4 minutes to read
Many years ago, I had the pleasure of travelling through Africa for several months.
A continent that is resource rich and fertile. Theoretically it should be prospering and even thriving.
But it isn’t.
After I returned, I had much time to reflect on the experience and decided the difference between New Zealand and Africa was what resided in our heads.
Over there, you couldn’t rely on the rule of law, and self (by that I mean personal) governance. Corruption, laziness, and a lack of integrity were endemic. Their moral compass had been skewed.
In recent times, I have witnessed first hand when business owners and managers have lost their moral compass.
If staff, suppliers and contractors can’t rely on their managers and owners to create a safe environment for them then a fundamental trust is broken.
Without trust, a key cornerstone of what makes a group of individuals into a successful team or organisation is lost.
Without trust, a sense of inclusion, commitment, loyalty and pride are all undermined.
A safe environment, is an environment where leaders can be relied upon to have a universal sense of what is right and wrong, what is good and evil.
Staff ought to be able to rely on their leaders to expect and enforce an environment where universal values are upheld. When they aren’t the reputation and performance of the organisation and business, are respectively, damaged and impeded.
Values are often gradually eroded. Few set out to become evil. But one small thing gets added to another. Years pass and things originally unacceptable have become part of the furniture.
Products being mislabelled as being a better quality than they actually are. Inflated hours being billed that were never worked because “the customer thinks the amount is reasonable”, or mis-classifying personal expenses as business ones. Some would say these are little things, but they mount up.
Because they creep up on us, its useful to take stock once in a while. Are we honest? Can we be described as being as pure as the driven snow? Why not? What message are we sending to one another if we tolerate it. How much does this kind of thing hold us back?
Sometimes our moral compass can be so eroded that we’ve unknowningly lost objectivity. When you take stock look for signs that things aren’t right. Are there things we’d rather hide from customers, staff, our spouses or the authorities? Do we say things like, what they don’t know won’t hurt them?
I believe even though we think we might be successful, there might be even more success if we could avoid the temptation to cut corners. It’s never too late to change course.