Are you for sale and if so what’s your price?

by Alan Hosking: Publisher of HR Future, South Africa's human strategy magazine, and a Leadership Renewal Coach for senior executives.
The most basic principle in business is that nothing happens until somebody sells something. Yes, business is all about sales to generate revenue, whether it’s the sale of a product or a service.

This is often something that people in large organisations don’t fully understand. For example, someone who is responsible for running the company’s payroll is not selling anything, but may not realise that, in order for there to be any money to pay staff, somebody has had to sell something – and a lot of it, if the company wants to grow and be profitable, and pay its staff competitive salaries.

But it’s not only businesses that are selling something. The people working for those businesses are also selling something – their skills and expertise. In agreeing to work for a company, a person has effectively offered their knowledge, skills and expertise to the company in exchange for a monthly payment.

That’s all well and good, but sometimes people sell things they are not supposed to “sell”, like fake ID books, fake drivers’ licences, lucrative contracts to unqualified providers, employers’ products on the black market and the like. They have decided that the money to be made out of such “sales” is worth it. Any sale is based on the reward being greater than the risk. In their opinion, the money to be made is worth the risk – the price they might have to pay if they’re caught.

But they’re not planning on getting caught, so all is fine!

Unfortunately, when they make the sale of these illicit products and services, they don’t realise that they have also sold their integrity, honesty and good names. And once you sell your integrity, you never stop selling it, because you have to lie to cover up what you are doing. You have to continue with the deception to ensure you are not found out, and you are forced to keep selling (your honesty) and keep selling, and keep selling...

How much money would tempt you to sell your integrity, honesty and good name?

At what price would you stop the potential customer and say, “OK, that’s a good enough deal, I’ll do it”?

If you’re prepared to even consider a price, you’re about to fall into the moral equivalent of the Big Hole in Kimberley, a hole from which you will probably never get out.

Define your values for yourself because your values will define you. And, if you decide that the values you consider important, like honesty, are actually priceless, you should not – ever – set a price on them. Once you’ve made that decision, the rest is easy. When you’re offered money to sell your soul, you will not even be tempted, because you know who you are and what your values are, and you know that there is no price tag on them.

Your values are like the crown jewels – priceless and irreplaceable. You can’t sell them and think, “Well I can always buy myself some more.”

Every country, every business and every community needs people who know what they should sell and what they shouldn’t sell. I urge you to become one of these people if you aren’t already one. It all depends on who you really want to be – an ethical person or an unethical person. It’s entirely your choice!

Useful resources:
HR Future
HR Future is South Africa's only independent, most forward thinking human resource magazine with the richest content wealth of HR related issues on the continent of Africa to help executives recruit, manage, train, reward and retain the best talent.
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