In the last few months, I’ve quit, two different business activities. Even though, both were serving me and my business well!
In the summer, I quit attending a series of trainings I had signed up for and was learning much from. Then last week, I quit a networking group I have attended for well over a year.
On both occasions, what I signed up for was being delivered, and both I (personally) and we (professionally) benefited.
However, I became aware, of a significant and jarring difference in the standards by which we operate. And it eventually resulted in no longer being aligned!
Whilst, in modern-day purely ceremonial functions, as far back as Roman warfare and medieval warfare the standard-bearer had an important role on the battlefield. The standard-bearer acted as an indicator of where the position of a military unit was, with the bright, colourful standard or flag acting as a strong visual beacon to surrounding soldiers. Soldiers were typically ordered to follow and stay close to the standard or flag in order to maintain unit cohesion, and for a single commander to easily position his troops by only positioning his standard-bearer, typically with the aid of musical cues or loud verbal commands. It was and remains an incredibly honourable position. And one carrying a considerable risk, as a standard-bearer would be a major target for the opposing side’s troops seeking to capture the standard or pull it down.
This is also reflected in the context of the Olympic Games. The flagbearer is the athlete who has been chosen to represent their country at the opening and closing ceremonies by carrying the flag of their country and leading their country’s athletes, coaches, and aides.
So what are business standards?
Company standards refer to a set of values, performance benchmarks, and beliefs. All of these components make up the character of the business. Look at it much like you would the personality of a person. They are a significant determinant of how other people view or form an opinion about your brand.
Management standards are a critical component of running a business. It determines the level of trust and credibility amongst different stakeholders. Such include customers, employees, suppliers, and the public at large. They are also business guidelines that determine every process you make in the company.
Management standards cover a wide area. You look at performance, quality standards, safety, and testing, to name a few. The entrepreneur must come up with a set of rules that everyone must follow.
There are two facets to setting up business management standards.
The first is how you, as an individual, want to run your company. It is voluntary but goes towards establishing greater confidence amongst customers. Deciding to use local ingredients in a restaurant is a personal decision. The law cannot come after you if you decide to source your ingredients elsewhere, including internationally.
The second complies with regulatory authority guidelines. If you are in the medical field, it is a rule that practitioners have the relevant certification. It is a regulatory requirement and breaching such can result in legal repercussions.
Values/Standards – what’s the difference?
Values help us live with direction and purpose – like a guiding compass. Whatever is going on in our lives, our values can show us a path forward, and help us make better choices. Values are also intimately linked to our sense of self, and they’re essential for our mental health.
Values may be expressed as a stand-alone statement and form part of an authority’s code of conduct. Standards describe acceptable workplace behaviour and help guide the practical application of values. Standards are usually set in a code of conduct or similar.
The British Army Leadership Code is founded on Values. To them: Courage, Discipline, Respect for Others, Integrity, Loyalty, and Selfless Commitment are much more than words on a page, they are what the British Army stands for, and what sets us apart from society at large.
I may no longer be a serving soldier, but forever a veteran. I was introduced to, engaged with, accepted, and now live by a set of standards to which all future decisions are made. Based on Ethics, Sustainable growth, Active Listening, and Win | Win | Win outcomes.
So, why did I quit?
Well, because despite benefiting from their services, once we had learnt about HOW they do business, I realised this doesn’t align with our values of how WE do business.
You may ask: But surely as long as they are living within THEIR values, why does that matter? Surely. YOUR values are for you, not to ‘cast’ on all others?
Well, that may be true, until it’s not! You see, Like attracts Like. We ultimately want to do business with people like us! And, once you have learnt something that doesn’t meet the same standard/values match as yourself, it begins to bring into question your belief in that value, how important it is to you, and whether are you compromising on it, by continuing to ‘support’ someone else with differing views of the world?
Trust me, I’m not saying we are always right. And it’s important we use these opportunities to reflect, go back to our own standards, principles, and values and centre check to determine why we believe what we believe.
But, once you have done so, ACTION is required. Either to review and revise your own beliefs (and understand what caused a change in them) or to DEMONSTRATE your own values by living by them – ALWAYS.
My final comment here is regarding 9-5…
We may (I chose not to) dress in a certain way “For work” we may choose to act (I also chose not to) in a certain way “whilst at work” we may (accidentally or purposefully) create a WORK persona. Something we ‘step into’ as we leave the front door, and leave outside as we return home.
I know, that as a serving soldier it was imperative for me to be able to do this effectively. My wife and son didn’t require the skills, mannerisms, and behaviours of a Rapid Deployment Soldier around the home. Likewise, my deployment team didn’t require a husband or father. There was a need, to ‘switch on’ and ‘switch off’ the various attributes of each role. But, one thing that remained constant throughout was my attitudes and behaviours. My VALUES towards Courage, Discipline, Respect for Others, Integrity, Loyalty, and Selfless Commitment remained (and remain) constant.
What Standards / Values does your business uphold? and how do you demonstrate this to others?
One of the things I’ve observed in the last 18 months or so, is how more and more people are telling white lies!
I’m not calling people liars – we’ve all been guilty of not wanting to admit the real reason we are late to attend the endless zoom meetings was “I needed the loo”. But there appears to be a growing urge to tell everyone “everything’s fine” when clearly it’s not!
Social media (and people’s addiction to it) has seen endless scrolling of “Success stories” with people draped over expensive cars, scantily clad exotic holiday pics, and sumptuous surroundings whilst out for dinner. Viewers see this as a personal challenge against their own microwave tea, and a race to do better!
And so, the lies begin. It’s not intentional, but a ‘social necessity‘ to fit in, to be someone to be accepted!
However, what is even worse than this, is the lies we are told and those we tell ourselves!
Meaning, mastery and money are all essential in today’s business environment. Meaning and mastery will lead to more money. Many small business owners instinctively do these things, but most business advisers only focus on the money. They tell their clients to make the money first, then they can invest in mastering their business and making meaning in their community and life. Unfortunately, that sets up a cycle that never gets them there. Instead, business owners need to be encouraged to invest in meaning and mastery from the beginning.
Most small business owners are very good at the work of their business. As Michael Gerber says, “they are technicians who get an entrepreneurial twitch”. Usually in response to working for another technician who had an entrepreneurial twitch. This means they are not clear on what it means to run a business.
In reality, most small business owners are freelancers, (or as Gerber refers) Business Operators not owners of businesses. And yet so many Business Advisors are pushing them to act like a business?
Let’s have a look at these pervasive lies
You have to wear many hats
This perpetuates the myth that business owners have to do it all. Even worse is the myth that they have to know and understand it all. Who can possibly know all that? This is the single worst bit of advice ever given and it is what makes small business owners feel inadequate.
The most important hat a small business owner needs to wear is the sales hat. Making sales is what defines a business. Making sales will pull a struggling business into the black. Making sales is the crucial first step to everything else that follows. The best advice to give small business owners is to go make sales.
After they are making sales, teach them the strategy of the business and how to lead a team, not how to do everything in business. Offering ‘all you need to know workshops’ on how to do bookkeeping, marketing, project planning, hiring/firing etc, lull our business owners into thinking that all they have to do is execute on the tactics properly in order to succeed. We should be telling our business owners to get help as often and as early as possible.
Yes, it’s good to know what needs to be done, but not to know every last detail of how to do it. To move from Business Operator to Business Owner we must know enough to find the right person to do it!
The worst ways a beginning business owner can be spending their days is in designing their business cards or a poster or trying to set up their bookkeeping.
“Only once the owner has made the physical, mental and emotional switch from operator to the owner can the business thrive”
Starting business owners don’t have enough money to invest in themselves or their business
So advisors touting for clients, give them yet another free 101 workshop. Telling them a million and one things that they must do in order to grow their business. Whereas the reality is it is keeping them central to the business and forcing them back into a JOB.
The most successful small business owners I meet are the ones who invest in themselves early and often. They understand their strengths and they outsource the rest. They know the highest and best use of their time is in talking to and serving customers.
And advisors often tell them, “by the way your time isn’t worth very much”. A good friend who runs a bookkeeping business, tells people directly: They can do your bookkeeping faster than you can worry about it. And It is true. Yet Eventbrite is full of Advisors and Accountants giving Business Owners 3-hour workshops on how to do their bookkeeping, then expect them to take a couple of Sunday afternoons a month to do it.
Or they could outsource it to a bookkeeper for around £100pm And it would be right. Plus they got advice from a professional who does bookkeeping for a living.
Instead, so many still do an inferior job, that takes them three times longer and often leads to either the wrong or poor results WHILST keeping them away from customers/prospects and earning more money! Because they went on a course!
Finally, that’s assuming they need bookkeeping done on a regular basis, which most didn’t.
Most Advisors don’t teach them how to engage professionals early. Instead, they suggest that when they get big enough, they can hire a marketing expert to take care of their marketing. What they really need, is to hire a professional to help them refine their message. A professional has the experience to tease out the words and message that matters. Never mind about flyers, radio or podcasts. Get the message right first.
Marketing, finance, operations, and HR are the fundamentals of business
Maybe. If you have a big business with a division of people with expertise to take on each functional area. Again, no one person can master all of these. These are functional areas of business, the understanding and management of which makes the running of the company work better. but they come after, much after the customer is clearly defined, the problem your offer is solving is nailed and you are ready to scale up in a big way. Having all of these perfectly in place will give you a well-run company, not necessarily a successful one.
Business development takes several years of talking to customers, testing offers and making sales. Until then, the focus is on doing the work of the business, not managing a company.
During the first couple of years, bookkeeping and financial information are only needed to file taxes. It’s more important for our business owners to be agile, to experiment and always be testing. Financial Statements are backwards looking documents and they only track money. For instance, it’s not enough to know the impact on revenue of changing prices. It’s more important to know who the new pricing attracts and repels, the cost of delivering on the new pricing and the change in expectations.
The message, loud and clear is, that you must learn this stuff and do it yourself FIRST. It’s good for you because then you get to understand your business from the ground up. The truth is that struggling to do a bad job at a task you are not suited to is not good for you. Doing a bad job at copywriting doesn’t help you understand your marketing message. We should encourage our business owners to hire professional help, so they get a professional result.
Profit is the most important number
Big business uses many metrics, not just profit, to run their business and yet we tell small businesspeople that if they do their bookkeeping, they have their numbers covered. The most important metrics to track may not be on the financial statements.
For the first couple of years, spending is going to be distorted towards start-up costs. Every available penny is put back into the business to help it grow. A true picture of the financial health of the company won’t emerge for a few years, yet. As a Coach, my job is to help the business owner manage their money and their cash flow and in giving them tools to evaluate the opportunities that will help them grow their business.
The business won’t settle enough to show trends emerging out of the noise until several years in. Focus on what’s really important like landing another £5000 a year customer, not saving £20 a month on the phone.
A business plan is crucial before you start a business
We’ve all said it “Fail to plan and you plan to fail.” What about “No plan survives first contact with customers”?
Creating a business plan is premature before a single sale is made. It can’t be done until customers are identified, what they want and how they want it. These questions can’t be answered at a desk. They can only be answered by talking to customers. When that step is done properly, the business is up and running and the business owner’s time is best spent on making sales, delivering, and testing.
For instance, Ben comes to you wanting to open a pet store. The first task you set him should be to send him out to find his first 5 customers to find out what they really need and want. If Ben can’t do that or isn’t willing to do that, then all the ‘entrepreneurial traits’ tests won’t help, and the best-laid business plans won’t make the business a success.
That goes double for marketing plans. The first year should be devoted to sales and not marketing. We all know 100 people, who know 100 people, etc. Fifty pet owners spending £50/ month will give Ben a base upon which to build. That takes sales, not marketing. Those sales should be well underway before signing a lease and paying for inventory.
The business plan focuses on financial projections, market analysis and demographic customer analysis. That’s great if you know who your customers are, which you can’t know if you don’t have any. The best way to do a market analysis is to spend a week selling into that marketplace, not a week spent searching statistics and playing with spreadsheets.
We should encourage a focus on business models, feedback loops and pivots. Then on customer engagement, automation rollouts or scaling. When our business owner is ready for scaling up, hiring and financing, then that’s when an executable business plan should be written.
They attend workshops on how to be more productive and on time management, but not on courage. Any person having procrastination issues is dealing with fear, not the wrong method for managing to do’s. The greatest service we can give our business owners is to name it and help them deal with fear and courage.
Most teach business owners how to do all the work of running a business instead:
We should be helping them focus on what not to do as much as what to do. On causing things to get done rather than doing them. The “Really busy” answer to the question, “How are you doing?” has become a badge of honour. We let them get away with that. We tell them we appreciate them taking time away from their busy day to meet with us.
We should demand, not just encourage our business owners to take time away, time to think every day. We should make it clear that they are the most important piece of their starting business and therefore looking after themselves is vital to business success. We should encourage them to meet for coffee and masterminding regularly.
Working harder on the wrong things won’t get better results, it will only get our business owners to burn out!
But even worse, here are the top 6 lies Business Owners tell themselves
“I can’t afford it….”
As in, “I can’t afford to pay someone £20-30 per hour on this task.” While on the surface this lie sounds like you are concerned about your budget and their bottom line. What it really means is that they aren’t confident enough in your ability to create higher-value items/services. This could be because they feel that you lack the skills to do anything of higher value or it could be a cry for help time management-wise, as they don’t then know what they would do with the time they have gained back!
“I don’t have the time…”
They spend their day putting out fires and handling other people’s tasks. Is it any wonder that they don’t have time to grow your business? Business owners have to Stop telling themselves that they don’t have time and start looking at exactly what they are spending their time on. Are they high-value tasks or are you putting out fires?
“No one can do it as well as I can…”
This lie is code for: “I can’t delegate that kind of authority, what if they make a bad decision? What if they mess up a client relationship?” Of course, there are different levels of delegation based on the experience set and abilities of a team member, but business owners who instinctively hold tight to the reins of all decisions and authority in their business end up being owned by their businesses.
“Let me check my diary and get back to you…”.
This is the lie we tell ourselves instead of facing the harsh reality of our dependent relationship with our business. Whereas what they are actually saying is: “I want to sound busy, but the reality is I’m not confident to move forward yet!”
“I’ll just wait and see what happens…”
As in, “I know I have a real staff issue, but I’ll just wait and see if things straighten out on their own first because I don’t have the competence or confidence to address it.” When you have a real issue, deal with it. Immediately. Don’t let it linger or fester while you “hope” it will resolve itself. Why do so many entrepreneurs do this? Because they are not willing to face the temporary discomfort, usually emotional discomfort, of meeting the moment directly.
“I am not making any progress….”
If the first five lies weren’t bad enough, perhaps the worst lie of all is when you tell yourself that you aren’t making any progress in your business. You find yourself saying “Argh well. Next time….” Stop and celebrate your victories. Don’t deny the results or downplay your successes. Savour the moment and take in your progress.
What’s The Answer
The sooner business owners get out of the building’, talk to customers and make sales, the sooner they will get over the fear. The sooner they understand their role is not to know everything, but to find and partner/recruit/JV with those who do. The sooner they begin sharing not only the successes but the problems they face and ASK FOR HELP. The sooner they will make REAL and LASTING progress.
Yes, it’s hard and yes, there will be resistance, for which every coach must be ready and prepared. However, by working with a coach to overcome these, you will be stronger, more capable, and more resilient it.
One of the very best ways of achieving this is through Mastermind.
At the time of recording this, I’ve had the privilege of being involved in Mastermind for 17 years and now host mastermind groups both on and offline. They truly are a most remarkable and unique place, where magic happens.
When ego is left at the door, and innocents enters. When bravado and BS are left at home, and vulnerability takes a seat. When every individual present recognises that Together Everyone Achieve More. It enables owners to ask, share, learn together and benefit from each other’s knowledge, experience, qualification, and strengths. In every mastermind, business owners encourage, support, and hold to account for each other for the progress and direction each is taking.
We all know business is changing – the way customers engage, the way it’s delivered, and even the way people pay. Shouldn’t the support you access change too?
Here at My TrueNORTH, The Ethical Coaching Company, we support Business Owners to Significantly and Sustainable grow both themselves and their businesses, by hosting a series of Mastermind Groups.
Hosted both online and in person, these groups are the catalyst for more and more business owners to #addazero. Whether it is the mindset/motivation or vision of the business owner, through to the systems, processes and people required to run the business. From marketing management to sales certainty, our proven 8 elements are fundamental to the ongoing growth and success of all those who attend.
Today is a day I never considered would happen – but it has!
I can’t put an ‘actual date’ on when I began coaching? You see, long before I ever qualified as a coach, had I continually learned, practiced, and shared my learning with others, that they may benefit also. Throughout the running of my last FOUR businesses, I’ve forever asked, empowered, supported others within the team to excel in their forte.
Prior to that, in my time in change management within the PLC world, I was forever asking, probing, enquiring with others as to how they could continually improve, offer up a new idea and take charge of implementing them. And prior to that, throughout my Military career, qualified as an Adult Education Teacher, and continually learned and then shared with others.
So, it was both an honour and privilege in 2014 to be nominated (and subsequently won) a Kauffman Institute Global Entrepreneur ‘Big Impact to Business’ Award, for the work we were doing in researching and sharing the cause of Big Business Failure.
Then, a year later, I was flown to the US, to present our findings to the Kauffman Insititute and many of their entrepreneurship scholars, only for them once again to acknowledge the level of content we shared and its impact it had on the audience. By awarding the event as a Global ‘Big Impact to Business’ Event.
And, in 2017 I was invited by one of the United Kingdom’s largest investment management companies to an event, at which we were added to their ‘Clear Business Thinking’ POWER 100 list recognised for the Ethics to which we both operate and share with our clients.
However, early today I have been bestowed with an acknowledgment that gladly takes pride of place amongst all of these other accolades!
For as long as I’ve been in Business – Ralph Watson’s name has been synonymous with the professional coaching fraternity. A well-established and highly respected figure throughout not only the UK coaching community but worldwide. Having forged a coaching career over four continents and almost four decades.
As Founder of the International Association of Profesional Coaching, The APC grew out of the realisation that a great many people in the coaching profession are seeking a membership body to join that offers something different from that currently available. It is the passionate belief in the immense potential of every human being and the tremendous support that high-quality coaching, training, and personal development intervention offers in helping people to achieve that potential that underpins our work and our commitment to building something more than just a membership organisation; a supportive and sustaining community.
The APC has become an independent professional membership body dedicated to promoting and supporting the highest levels of quality, professionalism, and ethics in the fields of coaching, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and allied disciplines, such as hypnosis, at an INTERNATIONAL level, with a growing membership from across the world of those seeking to join, and benefit from such an organisation.
Ralph and I have known each other for a good many years, originally meeting through both being professional keynote speakers on the Euro-circuit. And subsequently, as fellow coaches and NLP practitioners, attending many of the same events, either as speakers, workshop facilitators, or delegates. I have long supported the work of both Ralph and the APC, and benefited both personally and professionally from both Ralph and the APC.
Ralph and I had arranged to meet this morning, for what I thought was for me to share more with him, regarding the progress we are making in preparing to license the methodology enabling other suitably qualified and experienced coaches to offer this also.
However, Ralph clearly had an alternate agenda!
You see, whilst I’ve closely followed both Ralph and the APC, He has also been following the progress and contribution we have been making!
“I am delighted to confirm the invitation to Fellowship with the Association for Professional Coaching. This position is by invitation only and is extended in recognition of your ongoing contribution to ethical and professional coaching and work in this field.”
I have written extensively about the power of awards. I continually encourage my clients, to be more conscious of the impact they have in the world, and to stop and acknowledge recognition when it is given. And whilst qualifications and experience are both essential, both can be learned and earned, but neither automatically make you nor determine you are ‘good’ at your job.
Being nominated for any form of achievement or public recognition is a significant and important milestone. Becoming a finalist and even a winner even more so. To be ‘measured’ against others, and determined by either a judging panel of experts or our peers as having ‘tipped’ the balance is a huge moment. However, today has brought a tear to my eye. To be personally invited to accept the highest level of recognition from an independent but global organisation specifically designed to support the professional standards within our industry is for me the highest accolade one could ever have hoped to achieve.
It is with immense gratitude and as much humility as I can muster, that I proudly share: From this day forward, I am now a Fellow of the International Association of Profesional Coaching.
Harsh? Maybe, but the fact is too many business owners are ‘playing safe’ within their business, and it’s crippling their true potential!
Our research clearly shows that 80% of business owners are wrong about EVERYTHING! – In every industry and every sector, you can segment any business into 5 categories, from those who are ‘nailing it’ and smashing all the goals and targets, to those who are failing and on the verge of closure! The scary thing is, 80% of businesses are at the wrong end of this scale.
Fear of failure
Fear of success
Fear of change
Fear of the unknown
Fear plays a HUGE part in business owners NOT making the BIG moves to significantly and sustainably SCALE their business. And with all good reason!
Throughout your upbringing, the majority of adults spent a minimum of 13 years (some almost 20) in education
Before you purchased your first car, you spent hours and hours and hours learning how to drive
And yet when it comes to setting up, owning, growing/scaling and successfully exiting a business, less than 2% of business owners have ever received any designated training on how to achieve this!
And so, whilst many start with rather grandiose plans for what success means to them. The majority slowly revise their thinking, dampen their expectation, and accept a life of early mornings, late nights, evenings and weekends in the pretence running your own business gives you a sense of freedom!
But surely there is another way?
Yes, of course, there is. It’s called investing in YOU.
If YOU are the most important thing in YOUR life? (And if your not, you jolly well ought to be) and the plans, goals, aspirations and dreams ARE what you want (and deserve) for you, your family, your future? Then, just like your education, and driving) shouldn’t you invest a little time and money in learning what it takes to achieve more!
Outcomes = Action + Thought
Or in other words, your thoughts drive your actions, your actions create the results. Therefore, if you want a different outcome, it starts with a different level of thinking.
Two GREAT quotes from einstein include:
“Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and again, still hoping for a different outcome”
“You will never overcome a problem, using the same level of thinking, as that which created it”
Isn’t it time to learn a new level of thinking? in order to create a new level of results? Below are 7 steps to creating your BFHAG! And within the first comment, an invitation to join me next Monday for a FREE TO ATTEND #ADDAZERO ScaleUp masterclass.
I had the distinct pleasure and disgust this weekend to watch the multi BAFTA / AACTA award-winning Netflix documentary “Sherpa” this weekend! – The true story following New Zealand Tour guide Russell Brice and Sherpa Phurba Tashi during the period of the 2014 disaster leading to the loss of 16 Sherpa’s.
Having previously watched a number of documentaries around climbers, mountaineering and various other films including Everest, K2 and Meru. I was keen to see this documentary and to learn more of the Nepalese people, the sacred origins of the rock and how they had been depicted throughout the film.
And whilst there is some great cinematography, and incredible views, it became quickly and abundantly apparent of the disparity between the story of the Nepalese Sherpa, and the blatant selfishness, arrogant, ignorance of the white middle class “Guest” who claims to have ‘trained for months’ to be worked with hot towels and waited on with Tea/Coffee whilst the Sherpa is paid a pittance to work through the night carrying their every luxury across moving ice rivers to each stage of their resting area prior to being led to ‘their’ summit!
This was a beautiful yet tragic, terrifying, and revealing documentary that shows the undeniable differences in values and attitudes between the Nepalese culture and beliefs and the west’s insatiable desire for thrill, adventure, and self-glorification at any cost.
At one point (less than a week) after 16 Sherpa’s are killed whilst transporting masses of equipment, including flatscreen TV’s, books and bookcases, heaters, marquees, etc through the night from ‘BaseCamp 1’ to ‘BaseCamp 2’ ahead of the fee-paying westerns rising to hot towels and coffee in bed, ready to be led from 1 to the other. The Sherpa’s finally determine ‘enough is enough’. They have been persecuted for generations by westerners seeing them as slaves to command at their beck and call. And the loss of so many of their family, friends, colleagues, with such little regard shown by the tourists, pushes them over the edge.
A meeting is called, and they determine only if they stand in solidarity and refuse to climb will both the tourists and the government listen to their plea for better conditions, better wages, and compensation. They refuse to ‘walk over the dead’ of whom have just perilously lost their lives before them, and instead state ‘out of respect for them and their families, they will forgo any further earnings that year and return home’.
Instead of acknowledgement and support, or any offer of compensation, an American lawyer, annoyed because the expedition cannot go ahead, calls the Sherpa climbers “terrorists” and wonders why their “owners” don’t get rid of the ones who don’t want to climb out of respect of the 16 deaths. And whilst privately Brice suggests to the Sherpa’s he is there to support them, and ‘respects their wishes’. When confronted by the “devastation” of not being able to climb up a hill! rather than stand up and defend his employee’s right to Health and Safety, Equality, Fair pay, he joins his fee-paying western clients saying they are militant trouble makers, that should be punished.
It’s a really well-made film, that depicts the stark contrast between western and Nepalese morals and values. With the Sherpa, one of the Tibetan ethnic groups native to the most mountainous regions of Nepal, Tingri County, and the Himalayas. And their 3000+ heritage of culture, Gods, and traditions. And how, like their ancestors of high altitude farmers, have transitioned to the perilous, subservience of the middle-class western tourist who calls themselves ‘mountaineers’ and yet hasn’t got the first clue about the hardship of high altitude mountaineering, because of their ongoing demands and expectations of all the creator comforts of a 5* hotel, at 22,000 feet above sea level!
My questions to you on reading this, are:
Have you watched the film? And what did you take from this?
If you haven’t, will you? Based on what I have shared?
Whether you have or not, What are you going to DO TODAY in regards to this?
Where does your moral compass point these days? What are you doing to WEAR your values with pride? How do you reflect these. in all you do? and what do others know of what you stand for?
Now is NOT the time to say, it’s nothing to do with me. NOW is the time to self-examine who we are, what. we do, whom we do it with and the impact it has in our community, our profession our world.
At a time where business is tough, everyone is feeling the post lockdown pinch and we are all seeking that quick boost to finish the year with a high. I ask Do Ethics Matter?
Well, as our own company strap-line is the UK’s Leading Ethical Coaching Company,
I’m often asked what does that actually mean?
Yet to answer that, perhaps we ought to start by agreeing on:
What are Ethics?
At its simplest, ethics is a system of moral principles. Ethics is concerned with what is good for individuals and society, which can often also be described as moral philosophy. The term is derived from the Greek word ethos which can mean custom, habit, character or disposition.
What are Business Ethics?
By definition, business ethics are the moral principles that act as guidelines for the way a business conducts itself and its transactions. In many ways, the same guidelines that individuals use to conduct themselves in an acceptable way, in personal and professional settings; apply to businesses as well.
Acting ethically ultimately means determining what is “right” and what is “wrong.” Basic standards exist around the world that dictate what is wrong or unethical in terms of business practices. For example, unsafe working conditions are generally considered unethical because they put workers in danger. An example of this is a crowded work floor with only one means of exit. In the event of an emergency (such as fire) workers could become trapped or might be trampled on as everyone heads for the only means of escape.
Likewise, knowingly defrauding employees of entitlement, owing to either lack of education of sharing of information would also constitute poor ethical judgement.
While some unethical business practices are obvious, around the world they do still occur as peoples perception of what is acceptable differ widely.
Determining what practices are ethical or not is more difficult to determine if they exist in a grey area where the lines between ethical and unethical can become blurred or undetermined by best business practice, and what is considered ‘acceptable’.
For example, a company that exploits their marketing prowess across social media to capture data with the sole intent to manipulate peoples thinking (or voting patterns in the case of Cambridge Analytica) was determined that whilst no CRIME had been committed in doing so, the impact of such resulted in the first ever time a company has been tried in a court of law where this was considered ‘psychological warfare!’.
The THREE parts to Understanding Business Ethics
To truly break down business ethics, it’s important to understand the three basic components that the term can be dissected into.
The first part is the history. While the idea of business ethics came into existence along with the creation of the first companies or organisations, what is most often referred to by the term is its recent history since the early 1970s. This was when the term became commonly used the world over. The main principles of business ethics are based in academia and on academic writings on proper business operations. Basic ethical practices have been gleaned through research and practical study of how businesses function, and how they operate, both independently and with one another. In this sense, the considerations and theories are based around the aspects of ‘fair play’ and what is considered the ‘norm’ on how companies operate.
The second major meaning behind the term is derived from its close relationship and usage when scandals occur. Companies selling goods that were created using child labour or poor working conditions is one such scandalous occurrence which has led to being labelled as poor ethical standards. Likewise, the exploitation of people because of their colour, creed, sexuality, religion are now considered either illegal or at least poor ethical standards.
Other examples of this, are where a business professes to support one thing, whilst clearly practicing something else.
Such as businesses that claim to have environmentally friendly products/services/practices, whilst knowingly shipping their waste to other parts of the world to create the mass landfill mountains we now see many living on within places like India and China.
Perhaps the most recent and continually developing aspect of ethics is the third piece – the idea that companies are building business ethics into the core of their companies, making them a standard part of their operational blueprint.
As the world continues to grow more political (and more politically correct) an increased focus on the width and depth of business ethics and strong adherence to them become ever more scrutinised.
Business ethics are important for every company. They keep workers safe, help trade and interactions between companies remain honest and fair, and generally make for better goods and services. Distinguishing what a company will and won’t stand for is not always the same for each organisations, but knowing basic ethical guidelines is a key component of company management.
I firmly believe these are the 7 key principles of ethics in business
Honesty: The willingness and openness to remain honest.
Integrity: Doing what is ‘right’ not just what is ‘expected’.
Promise-Keeping & Trustworthiness: Setting and living up to expectation
Loyalty: Remaining true to People not just Profit
Fairness: Demonstrating a ‘live and let live’ culture, not winner takes all
Concern/Respect for Others: Recognising impact and supporting communities
Law Abiding: Both Criminal, Civil and Moral!
Within My TrueNORTH, we firmly believe The following principles will help any leader grow their business impact far beyond that of a happy share holder!
Practice taking the Second Step
Go a little further. Always do more than anticipated and expected. Surprise others by paying attention to the little things that others don’t. Be different.
A principle that is helpful in building a business is the principle of going the second mile. Good companies develop a second-mile mentality. In business, we need to separate ourselves so that others can see our business more clearly.
Too many companies expect second-mile results without giving second-mile effort. It is always a good idea to do more than expected.
The Golden rule works, If you work it
Make People First Things. Think of others first. Treat others like you want to be treated. Practice thoughtfulness. When you think of the customers, they will think of you.
Many great businesses use this principle as the foundation for their business. The concept is to consider others first. The wise business leader and business will always treat others as they would like to be treated. – Companies that don’t think of their customers will not be thought of by their customers.
Focus on profit with a Purpose
Know your priorities. Live life and run your business with purpose and vision. Profit is powerful. Profit used well can lead to both success and significance. Attract others to your Mission and your Dream. Always Explain your Why.
Every successful business creates profits. It is often quoted in business circles that you don’t have a business until you have a profit. Every company has been established and designed to create a profit. However, Ethical Business leaders understand that the wrong profit can be damaging. There is little point in owning all the wealth in the world, if nobody is willing to accept your coin. Therefore, whilst profit is Good, Profit used for Good is Better
Know you’re Yeses and Your No’s.
Be decisive and make great decisions. Make decisions based on values. Know You “No’s.” Say Yes to those things that will make you and organisation better. Live up to your Word. Make your signature mean something. Fulfil your commitments.
Great Decisiveness is a key to influential leadership. People cannot follow a person that doesn’t know where they are going or why they are going in that direction. The power to say yes or no quickly means that you know where you are going and what you are trying to accomplish. Make your words mean something. Develop and build trust relationships by conveying to others that they can count on you and your commitments.
Many leaders lose their influence with others because they commit to aspirational yeses. Leaders must know their “no’s” and be quick to say yes or no definitively with purpose, consistence and in line with the values of the business.
Make the move From Owner to Overseer
Practice steward leadership. Use the resources wisely. An essential shift for Ethical business leaders is moving from ownership to stewardship. True success comes not from what you achieve, but in the legacy, you leave behind to others. It should be the desire of every Ethical business owner to be recognised not for what they own, but what they helped others to achieve.
Trust the law of sowing and reaping
Sow liberally. Be generous with your seeds. Plant daily. Be constantly trying new things. Don’t be afraid to start small. Practice patience.
Laws of life can be trusted because they have been proven through time. Successful businesses know and trust the law of sowing and reaping. Remember, a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” Don’t be afraid of starting with a small seed. The harvest you are reaping today is from the seeds that you planted yesterday.
Believe and ask for the Impossible
Dream Big Impossible Dreams. Set big goals. Stretch yourself and your team. Find new ways to look at old problems. Embrace belief. Everything great starts with a dream. The world is better when people dream big and believe that impossible things can happen. Challenge yourself to ask “what if” questions and use your imagination to see the world in new and different ways. People desires to be with leaders and organisations who have big visions. to A big vision inspires and attracts. Supersize your thoughts and your beliefs. What seems impossible to one, is possible with many.
Build to the 3rd or 4th Generation
Work on big projects, not for now, but for the future. Always do the right thing. Know your core values and beliefs. Be forward thinking. Make decisions with tomorrow in mind. Prepare for the future by making the right decision today.
Don’t waste time building things that won’t last the test of time. Building on the right foundation will help your business stand through the storms of market changes. A key to building a great business is to act with integrity in all situations. Integrity means doing the right thing in all situations at all times. Martin Luther King Jr. taught that “The time
is always right to do what is right.” Businesses that are built on a solid foundation are built to last generations. Companies that lack a solid foundation are built on slippery ground that can crumble at any time. – Our destiny unfolds in the future, but it is shaped by the decisions that we make today.
Know the order of things and Work the Order
Strive for clarity. Know your priorities. Order is important. When a leader understands the order of things, things become easier to understand. A great principle to practice in business is to focus on first things. When a leader understands the order of things, things can become easier to understand. A leader must be clear and push for clarity in all things.
Improve your Team to improve your Organisation
Find the right and best people to bring around you. Make people your top priority. Learn from everyone. Spend time with a wise team of mentors. Learn faster by learning from others. Ask questions and listen. Seek counsel. Help people to discover their gifts and talents. Find passionate and reliable people.
Great leaders learn from others to learn faster. You need a team around you to inspire you and help you build something bigger than you can build alone. No great leader ever led alone. Find your passion and add passionate people to your team. A passionate person is worth four regular people. Passionate people perform better. In fact, not only have they formed with a purpose, every person on their team has been formed with a purpose. When a company finds the gifts and passions of their people and discern how to release those passions then higher productivity is enjoyed by the person and the company. Passionate people are reliable people. The wisdom of others can be powerful. Every great leader has at least one advisor. However, many business leaders try to do things all on their own. In fact, it is often said that it is lonely at the top. It is only lonely at the top if you are trying to lead alone. Steward leaders believe in the power of others. – When your people get better your organisation gets better.
Do things today that will impact today AND tomorrow
Invest wisely. Don’t forget to invest in yourself. Make the right investments to help the business to grow. Invest in your people. Invest to grow your commitment and your passion.
Leaders are called to lead with passion or all of their heart. Therefore, a leader must make investments wisely.
Leaders in businesses are called upon to make many investments. A leader must make use of the resources of the company to make the right investments in the business, people, and infrastructure. When businesses are invested in wisely, the business will grow. Good investments set the direction and the path of a business to ensure its growth and development. When a business is neglected, it is doomed to shrink and die.
Work to Well Done
Excellent work is worthy work. Do everything for a bigger purpose and a noble cause. Innovate. Always improve and strive to make products and service better. Always Upgrade and Improve. Think long term. Show Your Value Through Products and Services that are of High Quality.
Building a business on these principles requires a change of perspective. One attitude that is essential for Ethical Leaders is to practice excellence at all times and in all situations. When you work towards excellence in everything you are on your way to hearing the “well done” from your employees, your customers, and all who are impacted by it.
I’d love to hear your feedback on this, and whether you think ethics really are the very heart of every thriving business?
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