When it comes to ethics in business I always remember a talk I was at with John Maxwell, famed leadership guru.
John was teaching a group of us in the Portland, Oregon area. It was shortly after some scandals where piles of garbage were found under the corner of someones proverbial rug.
Interestingly it was prior to the toxic mortgage bundles that were sold to banks with little due diligence or conscience.
At the time I remember thinking that the devolution of ethics corresponded to the evolution of self-help books. The more we focus on ourselves, the less we seem to focus on the community we are a part of.
In the immediate pre and post WWII era, the focus was on nothing but community. More recently as the trend towards “entitlement” evolves we see an overwhelmingly tendency to put self before service, the opposite of the famous Rotary “creed” and certainly at opposition with community values of the early and mid 20th century.
So what are ethics in business
According to John Maxwell at that talk, there are none.
It was a shocking statement – and it was delivered exactly in the way he wanted. In fact, if I recall correctly his statement about ethics in business was delivered to a high powered US journalist who was writing about ethics in business.
The journalists question in reality was “What are business ethics?”
John’s reply as I stated was “there are none… there are just ethics. No group gets to choose ethics or create a separate list of ethics, there are simply ethics”.
I guess the world has not been listening, because several years later we lived through an enormous financial collapse around the globe.
On a smaller scale in relation to ethics in business, I keep running in to people who had invested locally in a business. They are coming to me with similar stories and it always goes back to the same couple who have raised money for and run a business very unethically and have negatively impacted the lives of many people.
So, together with Andre Voskuil, I have decided to start running webinars and training sessions on how to evaluate a private business investment. In every case, literally ten minutes online or ten minutes with the business plan should have revealed that what my friends looked at was not viable. The challenge was simply that they did not know what they were looking for!
Time to bring an end to that!
If you are interested in finding out more about the coaching we will be offering, sign up below and get a free copy of Andre’s book – The Only Business Book You Will Ever Need