To succeed, a business must have a superior vision and purpose to work
toward and the strategic focus and direction of effort to achieve them.
The Objectivist virtues can enable people to direct their actions toward
the attainment of a company’s goals and values, including the
maximization of owner value. Virtuous actions can lead to better
customer service, gains in productivity and efficiency, higher employee
retention rates, reduction in employee absenteeism, improvement in
employee morale, better communications both internally and externally,
honest and reliable internal and external financial reporting, the
flexibility necessary to adapt to market conditions, increased
innovation and the more frequent and more timely launching of new
products and services, higher sales and profits, sustainable competitive
advantages, greater flourishing and happiness of the firm’s employees,
and so on.
Virtuous behavior is required from employees at all levels who realize
that business is a natural and moral means by which they can satisfy
their needs and attain their actualization as individual human persons.
Virtuous employees are energetic, productive workers who: (1) focus on
reality; (2) think objectively, rationally, and logically in applying
relevant knowledge; (3) ask clear, pertinent, insightful questions and
listen carefully; (4) search for facts in their total context before
judging and evaluating business situations; (5) use time efficiently and
effectively; (6) organize their lives and work toward accomplishing
worthwhile endeavors; and (7) set value-producing goals and strive to
A virtuous employee begins by understanding what the facts are and does
not evade the distinction between the real and the unreal. Evasion
detaches a person from reality. Virtue begins with the effort to
confront reality as it is. Given that there is no standardized algorithm
for making business decisions, an employee needs to use his reason to
make rational, logical decisions based on the facts of reality. One
needs to apply conscious, prudent, rational judgments and choices in
various business contexts in order to identify, execute, and implement
profitable and ethical internal and external exchange transactions.
Much of morality in business falls under the rubric of honesty. Honesty
means being in accord with reality. Honesty is basic to the structure of
human relationships in virtually all contexts. Dishonesty is
self-defeating because it involves being in conflict with realty.
Morality in business involves objectively recognizing and dealing with
customers, employees, creditors, stockholders, and others as autonomous
rational individuals with their particular goals and desires. The trader
principle should govern the course of all human interactions because
voluntary value-for-value relationships are consonant with human nature.
Honesty is closely related to the virtue of justice. Justice, a form of
faithfulness to reality, is the virtue of granting to each man that
which he objectively deserves. Justice is the expression of man’s
rationality in his dealings with other men and involves seeking and
granting the earned. A trader, a man of justice, earns what he gets and
does not give or take the undeserved. For example, a virtuous manager
must make sure that customers get what they pay for. In addition, he
needs to identify employees for what they accomplish and treat them
accordingly. Employees should be objectively appraised and compensated
based on their contribution toward achieving a firm’s mission, values,
and goals. A virtuous manager will discriminate among all those that he
deals with (i.e., customers, suppliers, workers, etc.) based on relevant
qualities and personal merits such as ability, competency, performance,
and character. He will not improperly discriminate based on irrelevant
characteristics such as sex, race, nationality, and so on.(2)
Although individuals can learn from each other, the fact remains that
each of us thinks and acts alone and is responsible for his own actions.
Independence requires the acceptance of one’s intellectual
responsibility for one’s own existence, requires that a man form his own
judgments, and that he support himself by the work of his own mind. It
is not a corporation’s fault if someone does not attain his goals. Each
employee is responsible for his favorable or unfavorable outcomes in a
business setting where responsibilities are defined by, and arise out
of, his particular role. Of course, a goal may not be completely under
one’s control. It may require interdependence with or on other employees
who contribute to whether or not someone attains a goal. Positive change
and innovation in a company are based on the creativity of logical
independent thinkers. It is through such employees that a firm discovers
and invents ways to improve the fiscal bottom line, thereby increasing
the firm’s market value.
Integrity is the refusal to permit a breach between thought and action.
It means acting consistently with rational principles that will lead to
success and happiness. In business, an employee’s rationally made plans
are integrated with his actions in order to bring values into existence.
From more of a macro viewpoint, we could say that the integrity of a
business is maintained if the purpose for which it was created is
followed (i.e., the maximization of owner value).(3)
Productiveness, the virtue of creating material values, is the act of
translating one’s thoughts and goals into reality. Productiveness
comprises an important existential component of virtuousness and is a
responsibility of every moral person. It involves a commitment to
creating value and to being self-responsible for bringing what one needs
and wants into existence. Workers in a business are committed to
producing wealth and bringing about well-being by taking the actions
required to achieve the firm’s mission. Profits are an indicator of
productive work on the part of people who want to achieve, produce, and
improve well-being. Because people differ with respect to their
intelligence, talents, and circumstances, the moral issue becomes how a
particular employee addresses his work given his facticity, including
his potentialities and concrete circumstances. In a business, the
Randian virtues (including productiveness) offer a set of principles for
getting the most value from one’s work. Rand’s Objectivist ethics
recognizes that one searches for meaning and purpose in the various
components of one’s life (i.e., one’s work life, love life, home life,
social life, and so on). Each of these is an end-in-itself and a means
to the end of one’s life in total. One’s life in total is an
end-in-itself and an ultimate value.
Pride, also called moral ambitiousness, is a man’s commitment to
achieving the best in his life, thereby effecting his moral perfection.
Pride is the reward we earn by living by the other six Objectivist
virtues. A businessman’s drive for success is a result of his taking
pride in the business portion of his life. Each employee needs to work
in such a way as to be able to be rightfully proud of what he has done.
Work is needed not only for sustenance, but also for one’s psychological
well-being—it can be viewed as a means by which one can maintain an
active mind, attain purposes, and follow a goal-directed path throughout
his lifetime. Through work, one can achieve one’s highest potentials.
Doing work well in accordance with the goals of a firm (which are
aligned with the personal goals of the worker) can cause an employee to
positively enhance his self-esteem.