What do you stand for? This is a question all leaders should able to answer fairly easily but most struggle with addressing. I’ve been in many organizations where if you asked the question, “What does this business stand for,” you would get blank stares. Values are the building blocks of any organization. Without a common set of beliefs and principles, a company is like a ship without a rudder – adrift in a sea of individual interpretation and situational experience. It has never been just about making money but how you make your money that matters the most. And, the how involves many issues such as the way you treat your customers, employees, vendors, the environment, etc.
The more success you have the more temptations will come your way. It’s easy to start to think of yourself as different or special when you outperform your peers. You may begin to rationalize that the same basic moral rules don’t apply to you, but they do. Character is certainly forged in the fires of adversity. However, you also learn a lot about someone’s character when everything seems to go their way. The saying goes “if you want to know who someone truly is then give them money and power.”
I don’t often write about spiritual or faith issues in my blog because for the most part I believe these are personal decisions. There are also many other people more capable and better equipped than me to address the issue. I’m comfortable in my own beliefs and hope you are in your own as well. However, I do feel strongly that there is a direct correlation between an individual’s belief structure and their level of happiness and capacity for resilience. Life is much more meaningful if you believe you are part of something bigger than yourself and there is a reason for being here beyond survival and personal comfort.
All leaders ultimately reach a point where their resolve is tested and they have to make some form of a moral decision. Words are easy. Action is much more difficult. Just about every organization I work with has a core set of values they have created to communicate what the organization stands for and the boundaries of acceptable behavior.