Almost all of us in our leadership roles are looked upon to provide clues for behavior by those who look up to us, whether family members or subordinates in the workplace or even those we associate with as peers, suppliers, or customers.
In your business and personal life, there will be moments that will define you forever in the eyes of those you might not be aware are watching. And nowhere is this more evident in the way you respond to issues where your actions require extraordinary sacrifice financially or in personal ambition.
If a clerk in a store gives you too much change from a sale where you paid cash, do you think before returning the overage? Is your decision effected by whether someone is with you and watching? If an error is made that results in a customer or office superior asking “who could have done this?,” do you step up to take responsibility quickly to avoid casting the focus upon another person? If your company could achieve inordinate short term profit from the lack of knowledge on the other side in a new sale, do you take advantage of the moment and profit from the ignorance of the individual on the other side?
[Email readers, continue here...] The temptation to do these things is great. But in every case the lasting negative effect is worse than the gain temporarily made. For the short term profit in reputation or financial gain, you have established one piece of evidence that you are not living by the golden rule, whether someone is watching or not. And somehow, there is always someone who finds out what you did, even if months later.
On the other hand, think of those individuals you trust to always make the right decision morally and ethically even when at great personal expense. Your respect for that person is unwavering, and you would defend and trust that person if called upon to do so, likely without question.
Your subordinates, employees, family members, and peers are looking to you to measure your moral compass and perhaps to point their way as well as yours. “Good people finish first” is a statement that requires a leap of faith that in the end, those that take advantage of others almost always find themselves behind those who step forward to do the right thing.
Start or maintain your business life with an unwavering moral compass. Doing so is not the quickest way to profit, but the most honorable and ultimately most rewarding in so many ways.