Morals Schmorals


I think I did not do a very good job of making my points in my last post. Most business leaders today prioritize short-term tangible benefit over long-term excellence…there are a variety of things that drive that. Most business leaders today don’t really get human capital practices so they stick to the other stuff…there are probably a variety fo things that drive that as well. The fact that many of these practices are long-term and challenging to actually measure (among other issues) become the justification for “leaders” to not fully invest.

Every single airline in this country knows what Southwest does to be successful and how it does it. Every single airline in this country continues to go a different way and continues to underperform Southwest. It is just much simpler to focus on being as profitable as possible today than it is to build an amazing organization.

But certainly you are right, there is more to the story.

You mention personal accountability and amen. Personal accountability should always be a part of the conversation, but it goes hand in hand with the organizations role in supporting that behavior. If we want employees to confront bad management then we have to make it safe to do so. This is a topic where it is common for organizations to have a big doing-saying gap. Almost every company out there says it wants people to speak up, it wants employees to tell the truth, and in almost every company the employees know that the truth is a bit more complicated. Organizations that truly want employees to be awake, alive and accountable can have it…that is our natural state as human beings. But most companies do no want that, as it requires a much different style of leadership.

You also mention the morality of work that truly matters and again amen…and give me a break. Maybe I am a bit extra cynical this morning, but if business and business leadership had a real sense of the “right” way, you and I would probably be unemployed, hungry and on the street. Any institution that exists solely for the purpose of profit, that privatizes profits and socializes costs is morally challenged from the start. Business has historically been forced to do the right things…against its will. The funny thing is that most of the right things that business has been forced to do have been beneficial to business in the long-term, and again I point back to my two original points. Business is not naturally oriented towards the long-term, that requires courageous, competent leadership and that my friend is a rare thing.

That is what I think.


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