While relationships are a fundamental aspect of the human experience, our dealings with friends, family members, significant others, co-workers and superiors are often riddled with strife and consternation. In The People Factor (©2014, Thomas Nelson), author Van Moody lays out the steps to building and maintaining genuine, authentic relationships. Among the subjects the book addresses are toxic people. You are in a toxic relationship when others:
- Stifle your talent and limit your opportunities for advancement;
- Twist circumstances and conversations to their benefit;
- Chide or punish you for a mistake rather than help you correct it;
- Remind you constantly or publicly of a disappointing experience or unmet expectation;
- Take credit or withhold recognition for new ideas and extra effort;
- Focus solely on meeting their goals and do so at your expense;
- Fail to respect your need for personal space and time.
According to Michael Vaughan, author of The Thinking Effect: Rethinking Thinking To Create Great Leaders and the New Value Worker (©2013, Nicholas Brealey Publishing), for organizations and societies to grow in a healthy and sustainable way, people must learn how to think in novel and emerging situations. The book explains how to evolve and improve thinking, how to create learning solutions, individual practices and real-world applications, and how to resist complacency and sustain the thinking effect. It advocates neural leadership—understanding and engaging with the psychology of your team—while employees will learn how to:
- Develop patterns of thought that differential top performers from those who merely do their jobs;
- Increase productivity, improve problem-solving, and influence profitability;
- Develop a framework that can help them systemically address any type of decision or problem; and
- Become valued workers, who generate value for growth and a sustainable future.
How do you get people to act ethically in the workplace? It begins with ethical leadership, according to Linda Fisher Thornton, author of 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership (@2013, Leading in Context LLC). People want a leader who treats everyone with respect, is fully inclusive, respects differences, and is willing to build trust inside the organization and across political, economic, social and cultural boundaries. Among the recommendations the book addresses:
- Face the complexity involved in making ethical choices. Don't oversimplify decisions. Openly discuss the ethical grey areas and acknowledge the complexity of work life. Involve others in more of the ethical decisions. Be a leader who talks about the difficult ethical choices, and help others learn to take responsibility for making ethical decisions carefully.
- Talk about the right thing to do in the context of your daily challenges. Don't separate ethics from day-to-day business. Make it clear to your people that ethics is “the way we operate” and not a training program or reference manual. Every activity, whether it is a staff training program, a membership meeting, or an important top management strategy session, should include conversations about ethics.
- Demonstrate respect for everyone all the time. Don't allow negative interpersonal behaviors to erode trust. Make respect a load-bearing beam in your culture. Be an ethical leader who expects it and practices it. Cultivate a respectful environment where people can speak up about ethics and share the responsibility for living it. Build trust, demand open communication and share the ownership of organizational values.
- Take responsibility broadly, and reach for the highest level of ethical leadership. Don't think about ethics as just following laws and regulations. Take action and show members, donors, and other stakeholders that you are actively engaged with ethical issues that matter. Recognize how ethics influences their reasons to engage with your association, and demonstrate your commitment to go beyond mere compliance with laws and regulations. Prove that you are committed to ethical issues, including human rights, social justice, and sustainability.
- Hold everyone accountable, and expect leaders to model the standards. Don't exempt anyone from meeting ethical expectations. Allow no excuses. Make sure that no one is exempted from meeting the ethical standards you adopt. Maintain the status of ethics as a total, absolute, must do in the association. Hold everyone, particularly board leadership and senior staff, accountable. No exceptions!
- When you talk about ethics, don't just talk about the negative. Celebrate positive ethical moments. Be a proactive ethical leader, championing high ethical conduct and emphasizing prevention. Talk about what positive ethics looks like in practice as often as you talk about what to avoid. Take time to celebrate positive ethical choices.
- Don't ever stop. Talk about ethics as an ongoing learning journey, not a once-a-year training program. Integrate ethics into every action of your organization—everything people do, touch, or influence. Talk about ethics as an ongoing learning journey, not something you have or don't have. Recognize that the world changes constantly, and that ethical conduct requires that everyone remain vigilant. Ethics has an important and permanent role in our work lives for as long as we live.