The Importance of Values in Business

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Seems like any given day you can read an article about misconduct in business. I suppose that is what makes true integrity and ethics such a powerful tool. Follow some simple rules – say what you mean, do what you say, do not cross the line, treat people with respect – and you will find much more ready support throughout your organization and from your customers and prospects, too. In a sense, those basic tenets are the foundation of leadership. I had the good fortune of spending 16 years at GE under the leadership of Jack Welch. He spoke of GE Values, and two of those stay with me today: Integrity and Candor. I believe they go hand-in-hand because candor – calling things as you see them – keeps the organization from getting off track by quickly identifying miscues and avoiding misunderstanding. Integrity – doing the right thing – ensures that everyone is operating above board and without malice. The bonus for achieving true pervasiveness of these two values is eliminating hidden agendas and office politics. I know I have never accomplished this nirvana, but it sure is worth the effort, even if you only get 90% there. Two simple values with an outsize impact on culture and customers perception. That’s worth trying.

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