Align leadership decisions with your values (Guest commentary)

Use 'internal compass' to guide decision-making
By David Benzel
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 10/17/2007

James Burke was the chief executive officer of Johnson & Johnson in the 1980s during Tylenol’s biggest crisis to date. When contaminated Tylenol made it on to store shelves in Chicago, Burke insisted on pulling the product from every shelf in the country to ensure the public’s safety. It was a very expensive decision but, in the long run, it led to high praise and increased levels of trust for Johnson & Johnson because the company did the right thing.

While the easier, less expensive decision would have been to just pull the product from Chicago stores, or perhaps statewide, it wasn’t true to Burke’s values.

Everyone has a built-in compass that offers values for decision-making. These evolved out of the messages we received from parents and other influencers, and tend to sound like, “Mind your Ps and Qs” and “Say please and thank you.” Just as a mechanical compass shows magnetic north, an internal compass shows “magnetic north values” that should be considered whenever you have crucial choices to make.