Sometimes I worry about the next generation because they seem to have more negative forces in their lives than positive ones. The six o’clock news, politics at work, competition in its many forms and the Internet with its unfiltered view of the world. For some of us we have religion as a positive force and we regularly attend the various sessions, services, masses, etc where we listen to someone who has dedicated their entire life to helping people like us determine right from wrong. We don’t have to agree with these people but the act of listening to their views helps us to chart our own course.
Those of us without religion have our inter-personal relationships to help correct our moral compass. I have observed this approach however to be somewhat lacking. In business, it seems to be acceptable to disregard moral issues by saying it’s just business. Especially at senior levels of management. We have read countless stories surrounding the fall of Nortel that talk about reckless spending and payouts to senior management who surly knew that pensioners would suffer from the collapse. I’m sure they would argue that it was all in their contract and it was just business.
I truly believe that a separation of church and state is an essential requirement for a stable society. I also believe that a person cannot abandon morals in the name of business.
Businesses have a responsibility to the people they employ and need to guard against people with big egos, reckless spending and large compensation packages for senior management. I have personally witnessed egos at work in more companies than I though possible. The most successful companies that I have worked at seemed to be able to keep egos in check, but some of the smaller and less successful ones can’t seem to find a balance.
Egos and like forces tend to flourish in environments where there is no moral compass. If we allow a separate set of rules for our business dealings, then we are taking that first step toward the slippery slope. If you are a senior manager that is considering a reorganization because people refuse to work together, you should look very closely at the people involved. Look for honesty, integrity, perseverance, self control and an indomitable spirit. Look at your business and pick the people without the egos, the ones with the knowledge to get the job done and the ones who love what they do.
If you feel too close to the problems to make the right decision, don’t get sucked in by your own ego, seek external help from a neutral third party. People that you want to avoid almost always look good when looking from the top down so ask people who see from the bottom up. More often than not, the people with the bottom up view can clearly spot the problems and they have trouble understanding why nothing is being done to fix them.
In closing I want to encourage everyone to seek positive forces in your life. Talk to the people who dedicate their lives to determining right from wrong, read books, read the views of religious leaders (Most newspapers have sections dedicated to this). Remember that these people are people first and leaders second. I disagree with religious leaders as often as I agree with them, an honest and humble leader will be prepared to defend their views. Avoid circular arguments and seek truth. It really isn’t that hard to find. Constantly adjust your moral compass as you learn and use those morals in all things.