Sustaining Values and Ethics in Organizations

Some of my friends say that I am getting more philosophical and spiritual nowadays during conversations – hm… I am getting older! If you are a regular reader of this blog, you would have noticed that I am very much attracted by the Indian IT (Information Technology) business magnate Mr. N R Narayana Murthy, commonly known as NRN. His inspirational and motivational words are second only to Mahatma Gandhi, for me. NRN’s speeches on Values and Ethics in organizations motivates me as an Indian software professional, while Gandhiji’s words motivates me as a proud responsible Indian. I am happy that I am working for the organization where NRN is the Chief Mentor, and I live in India where Gandhiji is the Father of the Nation.

Gandhiji is respected in the world as a symbol of Peace and non-violence. But how many of the Indians follow Gandhiji? Very few. We lack leaders like Gandhiji in modern India who can motivate and lead people by example. We remember Gandhiji only during his birth/death anniversaries, Independence Day and Republic Day.

Though India has a lot of industries in different areas including IT, I get to read about Values and Ethics only in speeches and interviews with Mr. NRN Murthy. Not even other Infosys leaders like Nandan Nilekani, Mohandas Pai, Shibulal and Kris Gopalakrishnan talk about these subjects. It seems only NRN has the mandate to talk about this! When NRN Murthy retires as Executive Chairman of the Board of Infosys Technologies, I sincerely hope that he will continue to oversee that Values and Ethics are continue to be given top priority and Infosys continue to be the most respected Indian company. I also hope that rest of the leaders will also talk about Values in their speeches and interviews.

It is a tough job to get all employees in an organization to understand the company’s value system and philosophy. Value System is the backbone of a company to stand steady on its feet and grow. If there is any broken link either in the top management or in the unit level management, all the employees coming under the tree will be in the dark. Maintaining Value System in smaller and start up companies is not a difficult task. As the organization grows very fast – by adding a lot of freshers and laterals – how long the company can adhere to its Core Values? Even if organizations have lateral induction programs, it takes time for the laterals, especially in the middle management, to adhere to the current company’s philosophy and core values, because they are already used to a different culture. This deviation from the company’s culture affects the employees badly. This is a difficult job for management to ensure in order to sustain respect.

Gandhian values were deemed lost by ‘modern society’. I hope it does not happen with Infosys Leadership when NRN retires! It is a real challenge to maintain fairness in the exponential growth environment. Best wishes to Mr NRN Murthy and Infosys. Let us hope that Infosys will continue to be Powered by Intellect and Driven by Values.

Following are some of the comments by Narayana Murthy on Importance of Values and Trust in Organizations.

No single person is indispensable. It is important that you give challenging engagements to deserving people, whether they are young or new in the organization. Youth and empowerment are the keys to scalability and longevity.

Every situation is what you make it to be. Confidence is half the battle, and leadership is making the impossible look possible. Speed, imagination and excellence in execution are the only three context-invariant and time-invariant attributes for success.

The trust of employees is the most important ingredient for successful leadership. To gain the trust of people, there is no more powerful leadership style than leadership by example. The world respects performance and action, not rhetoric.

I have realized that if you want to look smarter, you must surround yourself with people smarter than you. Everybody needs incentives to perform. Money is not the only motivator; respect, dignity, fairness and inclusiveness are essential to get the best out of employees. Every employee must feel an inch taller when talking about the company.

Being transaction-oriented in every decision avoids groupism. An emphasis on meritocracy and data-orientation enhances the confidence of employees in the fairness of the corporation. We believe in the adage, In God we trust, everybody else brings data to the table.

Unless we make a difference to the society and earn their trust, we cannot be long-term players. Therefore, in everything we do, we must ask ourselves whether we are adding value to the society around us, regardless of where we are — US or India.

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