When I first started working in Luxembourg, about 10 years ago now, one of the Managing Partners of a top firm gave me a piece of advice: “I operate with one rule, if you don’t want something to end up on the front page of a paper, then don’t do it”.
While it sounded alright, at the time it seemed a bit much – I was from London and I wasn’t used to the size of the market. He was a Partner at a tier one law firm and I thought it was probably more key for someone with that position; after all, in London people get away with things they shouldn’t all the time. It’s so big, you can hide in plain sight.
Over the years I have come to understand the wisdom of such a message, especially when working in a small market, with close competition, close client relationships, close contact. Here in Luxembourg, you go for breakfast at the weekend, you sit opposite your client by accident. You drop your kids off at the same nursery school as your service provider. Try doing that when you’ve just spent an hour tearing them apart, because you were having an off-day in your last meeting.
Human relationships are important. They say everything about you. They speak for you. Even if you’re not directly involved in someone else’s business, you hear what happens anyway. In a small market, integrity makes, or breaks you. When you are good, this is great for you here.
People know that what you do to others, you will do to them in time. You can’t have integrity with one person, while you are behaving badly with another. Integrity doesn’t work like that. No, the way you treat your suppliers, is the way you eventually treat your staff, your clients, even your partner at home.
Most of the things that you think and feel never hit the wider market. You could be a perfectly pleasant person over the phone, but the things that speak volumes, are your actions. Those can not be removed. There will always be hearsay, rumours. The stories of companies changing, the same way that they always do. I have seen many companies go through hard times, good times, great times, we all have. We’ve all heard about the success stories and the people who came and went that time. The only thing that you really know, is the advice that the Partner gave me that day.
Actions, you and your company’s actions, your responses, your behaviours, your relationships.
Actions speak louder than words.
Rana Hein-Hartmann, Executive Director – EMEA