Business is business
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2018 - 12:00am

In my leadership talks and seminars with business leaders and owners, I would touch on the subject matter of ethics and trust.

I ask questions directly at my audience:

“How many among you have hired people to run your business and discovered that they were incompetent?”

Many hands would go up.  Many would smile, and others would laugh.

“How many among you have hired people to run your business and then discovered that they have covertly set up a competing company while under your employment and steal your key accounts and all these being done while they were still under your employment?

This time, you see hands go up with seemingly choreographed movement of heads shaking from side to side, as if their body language expresses sadness and regret.

If a business does not do well because of a downturn in the economy or competition, it would hurt. But when trust is betrayed, and ethics are violated, the pain that the offended person feels cuts deep into the core, because betrayal is not just a business issue, it is a soul issue. Does this not explain why almost all my corporate clients has “Integrity” as part of their core values? Trust is important in business, and it is vital to leadership and customer relationship.

One could not and should not separate work or business with trust issues.

Notice how when person says “Business is business,” you begin to have a sneaky suspicion that something unethical is about to be done, or that the person is about to get greedy? Do you sense the moral alarm bells ringing?

Now, contrary to popular opinion, I have found that most (around 99 percent) of the business people I have known over the course of my career are exceptionally ethical and moral. They are ethically careful, and they strive to do the right thing. These are people who understand that fairness, honesty and transparency in treating people whether dealing with employees, or outside parties is the best way to develop sustainable and long-lasting relationships, which is, of course, the bedrock of any successful business.

But, then again, there will be people who do not look at business or work this way. For them, the need to “profit,” “win,” “take advantage of the situation,” and the behavior based on their personal erroneous philosophy of “the end justifies the means” thinking takes precedence over doing the right things.

Willing to put their reputation and credibility on the line, these are people who treat other people as only part of a transaction, tend to consider them as either “stepping stones” or “stumbling blocks” towards achieving personal gains. Anyone who treats people as only part of a transaction wherein the objective is to squeeze benefits and take advantage of them in some way may not really be concerned with doing things the right way. Trust that is present in business relationships is a value and an equity that accrues when honesty, transparency and fairness are the prevailing principles that guide the transaction or the business.

Some people may be brash, rude or insensitive, but they are honest. I do not have problems doing work and business with such people. Others may be charming, speaks well, and are oozing with charisma, but they lie with a straight face and puts you at ease for the moment, only to realize that they have not been truthful and have walked away with the benefits at your expense. Maybe, this is why some wise guy said, “The word ‘charisma’ in the dictionary is very near in its location to the word ‘charlatan’.”

Why do people lie? The most common motivation for lying is fear. There is a fear of loss or fear of shame. Other reasons may be to get the immediate benefits at the expense of others.  How do you detect a lie? It can be sensed because there are two words that would reveal it. These are “logical inconsistencies.” What is said and what is done do not match. What is promised and what is delivered do not sync.

No one wants to be taken advantage of.  And when you and I have been victimized by untrustworthy people, we can take two possible routes. We stop trusting people, but our business will never grow unless we do. Or, we charge that to expense as tuition for the lesson learned. Do more due diligence, check into the background, and track records of people who have done work with them, doing business with them or hiring them. If truth is not present in unscrupulous people, then, they can name drop, falsify claims and fabricate stories that would advance their interests at the expense of truth.

Continue to do business and lead with trust. But, be careful and be wise. You cannot grow your business unless you trust your people to grow it. Put the safety nets and the safeguard systems in place. The hard-to-explain reality is that people with high levels of integrity don’t worry about being taken advantage of, and that does not mean they are dumb or stupid, it only means they are more focused on opportunities than to be entrapped with regrets that would limit growth.

Meanwhile, the burden of character, trust and reputation reside on those who have cheated and betrayed. Now, they have to spend their entire future justifying their unethical past and that is a heavy burden to carry. Yes, “Business is business,” and just like everything else in life, it is sacred and must be built and operated on trust.

(Culture of Personal Excellence is a one-day 10 a.m.-5 p.m. program that will happen on July 28, 2018 at Ybizz Incubator – a new co-working space located at the 27th floor of PBCom Tower in Makati. Limited seats available. For further inquiries contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at www.successoptionsinc/cpe)

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