Firstly do the right thing. What does this mean? It has two components. Strategy and ethics.
Strategy answers the questions what, where, when?
Ethics guides you as to why and answers this important question.
Strategy deals with the most profound questions, about the industry you are in, your competitive position within the industry, your channels of distribution, your products, and where you source your raw materials.
Ethics and values are in fact a bet on the future. I realise this is an odd way of looking at values. What has a bet on the future got to do with ethics?
At it’s most basic, history shows that those institutions that don’t respect human life are doomed to failure. The more disrespect, the quicker the failure. Evil empires don’t last long.
Clever bankers who see immediate exploitative short-term profit and put it in front of long-term service to their customers are bound to fail.
I can absolutely guarantee that utilities that stand in the way of sustainable generation will not make it through the coming thirty years course of human and company history.
The value of respect, while not a guarantor of success, because there is no such guarantee to be had, is a huge enabler.
In a development business, I have noticed that arrogance, that is the opposite of respect is a sure fire loser.
Once strategy and values or ethics are in place, the next most important thing is talent.
All my business life has been a search for great talent to work with.
The business leader should never be afraid to stand on the shoulders of giants.
It is argued by many that the single most important thing to do in business is to recruit great people.
Whereas I don’t entirely accept this, it is way up there as a historic enabler of business success.
If the strategy isn’t right and the ethics are dodgy, then great people won’t stay.
They will leave and ply their trade with a better company.
The third thing that is necessary for great business success is motivation.
This is now more commonly called leadership.
I would say the elements of leadership are to be found in a combination of authenticity on the part of the leader – that is never preach what you are not prepared to do yourself.
The leader needs to be the walking, running, jumping, standing still example of what the company claims to believe in.