Visions, ideals, principles and aims are not enough. They need to be translated into action in our daily lives. The means are as important as the ends we seek to achieve.
None of us are perfect. Our methods and practices must take account of our own limitations and capacity for mistakes as well as the failures and frailties of others.
Balancing discipline, especially self-discipline, with freedom and exploration are perhaps the most important way that we develop and realise our business vision and goals.
33. Leadership and decision making
In each business situation someone needs to take the initiative to point the way forward and to motivate others to realise the common vision. We are all called upon to lead at different times.
In business situations it is important to share your views with others, and consider the best way to achieve them. Consider all the stakeholders affected, not just those most affected or closest. Planning to realise a vision is not sufficient – it is necessary to make a decision and to act.
Are you prepared to take responsibility for decision-making? Do you consult with those affected first? Do you avoid paralysing indecision?
Are you open to the advice and guidance of colleagues?
When a decision has been made, do you explain it to those affected so that they understand the vision and the part which they have in its realisation? Are your decisions justified and will they withstand scrutiny?
Good management is the skill of allocating resources, planning, and organising other people in the performance of their work. This means giving people a framework in which to work and enabling them to do a good job despite any limitations.
Good managers need to nurture a spirit of teamwork to get the best out of their people. Determine the elements that make your workplace a happy and effective one, and then create them.
Do you respect your employees? Do you trust everyone, even though in some cases this may be betrayed?
Do you set a positive example to others in the way you manage your business? Does your managerial competence and behaviour earn their respect? Do you avoid destructive cultures of blame, belittling and humiliation?
Do you communicate your plans, concerns and expectations clearly, appropriately and in a timely manner
Do you delegate? Do you try to make each person’s job more satisfying by giving them more responsibility as that person develops?
If you supervise others, do you remember that this is your opportunity to help them to contribute their best? Do you give spontaneous feedback – both praise and correction? Are you careful to praise and reward others for their efforts and achievements? Do you pass on compliments from your customers? If someone makes a mistake do you consider how you can help the person concerned?
Do you remember that everyone has their own personal life and problems and may, from time to time, need your support?
When difficult situations arise, do you remember that even those who are hostile or who abuse our trust must be treated fairly and legally? Are you careful to keep an objective record of events?
35. Monitoring, awareness and audits
Every good business needs systems to monitor what is happening, so that it can be alert to problems when they emerge, and take action to correct the situation quickly. Monitoring, auditing and feed-back are important for quality control, continuous improvement and performance assessment.
These activities should take place in an open and constructive way. Those people responsible for monitoring should be appropriately qualified and respect the rights of individuals.
Does your business have sufficient systems for monitoring, auditing and assurance? Do you ensure that the people engaged in monitoring are suitable and qualified for their tasks?
Do you ensure that the results of your monitoring and performance measurement are fed back to people constructively and sensitively? Do you use monitoring and feed-back to improve people’s quality of life at work as well as to improve the business’s performance?
Anything that is personal to an individual, including that person’s feelings and even your observations about them, is confidential. Treat anything in a one-to-one meeting as confidential – unless it is clearly for public consumption. Similarly, always treat discussions about an individual in confidence.
Be aware that in a business situation, under current human rights legislation, any employee might be entitled to know what has been written or even said about them in a meeting.
Comply with both the spirit and the intent of legislation designed to protect the privacy of others.
Can people confide in you with confidence? Do you use information entrusted to you with discretion and responsibility? Are you careful to respect the privacy of others?
Do you take care to ensure that no-one’s rights, privacy or confidentiality are impaired or abused? Are you careful not to take ideas from one supplier and give them to another?
Are you careful not to use or distribute confidential information? If you receive confidential material belonging to a competitor - what do you do with it?
37. Intellectual property
In many cases, copyright initially belongs to the originator. Remember that the original owner of a copyright may have transferred it to someone else. If you want to copy or use someone else’s work, do not avoid paying for and acknowledging their ownership. In the same way, make sure that your company’s intellectual property is legally protected.
Do you take prudent steps to ensure that you do not infringe the copyrights, patents, or other intellectual property rights of others? Do you acknowledge the sources of your work?
Before you make photocopies or use artwork do you check to find out who owns the copyright?
Do you ask for permission to use the material? Do you make sure that the changes you make are acceptable to the owner? Are you careful about copies made for private study? Do you use computer software which you have not paid for?
Do you use all necessary legal means at your disposal to register and protect your own intellectual property?
If you, or your company, invent some device, such as an app, which could be very widely useful and that can be accessed at no marginal cost per use, how do you decide what fee to charge for its use? Do you charge what the market will bear or charge what will maximise take up?
If you do not protect your rights, how do you prevent a less ethical supplier from usurping your copyright and charging highly for the product?