KARACHI: To me the single most critical factor that gives inherent long-term strength to a company, society or a country is the presence of ‘Values’ in its culture. Values are the foundations on which great companies and nations are created.
Values are the basic set of belief’s under which everyone ranging from national leaders to normal citizens are required to function. Values form the foundation for everything in a society, right from behaviours of the president and prime minister’s office all the way down to the policeman on the street. Values must be used to guide every decision taken by the government from giving tenders to the daily functioning of ministries and institutions.
The greatest example of Value driven behaviour comes from our role-modelled by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Values such as ‘Integrity’, ‘Trust’, ‘Compassion’, ‘Fairness’, and ‘Merit’ are expected from every Muslim and if followed can turn any Muslim society into a model society.
Regrettably, we as a nation and majority of our leaders have lost their link with these values, thus allowing nepotism, corruption, and discrimination to creep into every decision, daily dealings and business transactions.
Bear in mind that values always permeates from top down. Values can only be implemented through role-modelling. If you are an ethical minister and show high level of integrity in your dealings with everyone, the same values will start taking root in the personality of each employee as well as in every business decision or project that your ministry undertakes. Living these values by the minister will allow the values to infuse into the workplace’s culture and over time only those employees will survive in that ministry who will share these values – just like what Darwin meant when he coined the concept of “natural selection”.
I would strongly suggest that each political party must have a set of values that would help define their character as well the character of their leaders. Each party must publically share their set of values that defines their party and only allow individuals who display these values to join. For example if a political party defines their values as Trust, Integrity, Discipline, and Empathy, then each person who leads, works or is a party member must display these values.
Consistently recruiting and rewarding people who share and display these set of values will create an inherent culture within that party which will be principled, ethical and honest; in line with the values of its leadership. Consistency and zero tolerance are the two most critical aspects which will bring these values to life and sustain them for a very long time.
The people must be able to see that no one is above the value system; everyone from party leaders to the tea boy is expected to live by these values. Only in that case over time these values will become part of the general culture. Merely saying that these are our values, publishing them and implementing them selectively will never work.
In summary, the adoption of values is a core concept to drive proper ethical behaviour across thousands of people. Values act as an umbrella under which everyone functions, they act as a guidebook to handle ethical conflicts, they influence both decision making and interpersonal interactions, they help build trust inside and outside the party and with continual focus and use they create a culture that permeates everyday life.
The writer works in the corporate sector and is active on various business forums and trade bodies.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2012.