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The Greater Good or Personal Interest

Having sat on numerous boards and committees over the years, I am always conscious of the need to strike the right balance between personal self interest and the needs of the greater good.  Certainly my own experiences are what qualify me to be able to understand the issues, to provide intelligent input and to represent stakeholders … but if I put my own needs first then I undermine that position of representing the “greater good”, and quickly lose credibility.

If I am a board member on a condo board and use that position to make sure my specific issues are dealt with, then I am NOT representing the needs of my constituents, and hence not fulfilling my role as a board member.

This applies to any kind of volunteer board … charities, industry associations, boards of trade etc.  I am there to represent the “greater good” and if I can’t separate my issues with the board’s agenda then I shouldn’t be there.

The same might be said of board members at public companies … if I am “feathering my nest” with the decisions that I make, then I am not representing the needs of all shareholders.   In addition to being morally wrong, it is possible this would be illegal!

I wrote a blog entry suggesting that Credibility is something that is EARNED … through actions.  I think its equally true that credibility is also easily LOST through actions … and once lost it is that much more difficult to re-establish! 

If you purport to represent the “greater good” but actually look after yourself, then it doesn’t take long for people to see that … and then goodbye credibility

A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor’s” … Richard Whately