Yesterday saw the final game in the 2006 World Cup, probably the most watched sporting event in the world. Weeks of competition leading up to a final where two of the bigger names in the sport face off. The result is history, “the Azzurri” took the prize and Italians around the world celebrated loudly (certainly there were lots of honking horns while I ate dinner on a patio in Ottawa!)
The final game saw one of the World’s greatest players, a noted statesman within the game, ejected for head butting an opponent. Zinedine Zidane will regret that decision for a long time to come. A seasoned professional playing his last game of soccer before retiring from the game … Captain of the French team … and he let the Italian defender get under his skin! For Canadians this would have been like Wayne Gretsky playing as Captain of Canada in the Olympic final as his last game ever and pulling a “Todd Bertuzzi” sucker punch! Unthinkable!
Even the greatest players, those at the top of their game, can make decisions that they regret. The problem in those situations is that there is no recovery … once the head-butt was delivered the Italian player was, true to form, going to act like he was shot with a cannon and the red card was inevitable.
In day to day dealings most of us get a chance to think about, and even revisit, our decisions and we have the opportunity to make the right choice. Perhaps if Bernie Ebbers and Kenneth Lay had stepped back from their particular situations and applied solid principles to their decisions we might have avoided the kind of scandals that rocked Worldcom and Enron.
In business, we do get the luxury of some time when making decisions, and the best advice that I can offer on this subject is to be true to your core values. Every company needs to have core values that are consistent with the culture of that company, and it is incumbent on the management of the company to be true to those core values. Often there is a lure of financial gains, but if you are not true to your core values when you make a decision then you will have regrets later!
Zinedine Zidane forgot himself for a few seconds and decked the annoying Italian defender. Corporate leaders get a lot more than a few seconds to make their business decisions … make them without regrets!