“Virtue is a moral excellence. A virtue is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. In other words, it is a behaviour that shows high moral standards: doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong.” At least that is according to that font of eternal knowledge; Wikipedia. The key for me here is the word behaviour. Often when we talk values they are abstract whereas, virtues are translated into behaviours which is absolutely key if you want to grow your business successfully.
We’re talking here about growth and in particular, where to scrutinise for growth. I've put a section here on virtues because I think it's important to view them as a part of an organisational structure. Yes, we do cover this in other areas that are more aligned to people, but I think it's worth a mention here from an organisational perspective around what to scrutinise for growth.
According to French philosopher, mathematician and scientist, Rene Descartes, “The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.” I agree. I do not believe people are either good or evil, but as Solzhenitsyn said the line between good and evil lies in the heart of every person. Therefore, we do need to be challenged on our behaviour. Scrutinising an organisation's virtues, the out workings of their values, becomes a key to unlocking the potential to grow.
The frustration can be lots of potential to grow not being seized on by the people in the organisation. Teams not operating well, means low engagement and productivity. What we want is activated, keen, motivated, high performance individuals doing the right thing consistently.
The answer is the integration of values into the real world of everybody's, every day.
If you get this right the behaviours are consistent with the values and the organisation will thrive. You'll move from fear and control, to trust and innovation. If you don't have this the most you can get is compliance, when what you're looking for is commitment. This goes hand in hand with empowerment and transparency.
From an organisational perspective what you're looking for when dealing with scrutinising virtues is understanding the things in the organisation that will enable those virtues to come to the fore. Also we need to understand those things in the organisation that detract from those virtues being activated.
For example, if you have a culture that values autonomy, responsibility and empowerment, and who doesn't?, then if you have a process where three managers have to sign off for a person buying $200 worth of stationery, then this process constrains that that virtue.
The principle here is to understand the virtues you need in the people you have to bring sustainable success and ensure the organisation enables and does not discourage those behaviours.
Would you appoint a judge who wasn't fair?
So, what are the virtues you need in your team and how can you make them aware of that, and more importantly act accordingly?
You may have heard me say, “the team is more important than the individual.” The thinking behind that is that a high performing team, with the right virtues, will outperform a bunch of toxic individuals.
I had a Sales Manager who would have made a great poster child for the #metoo campaign. He was high performing, with the best sales in the group, and yet, toxic with his team. I gave him an opportunity to align his behaviours and his virtues, with the agreed culture. He chose not to do that, and unfortunately, I had to enable him to find alternative employment.
There was an element of scrutiny in the virtues in that organisation and he was a casualty of that. Whilst there was some initial disruption and even some commercial loss, ultimately that team went way beyond what one high performing individual could achieve. They achieved high growth, engendered a great environment, massive productivity and a sustainable commercial outcome.
So, what can you do to scrutinise your virtues?
Firstly, do you have an agreed set of values?
Are they just a list on a wall or are they truly lived?
There is a straightforward exercise you can do, in a day, to test your values, construct them if you don't have them, and translate them into behaviours.
If you have already done this, do you socialise it across your organisation, talk to it, live it, make sure that it has priority. We can help you do that if not.
If you want to grow, scrutinise your virtues and ensure your organisation enables the full expression of them. You’ll be glad you did.