Not many companies keep their values at the forefront of their operation.

One company that had values that sounded great on paper, but never actually put them into practice was the infamous mid-size energy company, Enron.

The top value in their employee handbook known as the “Code of Ethics” was Integrity.

We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly, and sincerely. When we say we will do something, we will do it; when we say we cannot do something; then we won’t do it.

“Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

How many organizations put their values into action? Enron’s board voted twice to suspend the Code of Ethics when doing the legal and right thing stood in the way of large personal and company gains.

Greed is good.” This is the adage from Gordon Gekko in the 1987 hit movie Wall Street. Did Gordon define people by their money more than their character and values? Most definitely he did.

The end justifies the means.” Is often a phrase that’s tossed around when people want to circumvent ethics. They see the result in arm’s reach and they don’t care about blowback, reputation risk, or whom they harm in the process.

Operating from the perspective that the end justifies the means is not part of a sustainable recipe. Eventually, there will be leaks, and the company’s reputation in the eyes of the public, the brand, will shift from trustworthy to untrustworthy.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” -MLK

The name of the game in building the modern business culture of today is transparency and reputation. Your digital billboard in many ways is your style, your content, and your social media presence. All those things form a tapestry of who you are and what you stand for in the minds of the public.

All of your external communications on social media will build your brand. The public will start to trust the brand if they think the content is helpful to their business or daily lives.

Where does the external communication style originate from? The internal communications. If the company internally has a well-perceived brand the employee will outperform.

The key questions are: Do the employees of the company like the company? Do they enjoy being a part of the company and the culture? Do they like the leadership? Do they follow the leadership? Are they emotionally bought in?

Studies show that employee’s feelings about whether a company cares about their well-being impacts the likelihood that they will underperform if they believe they can get away with it.

How the employees inside perceive the leadership will affect the quality and quantity of the work produced. If the employee’s hearts and minds are not bought into the mission, they won’t produce any outstanding work. It’s that simple.

If they are engaged and see the confidence and forward-thinking abilities of management, they will take note and subconsciously mirror that back.

When leadership is perceived to be standing on a well-assembled moral foundation then the employees will tend to model that in a monkey see, monkey do mirror neuron type of fashion.

Where do values originate? 

In a survey of business professionals, 68% reported that the values they learned at home had the biggest influence on them. It’s clear that how we raise our families has a far-reaching impact not just at home, but outside the home as well.

The Golden Rule

To act according to the Golden Rule requires empathy and love.

“We believe that people are basically good, we believe that everyone has something to offer; we believe that an honest, open environment can bring out the best in people, we recognize everyone as an individual, we encourage you to treat others the way you want to be treated.” -Pierre Omidyar, founder, eBay

What’s going to bake the cake and close the sales in a group of employees and managers? The answer is having trust A) among the group and B) having trust between the company and the clients.

Starting from the belief that people are basically good is the only way to develop a trust-based environment for people to feel psychologically safe, to be honest, open, and to expand beyond their current ability.

The key takeaway is the values that you deploy into your company’s culture will define your long-term success. It’s better to lose a deal in the short term than to lose the good moral standing in the minds of your employees and clients.

Money is a commodity, clients are not.” -Sean Kelly-Rand, RD Advisors

When that trust-based culture exists, employees inside are more willing to go beyond their job requirements to work in ways that benefit the future of the company. It also leads to increased levels of courtesy, sportsmanship, conscientiousness, altruism, commitment, fulfillment with their work, and satisfaction with the leadership.