Fred Goodwin; a lesson in Responsibility or lack of it for us all?

We all know the latest today I am sure. The stripping of the honour presented to banking ex-head, Fred Goodwin.
I have heard such statements as “catalogues of failures”, “as CEO, he was and is responsible”, “direct cost to taxpayers and business”. Questions about integrity, responsibility and due process. Personal activities, such as tantrums if the biscuits weren’t pink, his jet and huge pension and clear disregard for his Board members do not suggest a responsible approach to his business. He may be a scapegoat but he IS clearly responsibile to a large degree for making lots of money for himself, misery for many investors and a huge influence in the financial crisis.

I have attached below the section on responsibility from An A-Z of Ethiconomics.

Responsibility and Referral (self)
• the ability or authority to act or decide on one’s own, without supervision

We are completely responsible for everything that we do. I accept that you may view this as a little contentious but I believe it to be true. We cannot always control the thoughts that we have. We cannot always manage our emotions effectively and how we feel has a strong correlation to how we think but, and it is a big but, we can and do control how we act; how we behave. You have both the ability and the authority to decide how you act (behave). It is in this context that I mean “self referral”. An example of this tendency towards denial of self responsibility is the growth in the litigious society; someone else is always to blame; it is always someone else’s fault. We are increasingly handing over responsibility for our actions (and lack of them) to others, be that other individuals, the state, corporate enterprise or some abstract sense of “religious” instruction and worse, blaming them for the outcome. Personal responsibility, it would seem, is a responsibility too far. Not so, say I.

“Whenever we seek to avoid the responsibility for our own behavior, we do so by attempting to give that responsibility to some other individual or organization or entity. But this means we then give away our power to that entity.”
M. Scott Peck

We are the result of the sum of all the decisions and actions that we have taken to this point in our life. It is nobody else’s fault. Nobody else should be blamed. Stop absolving yourself from being responsible for your own condition and take control of it. Once you accept a mind set of personal responsibility then you are in a position to change your life completely; keep looking outside for reasons and excuses and you can stay where you are forever.

Many great men and women, leaders and great minds, have recognized this for generations. It is our generation that is drifting into a dangerous pattern of external blame and lack of self referral. It is a dangerous path we tread. I am not suggesting that I am in some way perfect here, merely that I have recognized that responsibility for myself is critical to my own personal development.

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Once again, personal responsibility for our behaviour is solely and absolutely, ours.

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”
Jim Rohn

We set the standards for others to follow and by adopting a position of self responsibility and self referral we can develop our passion to live our lives to the full; to accomplish our dreams.

“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility in the realm of faith and morals.”
Albert Schweitzer

So what better time than now? It is a relatively simple task and requires nothing but a change of mind. The past is the past and we can learn from it but not be controlled by it. The future for us all is for our own creation so I simply urge that you be responsible for your own.

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”
George Bernard Shaw

Will we learn from this?
Will we, as individuals blame bankers when we ouselves spend beyond our own means?
Will we let business leaders be hung out to dry?
Will we be personally responsible and take this integrity into our business?

Diversity; vive la difference

• the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness
• variety; multiformity

Diversity has become something of a business buzzword and as such has attracted attention, created policies and guidelines and even established organisations specialised in promoting its inherent virtues. At the highest level this is a little confusing because, if you simply take the definitions above at face value, then there is a simple truth. We are all different, none of us are exactly alike and variety is a simple truism.

So why the big issue and how does this affect you and your business?
To quote from the National Centre For Diversity:
“Diverse means different. We are all different, therefore diversity includes us all.”

“There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity”
Michel de Montaigne

Diversity in the workplace addresses the subject from the perspective that in a global marketplace, a company that employs a diverse workforce, meaning both sexes, multiple age groups, varied ethnic and racial groups and such like, is better able to consider the details, demands and demographics of the market, and is thus better equipped to succeed.
As a business person this makes consummate sense because if we are only employing one specific type of resource and addressing only one specific section of the community, then our chances for expansion and growth are inherently restricted. Typically, however, application of the principle has associated benefits and challenges.

Diversity is beneficial to both the organisation and its stakeholders (you, your customers, your shareholders, your community etc). It potentially allows for substantial benefits such as better decision making and improved problem solving by encouraging creativity and innovation. The variety of diverse inputs naturally creates a wider range of potential outputs and results. This is particularly relevant, but not exclusively so, when considering product development and marketing to different customers and market sectors.

By embracing diversity in an organisation you can:
• help link the variety of talents within the organisation
• allow for those employees with these talents to feel needed and have a sense of belonging, which in turn increases their commitment to the company and
• allow each of them to contribute in a unique way
• provide your company with the ability to understand and
compete in global markets.

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.”
Malcolm Forbes

Companies that embrace and utilise diversity have the potential to be more successful as long as there are appropriate and inclusive methods of communication within them. This becomes clear when we understand that people from different cultures, backgrounds, age groups and even personalities perceive messages in different ways. Poor communication within any environment has the potential to compound normal operational challenges, but in a diverse workplace it could present even greater challenges.

There are many challenges which face culturally diverse workplaces, and a major challenge is mis-communication within the organisation:

• native and non-native speakers are exposed to the same messages, but may interpret the information differently
• cultural and behavioural differences may require to be integrated and assimilated into the company

There is a final perspective on diversity that would like to consider; that of quality. When I worked in corporate world the company that I worked for prided itself on being “equal opportunity”. It stated that it recruited irrespective of race, creed, colour, gender. Inevitably, the numbers never quite stacked up. There was a reasonable representation of women in the workplace but mainly in administration, training and the canteen! There were only 3 female engineers and no senior management. After a few years away, I re-joined in a different division and the balance was a little more healthy with women in more sales and marketing roles, accounts and IT; only one in senior management. The “cultural” mix of the company in no way reflected the mix within our society but the “equal opportunity” message was still trumpeted from the towers of power. I have two observations that may well provide some justification, or at least explanation for this.

Firstly, equal opportunity means just that. I do not agree with forced equality. Quotas mask the issue. Recruitment and promotion to keep the numbers balanced is ill-advised and pointless. Ensuring that opportunity and development are available for all members of our community should be the duty and intent of every socially-focussed entrepreneur.
Secondly, it is about value, attitude and behaviour NOT gender, race or colour. One of my little quips in these times was that the company was in fact an equal opportunity employer but it had taken the principle one step too far – it recruited irrespective of ability too! Business has a social duty but it cannot support that duty effectively by employing staff to meet quotas to the detriment of the overall performance of the team and the business. We all have a personal responsibility to invest in and develop ourselves. If we are not genuinely good enough on take on a role with all the rigours and challenges then we should not get the job. Simple as that.

My view is that IF you are good enough, you are good enough, and if not, then no balancing of quotas (gender, race, ethnicity or whatever) should be allowed to corrupt or falsely achieve “balance”. As leaders and entrepreneurs we should ensure that the opportunities exist, that assessment is fair and that the support is available, other than that it’s up to you as an individual. Make sure that you are good enough. Make sure that you invest in yourself.

I am pro-diversity with a passion and I am ante-discrimination – positive or negative. Diversity is natural. Embrace it, use it, and benefit from it. Vive la difference!

It’s not my fault . . .

The debacle and disgrace of the News of the World newspaper and, just as importantly News International and Rupert Murdoch, continues to rumble on despite Murdoch’s apparent apology. I say “apparent” because I do not think that I am alone in getting the impression that he does not actually mean it. The words came out but the sentiment behind them appeared conspicuous by its absence.

You could, of course, excuse the mogul if his expression of the apology failed to hit the mark because of his usual habit of avoiding interview (although it would seem that this discretion was invariably not offered to his victims!) compounded by the excessive publicity and pressure that is being exerted by his fellow media jackals. No “there but by the grace of God go I” from them – it is in for the kill and let’s make it as painful and public as possible! I do not allow him such excuse. With great power comes great responsibility Rupert.

There are 2 points that I would like to elaborate upon with respect to this circus but firstly I feel that it is worth noting that WE (well never me!) bought his rag. We were happy to read about the dirt dished and the injunctions “supered” and I do not accept that we all assumed that these exclusives and revelations were all uncovered by ethical and acceptable practices. The public gets what the public wants and we clearly voted “Yes” to the sleaze and bile that the NotW regularly presented. Mea culpa.

However, back to the mogul.
Why don’t we believe him?
Well, basically because his reputation dictates otherwise. His reputation (personally and professionally) does not lend itself to remorse, compassion and respect so it is somewhat churlish to expect to both to receive this in return and to expect the public to believe that there has been a massive disconnect between him and his staff and that this truly apologetic individual in now acting with authenticity and integrity. He may we have experienced an epiphany but . . . .well, what do you think?

When asked ‘are you not responsible as head of News Corp?’ – Rupert Murdoch said emphatically NO.

When asked ‘who is responsible?’ – this is what Rupert Murdoch said …. “The people I trusted to run it and maybe the people they trusted.”

Mmmm. Trust? Well, every business leader influences the culture, and inevitably the operational guidelines, process and policies, of his organisation. If he does not, why is he there? If he is guilty of trusting the wrong people then that raises other serious deficiencies but I am of the opinion that the “trust” defence is simply not tenable. He may as well have blamed the company toilet cleaner because there was not enough soap to wash his hands (well he is attempting to wash them now!) which distracted him from the main business of the day! He sets the culture. He sets the standard. He sets the policies and protocols. He should recruit, instruct, train, develop, measure and review ALL policy and operations as a matter of course – every other leader has to so why should he not? You establish a culture of integrity and trust and you get it back. Create a culture of “whatever it takes, whoever gets in the way” and that is what you get.
I am not in any way excusing the unprofessional, unethical, disgraceful, self-promoting, dis-respectful, intrusive behaviour of the minions that deployed these tactics at all but he recruited, trained, motivated, measured and paid them – he IS responsible for their conduct (if not every single action).

There may be one final hiding place for Murdoch’s soul. It may lie in the argument that he was acting in accordance with the greater culture of our times with his puerile apology? By this I mean the ambulance-chasing, someone-to-blame, get me lawyer mentality that seems to be pervading our own society. Well, in this case someone IS to blame. There IS a price to be paid. You are the person Mr Murdoch and you are only just beginning to pay the price.

Corporate responsibility, compliance, health and safety etc are all reflections of our growing tendency to avoid personal responsibility. Tough! Look in the mirror; the person looking back will guide your way and you will not get to authentic integrity and leadership by kidding yourself. You cannot kid a kidder (or the man in the mirror – no pun intended!)

Welcome to Ethiconomics

Welcome to Ethiconomics

Ethiconomics ™ is your complete guide to an improved, rewarding life leading to sustainable business relationships and personal fulfilment.

(ethik’ə nämiks) noun:

– a system of practices and personal values for ethical business in the global economy.

Current business practice has lead to virtual economic meltdown fuelled by corporate irresponsibility, non-accountability and a lack of moral values.

This must change; Ethiconomics™ is this change…

Ethiconomics ™ is your complete guide to an improved, sustainable life leading to rewarding business relationships and personal fulfilment.

How?  By showing you:

• that you CAN live and work with your authentic values

• that you CAN incorporate your own personal values into your working life

• that business MUST think beyond simple profits

• that you CAN change your work, family and community for the better.