What makes an organization successful is a combination of its people and outputs. Consider this: it is not just what they do or the benefit of a great output, but it’s how they do it and how it is delivered. Members, constituents, and even consumers today are seeking a more relational experience, not just a take it-and-go transaction. It is the “how” not the “what” in serving and providing to others that creates meaningful value.
To describe an organization’s “how” factor, we can look to ethics at all levels – from the individual employee/volunteer, to the structure and systems in place, to the organizational culture and public representation. The ethics, values, and “how” we do things around here – at all levels and in all forms – feed into reputation and effectiveness.
“Good” to the first power: The Good Employee
Each employee/volunteer comes with their own set of values, traditions, norms, etc. that have been shaped and molded since childhood. As individuals, they each use a different approach in how they go about their work and how they make ethical decisions. Some follow the written rules. They follow the employee manual, code of conduct, or By-Laws. Some value their relations with others and want to make sure everyone is treated fairly (what’s “best” is not always what’s “right”). Some are goal-oriented and pay more attention to the end result rather than the means to get there. And, some care about what others think; how they appear and what their image projects.
“Good” to the second power: The Good Structure
The best way to unify a staff/board is to create a set of core values. The beauty of this is to acknowledge each of the individual values they bring, but then to identify the common ones that all can embrace and work by. A good structure within an organization has a set of core values that are in the open, tested, and celebrated continually. There is a strong commitment to the mission of the organization – everything that is done is filtered through this, using the values as the “how” we go about doing what we do.
Additionally, good structures have established ethics training & development programs, whether in-house or by an outside trainer or firm. Providing ethical dilemmas, role-playing scenarios, and other models can help all levels of leaders to gain awareness and confidence in resolving issues. Celebrating “good” behavior can be motivating and rewarding for employees and volunteers. Acknowledgement in various forms can be contagious and help to perpetuate ethical behavior.
“Good” to the third power: The Good Organization
Transparency and organizational integrity are components of good organizations today. Providing complete data and information on decisions or plans (when appropriate) is a standard expectation from those served. Establishing track records of following through on commitments, being accountable, and showing care and responsibility in actions and decisions all represent strong organizational integrity. How an organization behaves, treats its people and members, and works with others is a reflection of its ethics and values.
In summary, “Good” to the third power shows the strength in the connection and integration of ethics and leadership from the individual, onto the internal processes and organizational structure, and ultimately to the impact of those served.