Temptation by definition is, well, tempting. Every one of us has had the feeling. To take something we crave, that isn’t ours. Or to say something to convince someone to do something that benefits us more than themselves. There are any number of desires we can act on for our gratification. And even if we’re sure no one will find out about it, we resist.
That’s your conscience, and it is powerful.
People without a conscience, or who ignore it, do cruel and hurtful things. If caught in the act, they risk permanent damage to their integrity and reputation. At some level, how others view your actions is all you have.
Charlie Sheen doesn’t have a conscience. Neither did Hitler or the gunman in the Pulse nightclub attack. These guys could care less about the consequences of their actions. Trump seems so preoccupied with what people think of him he is willing to do almost anything. His behavior includes ignoring his conscience to advance his agenda. I wonder about his commitment. Hillary seemed to want the highest office in our land. The problem is how she might have used it. Some of her actions define a lack of conscience. The email scandal is a perfect example.
The mere mention of the word conscience conjures up the word guilt. Freud and Nietzsche had their thoughts on guilt and conscience. I don’t want to go down the road of id, ego, and superego. I am just not educated enough to do that. What I can do though is show some practical examples of the use and misuse of conscience in business.
I am conscious of who I work and associate with in the corporate world and life. I take great care to curate a team that has high character. My teams have a conscience related to their business dealings. In short, they have to know the difference between right and wrong.
I often stress the importance of pricing integrity as clients and prospects talk to each other. If the devil pops up on your shoulder and whispers,”it’s ok to price inconsistently” that it wrong. Especially if the deal is similar to another, and you are charging a higher rate. You will get caught. Listen to the angel on your other shoulder. She knows what is best.
I have been around software sales and marketing for a long time. I have seen demos of real products that were in production. I also have seen fake demos that were slicker than the production offering. As long as there is disclosure, I have no problem with it. Many years ago I left a firm who demoed without setting this expectation. There was so much smoke and mirrors the pre-sales consultant believed his bullshit. Over time, the company was shut down.
Expense management is everyone’s responsibility in your business. For the past eight years, we have had an interest rate problem. Low rates make it harder to make money in the financial sector where I work. So, expenses are under a lot of scrutiny. If they are not it is only a matter of time for layoffs to start. I have seen guys get fired for booking their personal vacations and expensing them to the company. Are you kidding me? This cavalier entitlement attitude has to go.
So how do you ensure you are running with the right crowd?
One option is to start a company from scratch. That is not easy. Also, you can only hire people you know and have worked with other places. While that is hard to it is what I do for critical positions. I keep my most trusted people in my network updated on what I am doing, then one day I pick up the phone with an opportunity.
I am doing this now as I search for the next place to hang my hat. However, I know that joining a new business always feels great in the beginning. When the honeymoon ends, you can assess the situation. What kind of shop did you join? Do they have a conscience?
Next, you have two and only two options, and they are to stay or go. If you aren’t comfortable with the company and how it does business, you have a chance to bring on change. Change is unlikely unless you are in a senior position and have the backing of the BOD, but it is an option. If successful in turning the company around you will have a hell of a business success story. Your next employer will dole out the money to entice you to join them.
If you decide you are not a good fit for the company, it is likely you will choose to take your talents somewhere else. At the next place, you have the chance to fit in and be comfortable. Also, your likelihood of success will increase. Most importantly, you will be able to sleep at night, with a clear conscience.
Like a fork is the road, when your conscience shows up. Take it.
My best, Chris