High-Performance Ethics: 10 Timeless Principles for Next-Generation Leadership

Overview

Do you have to lower your ethical standards in order to succeed at your job? High-Performance Ethics authors Wes Cantrell and James Lucas say that the answer is no. The authors outline ways to make ethical decisions (based on the Ten Commandments) that lead to highly successful business practices. High-Performance Ethics includes tips on how to lead a team with integrity, practical tools for resisting the pressure to compromise workplace standards, and encouragement for workers ...

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High-Performance Ethics: 10 Timeless Principles for Next-Generation Leadership

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Overview

Do you have to lower your ethical standards in order to succeed at your job? High-Performance Ethics authors Wes Cantrell and James Lucas say that the answer is no. The authors outline ways to make ethical decisions (based on the Ten Commandments) that lead to highly successful business practices. High-Performance Ethics includes tips on how to lead a team with integrity, practical tools for resisting the pressure to compromise workplace standards, and encouragement for workers who want to see strong businesses—and strong values—thrive.
10 Principles:

  1. First Things Only (priorities)
  2. Ditch the Distractions
  3. Align with Reality (never claim support for a bad cause)
  4. Find Symmetry
  5. Respect the Wise
  6. Protecct the Souls
  7. Commit to the Relationships
  8. Spread the Wealth
  9. Speak the Truth
  10. Limit Your Desires
Tyndale House Publishers
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What People Are Saying

Dr. Stephen R. Covey
This is a truly wise, remarkable book! Comprehensive in scope, beautifully written, compellingly illustrated, Cantrell and Lucas illuminate the mind, heart, and soul of high-performing leadership. Wondering whether it’s worth buying and reading and applying? Just study the inspiring chapter outline and listen to your conscience for the answer.
Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Steve Forbes
High-Performance Ethics is a rare commodity, a book with a truly unique and provocative message that can actually make a difference in the way we act and the results we get today. It is a very personal case study encased in outstanding teaching. Its message is as important as any you will hear now or in the years to come.
Steve Forbes, President and CEO, Forbes, Inc.; Editor-in-chief, Forbes magazine
Howard Dayton CEO
High-Performance Ethics is a must-read book authored by two people who have lived these principles in the rough-and-tumble world of corporate America. Wes Cantrell and Jim Lucas have done a masterful job of clearly and practically communicating what it means to be a person of integrity in the marketplace. Read it and you won’t be the same.
Howard Dayton CEO, Compass-Finances God’s Way
Rabbi Daniel Lapin
High-Performance Ethics is a welcome ally in the struggle to restore respect for the dignity and morality of business. Instead of viewing ethics as an obstacle to success, High-Performance Ethics reveals the seamless integration between the two. Every business professional can benefit from this volume’s performance-enhancing prescriptions.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, President of Toward Tradition and the Ethical Capitalism Institute
Stephen R. Covey, Doctor
This is a truly wise, remarkable book! Comprehensive in scope, beautifully written, compellingly illustrated, Cantrell and Lucas illuminate the mind, heart, and soul of high-performing leadership. Wondering whether it’s worth buying and reading and applying? Just study the inspiring chapter outline and listen to your conscience for the answer.
Steve Forbes
High-Performance Ethics is a rare commodity, a book with a truly unique and provocative message that can actually make a difference in the way we act and the results we get today. It is a very personal case study encased in outstanding teaching. Its message is as important as any you will hear now or in the years to come.
Zig Ziglar
In an ever-changing society and business landscape, we need something solid and real to hang on to. Something that tells us how to do right, something that tells us how to do well. You will do well to take the message you’ve received in High-Performance Ethics and apply it to your life and career.
Howard Dayton, CEO
High-Performance Ethics is a must-read book authored by two people who have lived these principles in the rough-and-tumble world of corporate America. Wes Cantrell and Jim Lucas have done a masterful job of clearly and practically communicating what it means to be a person of integrity in the marketplace. Read it and you won’t be the same.
Daniel Lapin, Rabbi
High-Performance Ethics is a welcome ally in the struggle to restore respect for the dignity and morality of business. Instead of viewing ethics as an obstacle to success, High-Performance Ethics reveals the seamless integration between the two. Every business professional can benefit from this volume’s performance-enhancing prescriptions.
Dr. Stephen R. Covey
This is a truly wise, remarkable book! Comprehensive in scope, beautifully written, compellingly illustrated, Cantrell and Lucas illuminate the mind, heart, and soul of high-performing leadership. Wondering whether it’s worth buying and reading and applying? Just study the inspiring chapter outline and listen to your conscience for the answer.
Howard Dayton CEO
High-Performance Ethics is a must-read book authored by two people who have lived these principles in the rough-and-tumble world of corporate America. Wes Cantrell and Jim Lucas have done a masterful job of clearly and practically communicating what it means to be a person of integrity in the marketplace. Read it and you won’t be the same.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin
High-Performance Ethics is a welcome ally in the struggle to restore respect for the dignity and morality of business. Instead of viewing ethics as an obstacle to success, High-Performance Ethics reveals the seamless integration between the two. Every business professional can benefit from this volume’s performance-enhancing prescriptions.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781414365343
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,363,333
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Read an Excerpt

High-Performance Ethics

10 Timeless Principles for Next-Generation Leadership
By Wes Cantrell James R. Lucas

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Wes Cantrell and James R. Lucas
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-6534-3


Chapter One

Principle 1

First things Only

You can be great with the right priorities

The first principle of high-performance ethics (HPE) targets priorities. It requires us to get the right things in the right order. This principle is a challenge to set our minds on things that matter, rather than on the mundane and fleeting—or even on the things that matter, but not as much.

Plenty of experts have highlighted the vital need to get first things first, to focus on the important (not just the urgent), and to guard time for faith and family. But HPE leaders know that in addition to being obvious, these ideas are merely an entry fee. They're necessary but not sufficient. They don't tell us what's important, or how much time to spend on it once we figure it out.

In business terms, "first things only" means taking the time to define what's really important to the life and health of our organizations. If we get this principle right, everything else will fall into place—and if we don't, everything else will fall apart. There are only a few "first things," not a hundred or a thousand, and once we find them we don't take our eyes off them for a second. First things only means crafting a worthy vision and mission, agreeing on values, and deciding who we are and what our organizations should exist to do. As we act on this first principle, we begin by helping our people to focus on big things and broadening their vision before we narrow their focus to the business at hand.

Most organizations don't have passion—certainly not at the front lines. It can't be trained. It can't be bought. It can only be released by designing an organization in which people consider it wise to invest their lives and talents. Even competence, as important as it is, can't be developed much if passion and talent are lacking. As we forge a shared vision and mission together with our employees, and define important values and behaviors, we ignite and direct the passion in our organizations. Only first things stir greatness.

Start with a Powerful, Shared Vision and Mission

Leaders have the power to implement this principle at the organizational level, first by bringing everyone into the vision and mission development process, and then by bringing competent people who share the vision and values into the organization. Each individual must also act on this principle—choosing to invest passionately in the vision and mission, upholding the organization's values, practicing the behaviors that exhibit those values, and working with competence. Get the organizational and individual elements of this principle into alignment, and the organization will have a powerful culture that produces world-class results.

As a leader at Lanier, Gene Milner was a man who had a plan and knew where he was going. In 1965, I was visiting my parents in Georgia. Gene called and suggested we have dinner while I was in town. I met him at the old Marriott on Courtland Street in downtown Atlanta, and over dinner, Gene decided to tell me about his plans. Ten years into my career, I was now the district manager in Baton Rouge and had begun to do quite well. That night, Gene shared with me his dream for the future of the company. Whether or not he shared his thoughts with anyone else is unknown to me. But he told me in no uncertain terms that we would buy our major suppliers. They were weak and we understood distribution, which was more important in our industry. (When I asked about 3M, Gene said we would only buy their copier business, not the entire company, which was certainly more reasonable!) First, we would become a national company, then international business would come later. Gene had big plans, and he made me privy to his thoughts that evening. Needless to say, these were really big plans for a company whose total revenue was only about $12 million at that time. I bought the vision hook, line, and sinker! My thoughts rushing to this planned success, I was extremely excited as I returned to Baton Rouge. In my enthusiasm, I talked to my fellow employees about our future, and they caught my excitement and enthusiasm. At our Christmas party that year, they gave me a present, which I still have on the wall of my office. It's a walnut-inlayed orange-peel map of the world. When they gave it to me, they said, "This is your territory." Evidently, they shared the vision. Years later, every single thing Gene talked about over dinner in 1965 actually happened, clearly demonstrating the power of vision. We bought all of our suppliers and became a national company. Later, with the acquisition of 3M's copier/fax business, we became an international player. All of these acquisitions made it possible for us eventually to become a $1.5 billion company.

HPE leaders believe in the power of vision and are willing to share that vision with people "down the line." When our people catch the vision, they will fuel their teams and the organization to achieve it.

There truly is power in shared vision and mission, and in answering the big questions first: Where are we going (vision), and what will we do to get there (mission)? Vision means purpose: Why do we exist? What is our long-term future? And mission is a set of clearly defined "critical success factors": What are the things we must do, and do well, if we intend to achieve our vision?

Simply having a vision and mission and passing out copies will not be enough. Working with countless leaders and organizations, I have seen how values are lost and opportunities are missed when these priorities are considered to be in the domain only of brilliant, charismatic people at the top. The power of vision and mission is multiplied many times over when our people participate in developing and enhancing that vision and mission with us.

When we move from informing to involving people in the process of creating the vision and mission, everyone begins to think about first things only, opening our organizations up to the potential for unimagined success. Unfortunately, many leaders are reticent to include their people in discussions of first things, and thus forfeit the success that could be theirs.

The night he shared his vision with me had been an exception for Gene. He was not naturally one to discuss goals, objectives, and strategy. He had always been inclined to tell people what to do, but not why. Some of his orders were hard to understand because of this style. He certainly never put anything in writing about vision, mission, or long-term goals. I believe he didn't want to be pinned down. In addition, he tested others' loyalty by this question: "Will they follow my directions regardless of what I ask?" In the late 1970s Lanier's first vision and mission statement was put together. As president of Lanier, I personally did most of the work heading the project to develop it. When I showed it to Gene, he said, "Don't waste your time on stuff like this." But I remembered how powerful our discussion of vision had been for me years earlier, and I wanted to include our people in a similar discussion about Lanier's vision. We began using this vision and mission statement in high-level presentations. One of the most notable was the presentation to the Harris Corporation when we sold the company to them in 1983. They were particularly impressed with our vision and plans. Personally, I felt a great sense of satisfaction knowing that I had a strategic part in laying the groundwork for the company's future.

What's the use of having a vision if no one shares it? Few people want to be sold on someone else's vision, and the ones who do are most likely to be passive followers rather than active participants. HPE leaders seek robust discussion, debate, disagreement, and a general donnybrook to make the vision and mission the best they can be, and to ensure the highest level of investment in them. One person's vision isn't enough for all of the excellent people who will be needed and expected to fulfill it.

A Powerful Vision Demands Powerful Values

With a shared vision and mission established, we can begin to identify the values and behaviors that will characterize our organizations as we journey toward the goal. How will we act and interact so that we can actually achieve our vision and mission?

Hicks Lanier, one of Lanier's founders and its CEO, respected my values, and he let me know it in his unusual fashion. Once when we were discussing the need for a traveling service representative, he recommended someone who was competent as well as quite open about his Christian beliefs. "Put Paul in that job," Hicks told me. "He doesn't drink or chase women, so he won't get in trouble." Paul didn't take the job because he wanted to be home with his family, but he would have been a great choice. There were several traveling reps who did get in trouble. The temptations on the road are many, and only someone with strong values can survive. That's what Hicks was looking for.

People know our values, whether or not we advertise them. The longer they work with us, the more people will see and feel the organization's real character. As with vision and mission, integrating values and behaviors into the organization's culture requires that we define them through an inclusive process.

This process needs to include robust discussion of what the values are and how they should look in practice. If we don't define the behaviors that exhibit our values, people will attach their own meanings to them. The net result will be that we have no shared values. Lists of single-word values are so generic that they are almost meaningless. For example, loyalty can be defined either as "don't rock the boat," or (better) as "love the boat so much you'll rock it if there's a problem."

We Need People of Character and Competence

If we can agree upon why we're here, what our critical success factors for achieving our vision are, what we value, and how we will act and interact, we're ready to consider the next important priority of organizational life: bringing in people who have character and competence. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what we believe if we don't also deliver results. "Show me your faith without deeds," noted an ancient writer, "and I will show you my faith by what I do."

We must select leaders, mentors, partners, and employees who have proven character and competence. These men and women will provide good counsel out of their experience, as well as through knowing us and understanding what we expect. As Wes likes to point out, if you're hiring a pilot, you first need to know whether he can fly the plane. Character is a wonderful and needed attribute, but if he doesn't know how to pilot the plane, there's no need to interview him. Of course if he doesn't have character, he might make poor safety decisions like getting drunk before flying.

I learned the hard way that we must carefully investigate both character and competence. People must have both attributes—character and competence—if we are to build a group of wise partners and counselors. The same thing is true in the hiring and promotion decisions leaders make every day.

Few leaders know how to identify either character or competence. Character is "a person's characteristics, the mental and moral features that distinguish that person from others, a person's moral strength and quality of reputation." In the world of business, character is what makes you you, what makes you smart or dull, good or bad, strong or weak, and delightful or obnoxious to others. It's the most important feature of every person, but very few leaders put forth genuine effort to look for it. In a recent survey, 75 percent of employers said they don't screen effectively for the job applicant's moral character. Is character hard to discern, and even harder to measure? Of course. But this is no reason not to try. Without a sense of someone's character, we can only hope that he or she will be a fine employee, and plan to correct any deficiencies on an ad hoc basis. This is most assuredly not a formula for building high-quality, unbreakable performance.

Competence means more than just knowing how to "do stuff." Competence means knowing how to do something well, how to focus on what's most important, how best to add value, how to perform a task fearlessly, and how to do it with confidence and ease and comfort. It includes setting, meeting, and exceeding high standards of performance and quality, standards that are ever evolving and rising, and being able to do this because we're ever evolving and rising.

Rather than focusing on character and competence, leaders often tend to ask the wrong questions because they feel hamstrung by legal technicalities. Many want to shorten the process because they just need to "get someone on board." But this results in far too many slots being filled with people who have neither the character nor the competence that we need. Some leaders fail to do right because they have too few people of character, and they fail to do well because they have too few people of competence.

Organizations often fail to prioritize character and competence because "human resources" departments often fail to understand that their first priority is people. They too easily put legal issues, policy formation and enforcement, and detailed transactions at the top of their list. If they spent more time working the human side of their organizations, they would probably need to spend much less time on legalities (committed people generally don't sue) and policies (committed people generally want to do the right thing). Putting first things only means building values-driven—rather than compliancedriven—organizations.

If we have the right people—people of character and competence, believers and winners—who have a mutual, passionate commitment to shared vision, mission, values, and behaviors, we can relax our focus on the tools of control and management. Too many leaders spend their energy focusing on a small percentage of bad apples rather than on the bushels of good ones.

I felt that Hicks Lanier and Gene Milner were both control freaks, but I concluded that I did not have to pattern my management style after theirs. At the same time, I learned a lot from both of these men. We can always learn from others—the things we do not want to emulate as well as those qualities that we do want in our lives. They were attempting to establish their own superiority; maybe they felt that they needed to do so in order to maintain control. I began to see that the pathway to outstanding leadership requires us to build relationships with our people based on trust and integrity. My desire as a leader was to serve my team members just as we did our customers. I wanted them to be motivated with a vision for a bright future, so I tried to paint a picture of the future and then put them into that picture. I saw that it was important to make sure that they had the resources to do their job, and I tried to offer helpful suggestions rather than constant criticism. After all, if I found it necessary to criticize a person constantly, I probably had the wrong person.

Terms like "chain of command" and "direct reports" are the language of control and subservience. As I've told thousands of leaders, if the first thought that enters your mind every morning is I need to manage X, the second thought should be I need to fire X.

No amount of control or criticism can produce passion, commitment, dedication, creativity, or anything else of deep and sustainable value. Life is too short to spend time fixing character defects or trying to conjure up competence out of thin talent.

What if alignment is poor or non-existent? Is it always moral or profitable to try to "fix" things to get alignment? HPE leaders know the answer is "no." Fixing things can be a huge distraction and an incredible waste of time. It can lead to a net reduction in performance (by misdirecting us and keeping sub-optimal associates) and a watering-down of ethics (by misspending our time and keeping people tied to what they cannot or will not embrace).

To know if a fix is the right answer, we have to find strong answers to questions like these:

>> Has this person exhibited any interest in, or passion for, who we are and what we're trying to accomplish? Does this person care?

>> Has this person shown initiative in mastering our message? Does this person "get it"?

>> Has this person shown an interest in others, in helping them develop and achieve?

(Continues...)



Excerpted from High-Performance Ethics by Wes Cantrell James R. Lucas Copyright © 2007 by Wes Cantrell and James R. Lucas. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword by Steve Forbes....................xiii
Introduction: Ethics & High Performance: The Remarkable Connection....................1
Principle 1: First Things Only You can be great with the right priorities....................17
Principle 2: Ditch the Distractions You've got to keep your eye on the ball game, not the score....................35
Principle 3: Align with Reality Never claim support for a bad cause....................53
Principle 4: Find Symmetry Without whole-life symmetry, your life is on a crash course....................69
Principle 5: Respect the Wise If you can't honor the savvy, you're in the wrong organization....................87
Principle 6: Protect the Souls You can't climb very high on the backs of others....................109
Principle 7: Commit to the Relationships Without your partners, big wins are a pipe dream....................127
Principle 8: Spread the Wealth If you take theirs, you'll lose yours....................149
Principle 9: Speak the Truth You can place a premium on truth and kill the grapevine....................173
Principle 10: Limit Your Desires You can find a greener pasture, but it may be artificial turf....................195
Conclusion: Ethical Leadership for the 21st Century....................209
Afterword by Zig Ziglar....................227
Appendix: The Source of the Core Principles....................229
Acknowledgments....................241
About the Authors....................244
Endnotes....................247
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2007

    A reviewer

    You know when Steve Forbes, Stephen Covey, and Zig Ziglar all give a book rave reviews, it's going to be good. High-Performance Ethics exceeds expectations--it's packed with practical information about the seamless connection between ethics and high performance. The chapter on whole-life symmetry is indeed worth the price of the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2007

    A connection no one else has made this clearly

    Everyone is talking about ethics today, and everyone has always been concerned about performance. Here is a book that ties the two closely together. Rather than co-existing, this book says these two concepts can and should feed off each other. At a time when too many people divorce ethics from performance, and others reduce ethics to laws and rules, this book is surprising and a breath of fresh thinking.

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