These are complex times for leaders. Our sense of decency continues to come under siege from an array of antagonists: indifferent and entitled workers, a generation that embraces no behavioral absolutes, and from courts and governments that treat religion hostilely and business with acrimony. In the event that some preoccupation has sheltered you from noticing society’s freefall into moral bankruptcy, please begin to pay attention because as society goes, so trends business. Consider the five following evidences of an accelerated cultural decline, and then weigh the impact the six consequences I’ve listed will continue to have on your business.
- Our national character and reputation are being reduced to the ridiculous. With the support of a manipulative media, factions in education and government are revising history to convince you that our Founding Fathers were godless bumpkins and narcissists who fought and died to create a welfare state to enable the lazy and illegal, to make porn more accessible and prayer less visible.
- “One nation under God” has become farcical as activist judges give atheists and agnostics veto power over those who believe in God, and support their quest to scrub all evidence of religion from the public square.
- Moral failures among celebrities in sports, business, politics, religion, and even within ordinary families have lost their power to shock us. In fact, it can be argued that one of the greatest tragedies of our time is that we’ve lost our sense of shame.
- Hollywood has accelerated its campaign against God, country, and family values. Television and motion pictures especially deride the moral, portraying them as: stiff, fanatical, joyless, peculiar, and unthinking. On the other hand criminals, deviants, atheists, and addicts are represented as cool, witty, intelligent, victimized, free-spirited, and enlightened.
- Political correctness has succeeded in erasing all middle ground. You are either for abortion or a chauvinist; pro-gay rights or homophobic, in favor of affirmative action or a racist, a left coast kook or a right wing nut. In fact, watch what you say, because offering your opinion can as easily be considered hate speech as free speech. Speaking of speech, it’s gotten downright mean! Politicians, pundits, and even ordinary folks who disagree about an issue would rather demonize the other side than debate them; make the conversation personal, rather than about principles.
What do these five facts have to do with your ability to lead effectively within your organization and elsewhere? Plenty! Trends in business have historically followed society’s trends. Thus, the continuing moral collapse of our culture will affect your business in the following ways.
- Employees will be more inclined to emulate the selfish, hedonistic, unethical, and narcissistic behaviors ubiquitous in society.
- These behaviors will diminish morale, damage your brand, debilitate productivity, and denigrate concern for fellow teammates and customers alike.
- This, in turn, will increase the likelihood that consumers will develop a greater aversion to dealing with people and buy more online, shopping your prices until your products are commoditized and your margins trivialized.
- The downward spiral of society’s collective character will entice leaders and followers with marginal morals to accelerate the pilferage of their organizations through new and shameless levels of greed fueled by a self-interest that would make Bernie Madoff blush.
- Employees with weak personal values are tougher to manage. Since they don’t believe in absolutes, fail to take responsibility, believe that anything goes, are primarily concerned with themselves, and that contend accountability is unfair, you can expect increased turnover, an escalation of hiring and training costs, and low customer retention.
- The new rules and policies you’ll need to install to prevent, police, and punish iniquitous behaviors will consume untold time, energy, and financial resources.
The six consequences listed here reflect only a modicum of the fallout you can expect to endure as the collateral damage from today’s “value system” cascades and infects every fiber of business and society. Worse, the behaviors I’ve listed are inevitable, and here’s why: As society becomes more adept at rationalizing away ethical standards in order to satisfy its quest for more financial and personal pleasure, men and women with weak moral foundations will follow the popular trend and be swept into the same cesspool, dragging their companies down with them. They will fall for everything, and engage in anything, because they stand for nothing.
Considering the contemporary obviation of personal character and derogation of corporate ethics, how can you succeed in building and sustaining a character-driven culture in your dealership? How do you buck the trend towards hyper-tolerance and “anything goes” that has the potential to create a culture of chaos in your dealership? It begins and ends with you as the leader. Assuming your own character is a model of integrity for your team to emulate, you must then focus on hiring people with like moral qualities. This is especially true since, unlike skills and knowledge, you cannot teach character to an employee. Rather, their character is made up of personal values and choices they’ve embraced throughout their life.
Choosing an employee with strong character requires a highly structured interview process, as well as an effective pre-employment assessment that evaluates their personality. Since I’ve referred to our own Anderson Eagle Profiles that dig deep into twenty-four key personality traits in a past column, I’ll spend the remaining space in this column helping you to interview for character. On second thought, since I cannot convey these principles in the one hundred words I’ve got remaining in this space, I’ll help you even more by giving you a 35-minute DVD I created on this topic: The Best Interview Questions to Determine Strength of Character. This resource comes with a reproducible handout you can use with your entire management team. It covers interview strategies, as well as fifteen key questions to ask to determine character qualities. E-mail me through DEALER with your name and address and we’ll ship it to you at no charge — no strings. Just do your part to clean up and professionalize our industry by actually watching and applying the principles I present. Fair enough?