“Norms of behavior are how we behave and expect others to behave. For a free society to function, beneficial norms of behavior, such as honesty, respect for others and their property, making a contribution, being responsible and taking initiative must be widely practiced. Norms of behavior, when combined with shared values and beliefs -- what is deeply cared about -- comprise a group’s culture.
“To function effectively, any group of people, whether a society or organization, must be guided largely by general rules of conduct, not specific commands. Leaving the particulars to the person doing the work encourages discovery. It also enhances adaptation to changing conditions.”
Amen to that. Here we see, in a nutshell, how ethical behavior courts success in the business world (or in any world, for that matter) and why “win at any cost” actually drives success away. We see why the smart businessman cultivates a culture of virtue. We see why the 10 Guiding Principles that define Koch’s “Market-Based Management” has this at No. 1: “INTEGRITY: Conduct all affairs lawfully and with integrity.”
As Koch explains:
“Employees with insufficient virtue have done far more damage to companies than those with insufficient talent. Several years ago, a supervisor in one of our plants decided -- even after training -- that a new government requirement wasn’t beneficial. He saw no need to comply with it. We self-reported his violation and also terminated the employee. Both virtue (that is, living by our shared values and beliefs) and talent (the specific skills and knowledge required to excel in a specific role) must be present.”
It might be difficult at times to stand up for virtue in a world where far too many people cut corners. But as Charles Koch’s book shows, we can’t cheat and then expect to succeed at anything -- other than hurting ourselves, our loved ones and everyone around us. If there’s one thing Koch Industries demonstrates daily, it’s that nice guys don’t finish last. By combining integrity with talent and drive, they create genuine success -- and win the only race that really matters.