If at the end of every day you had to sign your name against what you’ve done. The conversations you had with staff, customers, suppliers. The decisions you’ve made. The products and services you’ve shipped out the door. If you had to put your name against it to take full responsibility would you?
Quality, standards, ethics, values, trust are all key facets of business but to what extent do you pay them lip service rather than live by them? How often to these aspects seem to be at odds with making a profit?
How often is there a decision to be made which if you follow your values will take you down one route but if you sell out on your values (yes that’s what you’re doing) will take you down another, often appearing more profitable? It’s hard at times, and usually these times are at the beginning of practicing this habit. It’s harder to stay with your values and keep looking for a solution that will deliver profitability to the business, than it is to go with the obvious profitable solution that asks you to ignore a value or two. However as it becomes clear both to yourself and to others that compromising on values isn’t an option then finding profitable and ethical solutions becomes easier.
Organisations have values they claim to live by. It’s the leaders that are then beholden to live by them. It’s not that organisations are ethical, or unethical, it’s that the people within choose to act ethically or not. Makes your bum cheeks squeak a bit when you think of it like that. It takes the anonymity out of it and brings it back where it needs to be, personal. As a leader you have to walk the talk – well OK you don’t have to, but then of course if you don’t you’ve said it doesn’t matter to the rest of your staff.
The tide is turning on tolerating unethical behaviour. Yes we’re accountable to investors to make a good ROI, yet if we cut corners and compromise on quality, standards and ethics, we run the risk of being found out, and then been called to account. We only need to look at the News of The World to get a timely reminder of where our daily actions and choices can lead us.
So is there anything today you’d hesitate to put your name to? There is still time to change all that.