What do you stand for? It’s a simple question, but one you don’t often have to answer until you’re in a complicated situation.
My father always reminded me that the greatest asset we have is our reputation. When I graduated from Colorado State, he wrote me a note that I won’t forget: I have given you something to protect and cherish. It’s your name: Hottman. Whatever you do in life remember that your actions will impact how people perceive you.
He was right. And to take it a step further, our values – what we stand for – inform our actions.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the values of Bill Daniels. I never had the pleasure of meeting Bill but have long known about his business acumen – and the principles that guided his work.
The Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative carries forward in its work those eight principles – integrity, trust, accountability, transparency, fairness, respect, rule of law and viability. I’ve been thinking a lot about them since being named the 2019 Bill Daniels Ethical Leader of the Year by the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative (DFEI) at the University of Colorado Denver Business School.
At Plante Moran, our values and our work similarly start with integrity. And those values guide how we make decisions. Every day we all come across situations where we have to make a decision. Your principles will guide how you make those decisions. During my career, I have found that people like Bill Daniels, who make decisions that focus on the needs of others instead of their own, make strong, ethical decisions.
Strong values make decisions easier, but at the end of the day it’s about the people – our employees, our clients and the community. We want to make sure our community is better off because we are here. We want to make sure our clients have all the information and advice to navigate tough decisions. We want to make sure our employees have the tools and support they need to succeed. That focus on the needs of others is the basis of servant leadership. I have been fortunate in my career to be surrounded by many people who believe in serving others, not themselves.
By definition, if you are a leader people will follow you. You can’t create a true following using your title alone. If you put the needs of others before your own and you’re clear about what you stand for, people will follow you.
So, how do you want to be remembered?
Bob Hottman, partner at Plante Moran