can learn to be self-directed. The absentee boss is delightful. Maybe it’s a sign of trust that the team is capable to get things done. However, what does that say about the value of the leaders position. If a member of your team hasn’t had a one-on-one with you in the last month, you can bet their priorities are different from yours.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen each of these habits impact the effectiveness of a team and have a very negative impact on employee engagement. I’m hoping that by sharing this from an employee perspective, it will help those who want to be effective team leaders. If you recognize habits of your own, just no that it is never too late to learn new ones.

She is a Leader of No Reputation

“Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 (NLT)

Yes, you are amazing! My sister, you are regal and your confidence comes from knowing whose you are not who you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are a black woman in a white man’s world having the audacity to think of herself as a leader! Let me remind you that Jesus “made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7). How far can you climb before they recognize your strength and your grace under pressure and feel threatened? What approach will they use to put you in your place?

It matters not what they think or what they do. We serve a higher power. We have on the whole armor of God and praise is our battle cry. We know with certainty that we were made in the image of our creator and that there is a purpose for our existence. So go on with your bad self! Speak boldly into the darkness. Shine the light on evil. You were made to rule and have dominion over this earth. Not as an owner who seeks to dominate, but as a steward who knows that the earth is the Lord’s and all the fullness of it. We nurture it as a mother nurtures her child with no need for praise or even acknowledgment.

If they never say thank you. If they never recognize the love that spills over from your cup. If they never give you a title or even call you by name. If they never acknowledge your glorious beauty. God sees you! He sees you and he loves you dearly.

Written by Valeria Edmonds 20 September 2018

Leadership Spotlight on Leon L. Rogers II

Leon RogersMasterful You reflects a person who is living their values and operating out of a strong sense of personal accountability and integrity. Leadership comes in many forms but regardless of the type, there is a presence about a good leader that resonates with others and commands respect. Presence is the outward expression of personal integrity and alignment of who you are at your core. Today, we shine the spotlight on Battalion Commander Leon Rogers who serves in the U.S. Army’s 408th CSB, Regional Contracting Center in Qatar.  The military is known for grooming leaders, but this is what Leon had to say about leadership from his own experience and values:

  1. What defines leadership for you? For me, leadership is defined by four elements: people, character, endeavor, and communication.

People:                  take care of your people and build alliances.

Character:             be impeccable with your word and never act out of vengeance                                  or spite.

Endeavor:              be decisive and results-oriented.

Communication:   Influence through conversation have a vision and continually                                     reaffirm it.

  1. How would you describe your leadership style?   Charismatic. (Authors note: Charismatic leaders are associated with high levels of satisfaction among followers.)
  2. What makes you unique as a leader? Being myself. As a leader, it is important to be genuine about who you are. You don’t need to model yourself after someone else. You won’t be able to keep the facade up very long and people normally show you who they are, so I just try to be myself.
  3. Who was your role model as a leader? My Dad. He is the greatest man I’ve ever known and a genius in his own right!
  4. Can you share a quote or scripture that inspires you? Yes, I have three:

It takes courage to be exceptional!

You cannot talk yourself out of a problem that you behaved yourself into. Your behavior must change!

Some people have enough gifts and talents to get into a room but not enough character to stay.

  1. What has been your biggest leadership challenge to date? Balance. Most people think leadership is only conveyed in the work environment. However, you also need balance in your personal life (family). Being in the military, the family often suffers so it is important that when you are home to be home and to be a leader in your own household. If you have kids, especially boys, it is even more important because they are patterning their style and behavior after you. I take pride in leading within my organization, but especially in being a leader in my household.
  2. What achievement are you most proud of to date? I am proud of the achievements that people whom I mentor accomplish. Helping people achieve their goals is more important than my own. If I can play a small role in that …well that’s great!
  3. What advice would you give aspiring leaders in the 21st Century? Live a brave life! You may disappoint some people and that’s ok. Those are the people who have their own agendas, but the ones that are cheering you on won’t be disappointed. So again, live your brave life.

Follow my blog for more spotlights on everyday leaders.

Valeria Edmonds, Life and Leadership Coach

Masterful You

 

If you would like to be in the spotlight, please email me at akavaleria@masterfulyou.org.

Making Virtual Work

global teamsThe world of work is changing for professionals.  Two factors are changing the nature of how we work:  geographic dispersion caused by corporations increasing the reach of their organizations around the world and growing multiculturalism as people interact across the countries regularly (Adler and Gunderson, 2008).  Many of us now participate in meetings from our home office, in cars, airports, or trains, as well as in the office. Whether you work on a global team that has members in every region of the world, telecommute from a home office, participate in a virtual classroom, or you spend your days traveling to do business, learning how to shine virtually is a new skill that is required.  Here are my 5 tips for making virtual work for you:

  1. Frequent check-ins.  Your boss or professor may know that you’re working hard where ever you are, however, it’s up to you to let them know that you’re doing an amazing job.  Checking in frequently with updates on projects, success stories, questions about their priorities and new ideas for continuous improvement will show that you’re the same go-getter that always exceeds expectations.  You can send a text message, email, or pick up the phone and call.  Don’t wait for him or her to call you to see what’s going on in your area.
  2. Keep it professional.  When you’re on a call its easy to get so relaxed that it comes through in your voice.  Remember to sit up straight so that your voice sounds professional and clear.  Put your phone on mute when you’re not talking to cut down on background noise.  Jot down the names of people on the call so you can address people by name and by all means participate.  Make sure that you add value to any discussion and ask questions if you don’t understand or didn’t hear something that was said. Chances are others didn’t either.
  3. Master virtual body language.  We all know that over 70% of communication is done with body language and not words. This means that if no one can see you, it’s extremely important to use your words more effectively to get your message across.  Build up your emotional vocabulary so that you can describe what you’re feeling to others.  For example, “I’m very excited about this proposal and wish that you could see my enthusiasm over the phone!”  You can also use mindfulness to focus on the emotion that you want to convey so that it comes across in your tone of voice.
  4. Get a professional headshot.  You want people to put a face with the name so put your best face forward.  Use a picture in an introductory slide when doing a virtual presentation so that everyone knows who is speaking.  Keep your picture up to date on internal collaboration sites as well as on LinkedIn.  Smartphone pictures are okay as long as you dress professionally and take the pic in a professional or neutral setting.  Remember, this picture may be the only image some people ever see of you.
  5. Be a virtual leader.  You can demonstrate your leadership ability over the phone as much as you can in person.  Great leaders have vision, let them hear about your plans for a better future.  A vision is simply an idea that describes something better than what we have today.  Great leaders have a strategy for how we get from here to there.  What resources are required?  What are the steps that we need to take?  Great leaders engage others to achieve the vision by understanding their needs and motivations.  Get to know other members on your team and what makes them tick.  Inspire them by being inclusive and getting their input on your plans. Finally, great leaders get things done.  Let your team know about the progress that you are making towards your collective goals. Show that you are pulling your weight.

Working virtually is here to stay.  We live in a knowledge-driven and highly competitive business environment so we must learn to shine where ever we are.

Follow my blog post for more helpful tips to develop a more masterful you!

Valeria Edmonds, Masterful You

You can reach me for virtual coaching at akavaleria@masterfulyou.org

Leadership Spotlight on Leonard Dixon

Masterful You reflects the type of leader that operates from a core value that leadership is action, not position and who has a passion for helping others.  Every day men and women around the world show us what leadership looks like and rarely do they get the accolades they are due.  Today, we shine the spotlight on Leonard Dixon who is a Rig Manager at Gulf Drilling International in Doha, Qatar and a friendly face to all the African-Americans who make Doha their home away from home.

Leonard DixonWhen asked, this is what Leonard had to say about leadership:

1. What defines leadership for you?  Being in a position to make decisions that will have an effect on people lives.

2. How would you describe your leadership style? I’m a listening and learning leader. I realize that just because I’ve been blessed to be in a leadership position,  doesn’t make me know it all.  I learn something new every day that makes me a better leader.

3. What makes you unique as a leader? The passion that I have for what I do and the passion I have for the people who depend on me to do the right thing.

4. Who was your role model as a leader? My role model was my Grandfather, he always told me don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything.

5. Can you share a quote or scripture that inspires you? “Can’t Never Can” by The Late Clifton Willie Dixon

Leonards quote

 

6. What has been your biggest leadership challenge to date? Overcoming the stigma that some people have of Black Americans.  Especially outside the U.S. because too often the only image they have of us is from TV and movies.  As more of us take advantage of expatriate opportunities and to travel, the world gets to know that we have so much more to offer than they expect.

7. What achievement are you most proud of to date? Being a Father; it’s my most important leadership role and everything else is the result of trying to be a good Father.

8. What advice would you give aspiring leaders in the 21st Century? Know your craft, know the people you are leading, make the people you’re leading believe in your leadership ability and make yourself available to be challenged by the people you’re leading.

Follow my blog for more spotlights on everyday leaders.

Valeria Edmonds, Masterful You

If you would like to be in the spotlight, please email me at akavaleria@masterfulyou.org

Anatomy of a Coaching Conversation

What is coaching?  How do you know if you need a coach?  What’s the difference between a coach and a counselor or mentor?  What should I expect from a coach?  How does the process work?  These are all legitimate questions about an area that covers everything from supervisor feedback to help with your golf game to finding your life purpose.  Whatever the nature of the coaching conversation, it should always include three distinct components:  an agenda, exploration, and defining actions.

It’s up to the person who wants to improve to define the agenda.  Whether it’s your career, your performance, your leadership impact or your life, there must be an objective.  Generally, there is an overall objective that leads you to seek help but there also has to be an objective for the conversation.  Ask yourself, what do I want to get out of this discussion?  What would make this a good use of my time?  If you engage a coach to help improve your overall performance, you might have a conversation to understand the common themes in your feedback or to develop a plan for addressing specific feedback.  If you engage a coach to help with planning for life after retirement, you might use a session to clarify your goals.  The coach will help with your little agenda while keeping in mind the bigger agenda that you want to achieve.

When I’m mentoring, I draw from my experience in an effort to teach someone how to do something I know.  Likewise, counseling or consulting draws on the past and a specific area of expertise.  Coaching, on the other hand, pushes the client to draw from his or her own knowledge and experience.  It focuses on exploration and thoughtful consideration of what might be done differently to get better results.  A coach will ask thought-provoking questions or simply listen while you consider what the problems might be.  Typical probing questions include:

  • If you could achieve your goal in six months, what would it look like?
  • What else could you do?
  • What else occurs to you?
  • What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
  • Who else is affected in this situation?

The coach walks alongside you on the journey to improve.  They might share observations or provide tools to facilitate the discovery process, but a coach believes in the wisdom of the client to move from where they are to where they want to be.

All coaching conversations should lead to developing an action plan.  It doesn’t have to be formal, but you should walk away with something to do that will move you closer to your goals.  The work of coaching involves aligning the client’s passions, skills, and values with their daily actions.  The coach should leave their clients with more confidence, direction, and a greater sense of fulfillment than he or she otherwise would have.  This requires putting in the work between sessions to act on the learning and increased self-awareness.

A coaching conversation can be informal or you can pay for professional coaching services.  The advantages of coaching will be directly proportional to the effort and commitment that you make.  I strongly recommend professional coaching for anyone who wants to fulfill God’s vision for their lives and who understands the benefit of having someone walk alongside as you learn to live accordingly.

 

The Woman in the Mirror

The issues that women deal with and the lessons learned when we share our stories, transcend time and culture.  It’s like looking at a three-way mirror.

The mirror on the left reflects our ideal self, the image that represents all that we aspire to be based on what we’ve learned from our mothers, our friends, our culture, our religion.  It reflects all that is good and right and beautiful; the perfect size, posture, attitude, background, and future.  She is healthy and whole.  As the epitome of virtue, she inspires us and drives us to action.

The mirror on the left reflects our ideal self, the image that represents all that we aspire to be based on what we’ve learned from our mothers, our friends, our culture, our religion.  It reflects all that is good and right and beautiful; the perfect size, posture, attitude, background, and future.  She is healthy and whole.  As the epitome of virtue, she inspires us and drives us to action.

The mirror on the right reflects the naked truth that no one gets to see but us.  The image represents our insecurities, our failures, our disappointments, and our displeasure.  It reflects all that we loathe; that we think is wrong and ugly about ourselves.  She is the one who binges, masturbates, fornicates, overspends, gossips, underachieves, procrastinates, yells at her children, disrespects her husband, farts loudly, hoards and cuts corners.  She is our shame and what we try so very hard to hide.

The mirror in front of us is the one we present to the world.  The superficial person we makeup and cover up to feel comfortable facing tomorrow.  The image we create to impress others and the one who gives us the courage to face tomorrow.  She helps us to get out of bed each morning, ignore everything else and look straight ahead.  She’s holding it together and while not perfect she’s good enough.  Good enough to marry, good enough to sing in the choir, good enough to serve in the community, good enough to raise children, good enough to be your friend.  She’s good enough to function most days.

Our dysfunction is directly proportional to the difference between the mirror on the left and the mirror on the right.  How we feel about ourselves and the energy we expend to make the adjustments necessary to face the world also reflects our relationship with God.  If we don’t believe that God loves the real woman on the right, how can we love her?  If we don’t believe the woman on the left is real, how can we ever be at peace?  That’s why we’re overweight and tired.  We’re longing for Him to love us the way we are, but we don’t love ourselves.  We try to fill the void with food, clothes, men, busyness, or whatever else we can but it’s still there; that craving for unconditional love.

Everything good and perfect is from God with whom there is no variation or shadow when you see His reflection.  By his own will and desire, he created us and is making us into new creatures through his words of truth so that we would be like first-fruits consecrated by Him; set apart and dedicated to his service.

That’s why we must get rid of all the filthiness and the abundance of wickedness that gets in the way of our productivity.  We must receive with meekness the Word, which is able to save souls and have it implanted in our hearts.  We have to be women who live the word, and not just those who sit in church every Sunday deceiving ourselves.  The one who hears and takes no action is the woman who looks in the mirror on the right and sees herself for who she really is and then goes away pretending that she is the woman on the left.  However, the one who looks into the word, which is perfect and gives liberty, then, makes the adjustments necessary will be blessed in all she does.  If we think we are Christians but don’t know how to apply the word of God to our daily lives in a real and practical way, we are lying to ourselves and our religion is useless.

Real unadulterated religion is to help those in our midst who are in trouble and to face the world with your true authentic self; the woman who has been washed in the blood of the lamb; the one who Jesus’ loves today and died for over two thousand years ago.  The one whose sins he forgave before she was even born; the one who is fearfully and wonderfully made in His image; the one who is a princess and part of a royal priesthood.  She is beautiful but she’s not perfect.  She is righteous but she is not sinless.  She is holy but not pious.  She is confident but not arrogant.  She is real.

Change

So true

Andonnia's Truth

Createherstock A Summer Day Neosha Gardner 23
I can’t force what isn’t there. I want to invite you to stick with me on this journey. There are shifts taking place in my mindset, perspective, in my faith, and in my schedule.

Isn’t life a constant state of change?

If change were easy, we would call it something else. We would call it something more specific to a pleasurable experience, however sometimes change is uncomfortable.

Sometimes the labor pains, that bring forth a beautiful birth, create a new level of anguish. New mothers can tell you the feelings leading up to birth can be a mental and physical stretch, simultaneously. However, when the birthing process has produced its purposed fruit, your attention shifts from the pain to the purpose of the pain. Are you in a birthing place? Are you in the place where something from unchartered waters is coming forth? When you have no prototype, you…

View original post 416 more words