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Daily Leadership Thought #187 – Decisions Have Consequences

There seems to be a dearth of good strong corporate values these days (and basic common sense).  While the objective of any business should be to make a solid profit, it should also be to build long term sustaining economic value that accurately reflects the risks inherent in its internal and external environments.  The best way to navigate these risks is to have a strong sense of who you are and what you will and will not do.   There are no shortages of opportunities or landmines out there. However, I’ve always believed that what defines a leader and his/her business is what they say “NO” to.

Sometimes the reasons for saying no are obvious such as an unattractive return on investment, declining market potential or product obsolescence.    More often that not the rationale isn’t always so clear.  It’s equally important to weigh considerations such as what will be the impact of the decision on our employees and/or the community; how will the outcome ultimately benefit the consumer/end user; what will be the ramifications for our strategic partners and vendors; and will we be substituting short term gain at the expense of long term sustainability.  In addition, many decisions can have moral or ethical dimensions like not paying a fair share of your tax burden, the potential impact of your actions on the environment, safety and health concerns, and the use of child labor.

It seems to me that many of our leaders are saying YES to things they should have said NO to.  Whether it is rushing an automobile through an assembly line at the expense of quality control; creating financial instruments that actually hedge against the interest of their own clients; putting mine workers in potentially unsafe and life threatening situations;  not adequately protecting the personal and financial records of your clients; the improper maintenance and conditions of  off shore oil rigs;  manufacturing profits overseas to avoid paying US taxes; or as a government continuing to spend money you don’t have and piling up a debt burden that will haunt future generations.

All decisions and actions have consequences. The larger the number of people who will be affected by your decisions, the more carefully you must make these decisions by weighing the pros and cons and considering the inherent risks.  Profit is good, healthy balance sheets are good, positive cash flow is good.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of successfully run businesses.  What I shutter at these days is the lack of basic core values and fundamental common sense.  It is never advisable to win on the cheap or at the expense of someone else’s personal well being.  You can do well by doing good!  In fact, it should be preferable to operate a business in this manner.

One Response

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