Values Do Matter

Issue 1 and Volume 102.

Values Do Matter

By John C. Zink, Ph.D., P.E.,

Managing Editor

At December`s POWER-GEN International Meeting in Dallas, Former Notre Dame Football Coach

Lou Holt¥gave an inspiring talk outlining what he thinks are the important personal characteristics needed for success in business as well as in life, in general. Drawing on his own experience in the highly competitive (What an understatement!) world of major college football, Holtz`s theme was that success depends upon each person`s deeply held values. These values can be revealed in each person`s answers to three questions:

1. Can I trust you?

2. Are you committed to excellence?

3. Do you care about me?

I couldn`t help but reflect on these questions during this time of year when we think of making new beginnings, and many of us are struggling to keep our New Year`s resolutions. What would the world be like if we all could truly answer “yes” to these three questions?

If we knew we could trust everybody in business to do the right thing, to live up to their commitments and not to press every advantage regardless of promises or obligations, it would probably devastate the revenue stream of many law firms. Think of all the unproductive time we spend making and enforcing contract provisions that simply would be unnecessary if we could be confident in our trust of all parties to an agreement. Unrealistic? Probably; but nice to contemplate.

If everybody were committed to excellence in his or her work, imagine how much easier a manager`s job would be. And if every manager were committed to managing in an excellent manner, think how much more pleasant life would be for workers. Granted, there is a difference between striving for excellence and achieving it. But without such a commitment to excellence there is nothing to drive continuous improvement. And without continuous improvement we will surely lose ground, both individually and corporately, in this competitive world.

If we all truly care about our fellow workers, customers and suppliers, and treat them with the dignity and respect we expect to receive from them, the workplace could be more efficient, as well as more pleasant. How much time do we spend hovering around the office coffee pot, discussing how the organization is treating or mistreating employees? How much unproductive energy do we expend smoothing-over hurt feelings after the fact or counteracting anger that has festered in the workplace? We would spare ourselves all of this wasted effort if we could answer “yes” to Holtz`s third question, and really mean it. We all have bad days when preoccupation with our own problems keeps us from being sympathetic to others` situations; but if such days were the exception rather than the rule, each of us would be more effective in his or her job.

In today`s highly competitive business world companies seek an “edge” that will give them even a slight advantage over their competitors. Employees, too, seek that “edge” that will gain them recognition as valued members of the organization. It just might be that living the golden rule, as advocated by Holtz, could provide that competitive edge for both companies and employees.

I think it`s worth a try. p