Why Core Values Matter

2019-05-30T09:03:13-07:00 June 23rd, 2017|Tags: , , |

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

In the May 11, 2017 edition of The Economist, there is an article entitled “Management Lessons from an American General”. The article focused on General Stanley McChrystal, who led the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq and, upon retirement, set up a consultancy. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates described McChrystal as “perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat I ever met.”

The following is an excerpt from the article. “Firms can adapt in complex competitive environments, he argues, only if information is shared and teams of capable staff—not just the boss—can take decisions. It also helps greatly with recruiting to say that junior staff will have clout early in their careers.”

The same day that I read this article, I saw an interview with a former FBI agent in which the interviewer asked her opinion concerning the effect of Director James Comey’s firing on employees. She expressed hope for the future of the FBI based primarily on the fact that all new employees learn immediately and are reminded repeatedly that they must adhere to two core values, namely (1) always uphold the constitution of the United States of America and (2) always conduct themselves with utmost integrity.

Clear core values shape culture and empower delegation of authority.

Every company I joined had very strong, clearly articulated values or organizing principles that shaped its culture and enabled the delegation of authority to relatively young people. For example, on day one at Citibank, I learned “the two imperatives.” First, my independent “credit initial” was sacrosanct. That is, I must be personally persuaded that any loan proposal I initialed was sound independent of the views of others (including my boss). Second, I must deliver my budget. Since the latter always necessitated making corporate loans, I could not satisfy the first imperative by simply not taking risk!

The foregoing has direct relevance to my conduct as a follower of Jesus in the marketplace. During the three years preceding his crucifixion, Jesus was under constant attack from the religious leaders of the day. Besides fearing Jesus’ rapidly growing influence with the masses, these leaders were concerned that Jesus was advocating disobedience to the law of Moses, which comprised hundreds of detailed rules.

In fact, Jesus did not nullify the law but rather clarified the spirit behind the law. In response to a question as to which was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 37-40)

The two organizing principles for my life as a follower of Jesus are to love God and to love others. Easy to say, not always easy to do. However, according to the Bible, Jesus bore the punishment due me when I fall down in these areas. That is the grace of God and it is very good news!

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.