Another month, and another weaker than expected jobs report. So what’s up with the economy? Welcome to the new normal: Unemployment that is higher than anything we can remember in decades. Scores jobs are available due to a lack of skilled workers. Slow growth that feels like a recession even though technically it isn’t, and most of all, uncertainty.
We live in an era of unprecedented uncertainty. At least that is what we are led to believe. Yes, the economy is sputtering at best. Jobs are at risk or non-existent. Europe could implode financially. The Middle East could implode politically. Depending on your political views, either the left or the right is about to take the country over a cliff from which there is no return. The challenges we face are certainly more expansive in their scope, but unprecedented uncertainty? Hardly. Do you believe that the level of personal anxiety is any higher today than that which existed during the Cuban Missile Crisis; World War I or II; the Civil War; the Great Depression; or life in the American colonies during the Revolutionary War?
Our sins, as we learn from religious teaching, corrupt our character and cloud our sense of what is right and wrong. Most important, they form a habit pattern that leads to our downfall. It works that way for organizations, too. Here are the seven deadly sins for business success today:
My friend Larry Winget (www.LarryWinget.com), blew up his Facebook following last week when he posted this comment: “If your life sucks, it’s because you suck!” A number of people missed Larry’s point. Your life isn’t defined by your circumstances unless you allow it. There are many people – like my friends W. Mitchell and Chad Hymas – who have refused to allow tragic circumstances that were not their fault define their lives. And, there are others whose lives have spiraled out of control despite living in ideal circumstances. Circumstances can make it easier or more difficult to succeed. They can define your environment. But ultimately, the choice to be personally responsible and accountable is more important than your circumstances.
You may not remember Dick the Butcher. He was a rather forgettable character in William Shakespeare’s play, Henry VI, Part II. The chances are good, however, that you remember Dick’s famous line: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Henry VI addresses England’s loss of its territories to the French and, most important, the personal jealousies that tor the political system apart. Dick, a follower of the anarchist character Jack Cade, believes that lawyers played an active role in keeping the common people down. So what would Shakespeare’s character say today if he were to write about the poor performance and caustic environment that plagues many organizations and keeps workers from being productive?
There is a moment of truth in every organizational change that determines if the effort has a chance of succeeding or is destined to fail. It is the point where good intention is transformed into focused action. It when everyone looks at each other and says, “Oh, S**T! They’re Serious!”
There are only a handful of things at which you must be excellent to be successful in business. It doesn’t matter what type of business you are in, your model is not that complicated. But, it is hard. Really hard in fact.
It is time to stop thinking about new management initiatives and start embracing leadership principles. Programs and initiatives come and go. Principles never end. There is only one leadership principle you will ever need if your goal is a culture where everyone is committed to consistent results, strong working relationships, and volunteered accountability.
The Ethics Resource Center (www.ethics.org) released its latest National Business Ethics Survey results in January 2012. There is good news and bad news. The good news is that overall reports of misconduct are at historic lows and those who observe ethical misconduct are more willing to report it than in past years.
What if the unemployment rate is the wrong measure? The U.S. economy added 243,000 jobs in January 2012, and the unemployment rate dropped from 8.5 percent to 8.3 percent. That’s huge, and everyone should be excited regardless of their political affiliation. This is the type of employment gain that solidifies the economic recovery. But, what if the right number turns out to be the wrong measure?