Tuesday, April 7, 2009

BB&T Corp & Principled Leadership

By: Joseph Norman

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to John Allison, Chairman of BB & T Corporation, deliver a talk about Principled Leadership at the University of Central Florida. Essentially he walked through the corporate philosophy at BB & T which he helped develop over the last decade.

The truth is that the people that have become truly successful in this world didn’t take shortcuts. They consistently did the right thing even in the face of adversity or lack of support from others. The 10 BB&T Values are a good model of how we can consistently do the right thing in our own lives.

Without further adieu:

Reality (Fact-Based). What is, is. If we want to be better, we must act within the context of reality (the facts).

Reason (Objectivity). We cannot all be geniuses, but each of us can develop the mental habits which ensure that when making decisions we carefully examine the facts and think logically without contradiction in deriving a conclusion.

Independent Thinking. All human progress by definition is based on creativity, because creativity is the source of positive change. Creativity is only possible to an independent thinker. Creativity is not about just doing something different. It is about doing something better.

Productivity. In a long term context and in a free market, the bigger the profit, the better. Healthy profits represent productive work.

Honesty. Being honest is simply being consistent with reality. To be honest does not require that we know everything. Knowledge is always contextual and man is not omniscient. However, we must be responsible for saying what we mean and meaning what we say.

Integrity. Principles provide carefully thought-out concepts which will lead to our long-term success and happiness. We should always act consistently with our principles.

Justice (Fairness). In evaluating other people, it is critical that we judge based on essentials. Individuals must be judged individually based on their personal merits, not their membership in any group.

Pride. Pride is the psychological reward we earn from living by our values, i.e., from being just, honest, having integrity, being an independent thinker, being productive and rational.

Self-Esteem (Self-Motivation). A necessary attribute for self-esteem is self-motivation. You receive from your work in proportion to how much you contribute.

Teamwork / Mutual Supportiveness. While independent thought and strong personal goals are critically important, work is often accomplished within teams. Each of us must consistently act to achieve the agreed-upon objectives of the team, with respect for our fellow team members, while acting in a mutually supportive manner.

Developing your own set of values is not an easy task, but it is a crucial one! My hope is that some of BB&T’s values resonate with you and help you make your own world a better place.