One of the author’s that had the biggest effect on me over the years was Steven Covey. Certainly his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People had an impact on me, but it is perhaps his philosophy about “values” that really resonates with me.
Covey’s belief is that for any organisation to be sustainable it has to adhere to a set of core values that govern every decision. It is a belief that I share … of course it is not always easy to stay the course, but I also believe that once you let those beliefs “slip” then you are headed for problems.
This concept applies every bit as much to each of us as individuals, as it does to companies!
When you compromise your principles (or core values) just once then where is the new “line”? If its OK to cheat a little, is it OK to cheat a little bit more? Where does it stop?
Each of us as individuals needs to have our our “line in the sand” … that represents our stand on matters of ethics, or principle. We need to really understand who we are in order to make that decision. We need to understand what is important to us in life.
Consider the impact you have on those around you, by your actions.
A classic example would be the smoking parent who berates their children not to smoke, and the fact that they can’t quit is the reason that their child shouldn’t start. Or the adult who throws their garbage down on the street but expects their children not to follow that example.
It follows into management also … if you have a habit of coming to work late, leaving early, stretching lunches and taking off for golf games then what example are you setting your staff? It may be OK for you that they come in late, but you are developing bad habit in those people that will last a lifetime. Is that OK? Or perhaps you don’t think you are responsible for them?
When I was in the navy (about 100 years ago) one of the worst “sins” anyone could commit was to steal from a colleague. However if you were negligent enough to leave temptation lying around then you too would suffer punishment according to navy law. It seemed a little harsh to me at the time, but with the benefit of a few more grey hairs I understand it better these days.
I certainly believe that we are all the authors of our own destiny, and responsible for our own actions. Having said that we can also influence many others around us … children, colleagues, staff, friends and family … so I also think that we need to be cognisant of that when we decide what standards to set for ourselves!
Where is your line in the sand?