20,000 Days and Counting

Summary Written by Ben Wallis
"Think beyond ourselves in all of the scope and complexity that 'beyond ourselves' represents."

- 7 Lenses, page 7

The Big Idea

Make the world better for future generations

"Movement toward leadership for the greater good is the expected level of ethics in a global society."- 7 Lenses, page 25

Fisher Thornton writes: “When we use all 7 Lenses together we see a kaleidoscopic view of ethical leadership that honors its inherent complexity.”

She moves through the 7 Lenses to show that there is an ever-increasing level of responsibility and impact:

  • Lens One: Profit – Make Money
  • Lens Two: Law – Comply
  • Lens Three: Character – Be Moral
  • Lens Four: People – Care
  • Lens Five: Communities – Serve
  • Lens Six: Planet – Sustain
  • Lens Seven: Greater Good – Do Good

The idea is to work all seven lenses concurrently, from making money through to concern for the greater good. If you just focus on Lens One, which is profit, or Lens Two, which is avoiding penalties by complying with laws and regulations, then money is where your morality will be, or you will be grounded in the punishment threshold of worrying about the need to comply. Instead, lead with Lens Seven, and focus on benefitting society and future generations. At the same time, always consider and integrate Lens Six, which is respecting life and nature; Lens Five, helping those in need; Lens Four, respecting others; and Lens Three, aligning your thoughts, words, and deeds.

Insight #1

Apply moral concepts

"Bring out the best in people, organizations, and communities, with principles that are broad enough to provide a framework for leading ethically in any context."- 7 Lenses, page 31

Fisher Thornton introduces 14 Guiding Principles of Ethical Leadership to help incorporate the 7 Lenses into day-to-day decisions and actions:

Lead With a Moral Compass

  • Principle 1: Demonstrate Personal Congruence
  • Principle 2: Be Morally Aware
  • Principle 3: Stay Competent
  • Principle 4: Model Expected Performance and Leadership

Lead in Ways That Bring Out the Best in Others

  • Principle 5: Respect Others
  • Principle 6: Respect Boundaries
  • Principle 7: Trust and Be Trustworthy
  • Principle 8: Communicate Openly
  • Principle 9: Generate Effective and Ethical Performance

Lead With Positive Intent and Impact

  • Principle 10: Think Like an Ethical Leader
  • Principle 11: Do Good Without Doing Harm
  • Principle 12: Work for Mutually Beneficial Solutions

Lead for the Greater Good

  • Principle 13: Protect Our Planet for Future Generations
  • Principle 14: Improve Our Global Society for Future Generations

The first step starts with you – leading with a moral compass – which means consistency between what you feel, say, and do, and aligning your actions with your core values. As Stephen M.R. Covey states: “People who are congruent act in harmony with their deepest values and beliefs…The voice they listen and respond to is the quiet voice of conscience.” A foundation of moral and ethical awareness, and the continued development of personal competence, will earn the respect of others. From here, you will emerge as a strong leader, bringing out the best in others, moving forward with positive intent and impact, which can help shape the world for future generations.

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Insight #2

Leadership for the greater good

"Move from thinking about leadership as ‘transactional’ to thinking about leadership for the ‘greater good’."- 7 Lenses, page 119

To show the expected evolution of leadership, Fisher Thornton talks about six connected trends shaping the future of ethical leadership:

  1. Broadening scope
  2. Increased visibility
  3. Focus on protecting human rights
  4. Companies contributing to society
  5. Managing ethics as a performance system
  6. Retooling skills to stay ethically competent

Broadening scope is about moving beyond the local mindset to the global mindset. There is an increased visibility of products and services around the world, which means we should provide customers with positive experiences fueled by strong ethics and leadership. At the same time, we are all unique and all connected, making human rights and respect a critical component of every interaction. Companies should always be thinking about the business impacts on the environment and how they contribute to society. Ethics should be communicated clearly through an ethics code, incorporating consistent messaging through a moral compass. We need to be thinking as global citizens, collaborating across boundaries, which means constantly retooling to stay ethically competent.

Throughout 7 Lenses, Fisher Thornton invites leaders to think beyond themselves, and communicate openly about ethical responsibility and how to take action in our connected, interdependent world. Ultimately, the 7 Lenses and 14 Guiding Principles are meant to be transformative, and to release positive energy into the workplace, creating great places to work. It is part of a powerful and necessary movement, Fisher Thornton concludes, making us better leaders and people.

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Robert D. Smith

FOR MORE THAN THREE DECADESRobert D. Smith (TheRobertD) has managed and overseen the career of Andy Andrews, a three-time New York Times best-selling author and in-demand speaker.

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