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Terry Paulson Keynote Speaker & Author

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The Power of a Page

by Terry Paulson, PhD, CSP, CPAE

In a world of constant change there is great value to values. Core values can be both your anchor in the rough sea and the lighthouse that helps illuminate a positive and principled course through uncharted waters. True principles are not for sale. They provide the internal standard you need to be consistent, to build trust and to forge strong character.

As a speaker, I often learn the most from audience members who have the audacity to teach me back! One such teacher was Russ Walden, President of Ridgecrest Properties. Russ liked to limit his business philosophy to one page of core principles. The last thing he would do before hiring someone was to let them see his page of business values. He made his position clear: "You don't have to follow this, but it's important for you to understand that I will. At the end of the year, I also expect you to have your own page, one your own people can expect that you will use to lead."

Russ Walden's list of "mostly true and mostly plagiarized thoughts on the management process" included such insights as:

  • Ethics are non-negotiable.
  • The personal dignity of each individual is inviolate. A manager who often breaks this rule will eventually self-destruct, but I will probably get him (or her) first.
  • If you aren't having fun in your work, fix the problem before it becomes serious; ask for help if you need it. If you can't fix it and won't ask for help, please go away before you spoil the fun for the rest of us.

Russ Walden not only shared his page; he lived it. When a top executive sexually harassed a part-time worker on the job just before they were to begin selling units in a new development, he used his one sheet of values to sort out his choices. He knew letting the executive go would cost the company in the short term, but his clear statement on he values made no room for making exceptions for top executives. He had the man go. He was rewarded months later when he asked a customer why they had picked their development. The customer reported knowing a woman who had been attacked and that the company had fired the executive involved. He added: "Any company that would support their people that way, certainly will take care of my parents if they live here."

Honor is a gift you give yourself, your people and your customers. What core values would you want on your page? As you live your values, take heart in the words of Mark Twain, "Always do what is right. It will gratify most of the people, and astound the rest."

Dr. Terry Paulson is the author of They Shoot Managers Don't They? and Meditations for the Road Warrior. As a speaker, he helps leaders and teams make change work.

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