Todd Finley, an Edutopia blogger, begins a recent post “Education is catastrophically deficient in trust,” and argues that teachers must take a leap of faith to learn how to trust their students so that they can be successful
The recently released results of the National Business Ethics Survey® of Social Networkers by the Ethics Resource Center uncovered an interesting relationship between social networking at work and ethics risks.
UncommonSense® is a framework of ethical characteristics, or defined "character ethics" – that support effective leadership and positive, flourishing relationships.
We call them character ethics because they focus on character, not on compliance to a set of rules. Charcater ethics are self-evident truths that when acted on consistently, produce conscionable behaviors, such as: compassionate acts, honest answers and just decisions.
A growing body of research and literature confirms that the most effective organizational leaders demonstrate "Transformation at the Top." By this we mean that they strive, by example, to model high character consistently and humbly... although not perfectly. As a result, these leaders, over time, build pervasive cultures of trust and resulting greatness in their organizations. UncommonSense principles guide this change by defining and thus making simple the transfer of high character behaviors and expectations.
Sadly this framework is "uncommon" because defined, transferable character-building tools (and the resulting culture-shaping decisions and conversations they inspire) have been neglected by our K-16 educational and management development institutions. Fortunately, despite this neglect, character-based leadership makes "sense" becuse it affirms conscionable qualities such as honety and integrity.
Managers and leaders of conscience will find these common sense tools of great value as they seek to create and inspire teams to be more productive, innovative, problem-solving and collaborative. Consistent, conscionable behavior is the only thing that creates interpersonal trust, sustainable reltionships and truly ethical enterprises.
BBB's UncommonSense Framework is didvided into four leadership descriptors:
• Principled & Genuine
• Values Others
• Seeks Results
• Displays Growth
This framework is most effective when studied with others and when used with the separate UncommonSense self-administered personal assesment.
1. SEEKING WISDOM
High character people seek something greater than intelligence or knowledge (knowing information); they seek wisdom (knowing what is right and true). Wisdom requires us to reflect, to contemplate, and to use our conscience before acting. Wisdom requires humility. You must be teachable. If you are to put these things into practice, you must be willing to take a look at what you thought you knew about yourself and the ideas you hold. (Observabe virtues: principled, prudent, contemplative and humble).
High character people are true to their beliefs. They strive to be what they say they are and their behavior matches their beliefs. They actively self-refect, and know who they are and what they stand for. Their actions are consistent with their beliefs, and they strive to do "what is right or wise" rather than "what might work or be popular." They seek wisdom first, and then consistently apply it to themselves and as a result can be trusted within their organizations, marriages, families, fellowships, friendships, teams, etc. (Observable virtues: genuine, reflective, self-aware and single-minded).
High character people do what they say they will do. In addition to acting consistently with their beliefs, people with integrity do what they say they will do even when it is inconvenient or difficult. If they are unable to to keep their commitments they inform those affected and take corrective action. They are candid in supplying relevant information. They do not interpret agreements in any unreasonably technical or legalistic manner in order to rationalize non-compliance or to justify escaping their promises. They resist manipulation and avoid practicing it. (Observable virtues: reliable, consistent, predictable and orderly).
High character people speak the truth with compassion. Honest people speak up, present their facts with thoughtful accuracy, and do so with compassion. They do not avoid communicating critical or disappointing news, but present it accurately and with genuine care for the recipient. They are clear in their communications to minimize misunderstandings. They do not deliberately mislead or deceive other by misrepresentations, overstatements, partial truths, selective omissions or other intentional, negligent or sloppy means. They take responsibility and don't shift blame. To avoid confusing others, honest peope break habits of sarcasm and cynicism. To avoid angering others theyavoid sanctimonious and condescending tones. (Observable virtues: discrete, discerning and precise).
High character people treat others as they would want to be treated. Respectful people take the “Golden Rule” to heart. They understand that although every person is capable of both honorable and dishonorable conduct, the intrinsic worth of others is equal to their own worth. This conviction makes valuing diverse roles, giftedness, skills, style, personality, race, religion, and genders logical and compelling. Respect leads diverse people to value the dignity of others while having the liberty to disagree with their opinions. (Observable virtues: inclusive, engaging and honoring).
6. COMPASSION FOR OTHERS
High character people extend unmerited kindness to others. Compassionate people are moved by their conscience, rather than their emotions alone, to be genuinely benevolent and giving. They not only respect others but they are compelled to understand and selflessly help them. They abhor meanness, cruelty and neglect. They treat kindly even the “hard-to-love”, with true sincerity. (Observable virtues: kind, gentle, patient, encouraging, benevolent and generous).
High character people understand they are far from perfect, and seek with humility to extend to and receive unmerited acceptance from others. Forgiving people know that everyone including themselves at some point will act unwisely or violate principles. They thus forgive others and genuinely seek forgiveness to reconcile or restore their relationships that were damaged by their actions. Seeking forgiveness requires a confession of error by the offender. Rendering forgiveness is an act of understanding, even if undeserved, by the offended. High character people are thankful when forgiven and are motivated to forgive inevitable offenses against them. (Observable virtues: patient, grateful and merciful).
High character people strive to build relationships that foster harmony and collaboration among others who share a common promise, mission or purpose. Ethical leaders seek unity of purpose in their teams so that they may work together effectively. Shared character ethics and agreement on goals among otherwise richly diverse people creates unity, thus the high character leader deliberately and persistently encourages team commitment to mission and goals. (Observable virtues: reconciler, integrator and collaborator).
9. LEARNING & MENTORING
High character people are lifelong learners and teachers. People committed to learning and mentoring actively seek to learn more and share that knowledge with others. They desire to learn more about themselves, become a better person, and to help others do likewise. They nurture teaching relationships in order to maximize the character and competency of others; they are mentors. Mentors endeavor to invest their lives in others in order to help them help others to attain their greatest potential. (Observable virtues: curious, creative, teachable, inspirational).
High character leaders put the success of others and the group above themselves. Serving-Leaders model and mentor high character conduct and produce an inspiring environment in which members grow and flourish. They are not driven by power or personal glory but rather concern for the betterment of all individuals, the group and society as a whole. (Observable virtues: selfless, optimistic, future-oriented, visionary).
11. HONORING AUTHORITY
High character people respect boundaries for behavior. They help shape and then abide by the legitimate regulations and boundaries established by legitimate authorities and strive to live within those boundaries for the betterment of all. They understand that laws and rules apply to them, not just others. They expect the same of those around them; when others violate laws, rules or ethics, they take wise action to justly hold them accountable.
High character people uphold truth, expose error and correct wrongs. Just people are diligent in weighing evidence and seeking out the truth. They analyze and evaluate individuals and information. They protect the innocent, but hold the guilty accountable. They strive not to be harsh, exasperating or manipulative. Just people try to objectively determine what outcome, however difficult or painful, is right. (Observable virtues: impartial, unbiased, diligent, decisive).
High character people consistently and persistently act on their strong convictions. They demonstrate strength to take risks, persevere, through danger, fear, accusations, or difficulty. Courageous people are not intimidated by or over-wrought with concern for the opinions of others. They do not give up; they consider alternatives and aggressively pursue actions to produce desired outcomes while making every effort to preserve unity and trust. They do not resist change but rather lead into new directions, focused upon the end goal. (Observable virtues: tenacious, determined, unwavering, strategic, resilient, grit).
High character people scrutinize themselves and welcome the scrutiny of others. They adopt a transparent style that invites inspection, and do not isolate themselves or their actions from others which is essential to forming transparent, collaborative environments. They place themselves in relationships that motivate self-examination and encourage constructive critique from others, particularly those they serve. (Observable virtues: open, up-front, self-disclosing, transparent).
High character people live as if they will eventually reap what they sow. They actively identify with the role of trustee or steward rather than owner. They perceive their function as a resource or role “caretaker” for a limited time. As a result they regard positions and possessions as conferred in temporary trust. Therefore, they care for their respective positions and possessions diligently and seek to add value to every role and every resource to which they have been entrusted. (Observable virtues: careful, ordered, generous, shrewd, watchful).
16. SEEKING COUNSEL
High character people seek wise counsel particularly when confronted with ethically ambiguous issues. Because they are guided by their tireless pursuit of truth, they regularly seek the wisdom of others of high character. After they weigh this advice, they act. The goal of this process is wise actions (what is right) rather than popular action (what would make one appear good) or solely pragmatic action (what might appear to work). The result of a decision made with wise counsel is a clear conscience and the fruit of a clear conscience is contentment. (Observable virtues: thoughtful, curious, discerning).
High character people fulfill their personal responsibilities as good citizens.Responsible people exercise restraint and self-control so that the need for public controls is minimized. They understand the obligations of good citizenship and strive to communicate and live by high character ethics. They intentionally call others to do so to preserve liberty for everyone. (Observable virtues: self-governing, self-controlled, self-disciplined).
High character people strive to be their best knowing that this enables them to do their best every day. Excellence is the result of both high character and high competence. People who have knowledge and skills, but who are not honest, respectful or persevering, will not be as successful as those who have those qualities. A “culture of excellence” is achieved when skillful, competent people behave ethically and diligently. True and enduring organizational excellence therefore is only sustainable by people of high character. (Observable virtues: enthusiasm, focus, determination, consistency).
High character people accept change and seek personal improvement over time. They seek to apply their wisdom to their actions and develop habits of good character. They do not persist with habits and behaviors that are wrong or of low character. This maturation takes time and requires practice and perseverance. (Observable virtues: positive change, healthy growth, wise choices).
High character people exhibit consistent, positive, and intentional commitment to high character. As people adopt these habits of strong character ethics, and they strive to display them in their actions, they are transformed. While no one is perfect, high character people find a way to make a habit of pursuing what is good and true and correspondingly, also find a way to avoid what is wrong and/or destructive. If we are on a path to ethical maturity, we tend to more quickly self-correct or accept the critique of others and make changes. The development of high character best grows in environments that involve accountability, self-discipline, and sacrifice. (Observable virtues: high character, ethical, conscientious).
Persevering as a character-builder is the only thing that is truly 100% within every leader’s personal control. This means there is hope for personal change today that is not dependent on change in others or in our circumstances. Our conscience drives our convictions; these convictions drive our conduct, regardless of our past, our current circumstances or setting that are non-supportive, cynical or hostile.