Blog: Garden Hill Views

Installment 2, Ethics in Practice: Why it Matters

I was engaged in various capacities at several unique organizations, all of which provided a wealth of learning in the arenas of management, leadership and ethics. As I emphasized earlier, these were and are solid organizations, led by good people, with good programs, providing valuable–sometimes exceptional–community services. However, in all cases, the viability of each entity is put at risk when ethical violations occur, even unknowingly or “when no one got hurt”. Please note that I have not yet adequately defined the term Ethics as I use it in this series. I think some of my understanding lies in the space between Ethics and Integrity. More on that to come later.

Further  thoughts and caveats on this series is shown in the introduction to Installment 1, here.

For this installment: A Case of Embellishment

Continue reading “Installment 2, Ethics in Practice: Why it Matters”

Essential Conversation

There is a very popular book that is widely utilized in organizations: “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High” by Kerry Patterson,  Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler. This is a great book; we should all be reading it regularly.  In some organizations, this valuable text is required reading, and every staff person is provided a personal copy.

There are other, deeper aspects to conversation that I think also require a bit of attention. One aspect is that of  the proactive conversation, or what I call the Essential Conversations (EC). These are the conversations that establish our baselines and the shared understanding of how we are going to be in relationship. This model and term was established, in fact, in the clinical family counseling arena, and the version I use is adapted from Bob Dunham’s framework in his Generative Leadership programs (with permission).
Continue reading “Essential Conversation”

Listening, Part II

Five Ways to Listen Well
Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who
 do more listening than talking.
Bernard Baruch

Good listening skill is a key skill for anyone who works with others in business, government or nonprofits. It is especially important for those in management and leadership positions. It is something I myself am always working to improve in my own interactions and something I help others to develop. Continue reading “Listening, Part II”

Listening, Part I

Listening to Understand
One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening
to what another
 has to say.
Bryant H. McGill

Effective listening, I’ve been told, is essential to all healthy relationships.

If we fail to listen to our children, how can we be sensitive to their unique needs? If we fail to listen to our spouse or partner, we convey that they are not really so important in our lives.

We hear relationship and communication experts tell us that when we are in conversation, most of us are engaging our brains to devise our next statement or argument, rather than being engaged in listening to what the other is actually saying. This becomes especially true in times of conflict or when a difficult subject is being addressed. It becomes a game of “Ok, I’ll give you a turn to talk, but wait for what I’m going to say next. You are going to be so impressed!” We listen just enough to prepare an effective comeback. Continue reading “Listening, Part I”

Communication in Business

It is sometimes the practice of business and nonprofit leaders to take the approach that “It is not personal, it is just business.”

You might see this is an issue if you consider that businesses and organizations are nothing if not a collection of human beings working towards a common goal, and each one of them has personal needs and viewpoints—none of which can be ignored. If we want the entity to be a profitable and impactful enterprise, success requires an organizational atmosphere and culture of trust. And interestingly, Trust is a human characteristic and is always founded upon the personal level. “Do I trust this person, or does this person trust me?”  So, it is the personal level that allows the trust to flourish. It flourishes—just like my beloved garden in my backyard—when we know the other sees us fully, hears us and we can hear them.

I delve further here, in a piece on Being Heard.

Being Heard

Three ways to Impart Wisdom:

Any one of us can lose control of a situation or a relationship. We can let things can go sideways. Any relationship can get to a breaking point in spite of our best intentions. There are dozens of causes for relationship-fails and breaks, including: lack of (mutual) skill; overworking;  neglect (of ourselves or the other); or too much time spent in chaotic environments. It is easy to loose our center point and become ungrounded.  Accelerated pace and multiple stressors can push us to lose sight of our true path and highest purpose. This has happened to me, and it has probably happened to you, too. This is why I advocate for Radical Self Care, but that is another essay.

Reflecting on a recent setback, I considered words spoken by one of my truth-tellers: “You cannot be responsible for how others receive your wisdom (advice, inputs, recommendations, etc),  you are only responsible for how you deliver it.”  Wow, this points to just one way any of us  might get off track. In trying to help, we might make things worse. Continue reading “Being Heard”

Two Ways to Improve Whistle-Blower practices

Whistle Blowers, and the will to speak…

In a piece for the Huffington Post, Carol Morgan writes,

Let’s face it – it seems like we live in an age where we all see a lot of borderline criminal behavior in our work places. As for me, even though I haven’t witnessed overtly criminal behavior, I have definitely seen a lot of blatant pathological lying that wreaked havoc on everyone in the line of fire. In fact, we had one person who made our work lives miserable, but many of us were afraid to report the person. I guess we were afraid to be the “whistle-blower.”

Whistle blowing is an important matter within the discussion of Ethics, because many times, regardless of our level in the company hierarchy, we find ourselves needing to make a decision about whether to report a violation. This invariably involves an assessment of risk to ourselves or our livelihood, along with measuring the issue against our own moral compass.  Additionally, how an organization and its leaders handle reports of violations will reveal much about the entity’s values and ethical standards. Continue reading “Two Ways to Improve Whistle-Blower practices”