What price for your values? Seriously, if you run a company, and were asked, what price would you put on your values?
If you’re the CEO or MD of a company, you WILL be called on to put a price. Almost certainly first by your team.
Most likely, it will come from sales.
“We have an amazing opportunity at British American Tobacco / Raytheon / Shell / Betfred / insert company that runs against your values. It’s a huge deal. Will make half my sales number (and commission) in one fell swoop. AND it will get you, Ms/Mr CEO, to your revenue growth / EBIT goal.”
“I know we said we wouldn’t work with unethical companies, but these ones also give free bets to the poor / fund tobacco farmers in hard hit areas / other random justification. And we’ll be working with the canteen, not the guys who actually produce the phosphorous bombs they rain on kids in Gaza. So we’re not actually hurting anyone or contradicting our values.”
The question of what value do you attach to your values could also come from other places on your team.
“This client doesn’t treat its suppliers well. They don’t respect our team. They view all meetings as adversarial. They talk all over the women in our team.”
“But it’s OK, because they do it to the women in their team too. That’s just the way they are.”
If it’s important, expect to be asked to pay a price every so often. You wouldn’t expect to get fit without sometimes having to go for a run that you REALLY don’t feel like doing.
So you can’t expect to lead a company with values and not occasionally have to make a call that your spreadsheet will say is a bad move.
Your challenge is to make it work so that the price doesn’t take you under. You don’t take that customer, and that feels hard, but the feeling is just an acknowledgement that you may need to work harder elsewhere to keep things going while staying true.
And you absolutely should NOT take that customer. Because even if your team won’t call it out, it will gnaw at you in the shower every morning.
Because in the end, what kind of company do you want to lead?
How's 2022 going? Have you been able to step back and focus on strategy, on purpose, on scale? We're looking for an intimate beta group of CEOs (10 to 40 employees) to join us on this workshop to talk through our Build on Purpose framework for making strategy, purpose and values happen. If that's you, join us.