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Behavioral ethics starts with a mindset, not a skillset!

Frank C. Bucaro ( is a thought leader on values-based leadership development at Frank C. Bucaro LLC, in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, USA.

Mindset first, skillset second.

I learned this years ago when I was studying martial arts. As you know, people go through the different stages of skillsets: white belt, yellow belt, and so on, all the way to black belt. When I was up to test for my brown belt classification, I looked at what I had to do—break boards, defend myself with advanced techniques, etc.—and got nervous. I thought I was going to fail.

The master teacher knew this, and pointed to the wall to read this statement: “SET YOUR MIND.”

I read it, shifted my thinking, set my mind, and had the highest score to achieve the brown belt. After three months of practice, I knew I had all the skills. But I didn’t have the right mindset, so what good are the skills? When I finally did set my mind, I broke a tower of bricks and some boards and was able to master those self-defense techniques flawlessly. But again, what good would this skillset be if I didn’t have the mindset?

What did I learn? Every day, I set my mind on every area of my life. So, let’s discuss how you can set your mind as a leader.

When we take a good hard look at what constitutes behavioral ethics, action is the focus. However, sometimes we want to understand the reasoning behind an action—or lack thereof—especially if something was done that led to serious implications.

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