When Values Are Tested

Having values is easy. But delivering on those values — especially when they impact the bottom line — is the mark of a true leader, says Marjorie Yang, chairman of the Hong Kong-based manufacturer Esquel Group, during her recent talk at the Sir Gordon Wu Distinguished Speaker Forum .

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I think a leader must have values but must also have the ability as well as — this is important — the courage to stick with that conviction and carry through.

A lot of people have values, and they get tested. Also, there's a lot of noise that says, “You can’t do that. It’s not good for business.” So do you have the understanding, the ability, to analyze for yourself and say, “Hey, is this really true?’ Everybody says if you adopt an environmentally friendly way of manufacturing, you will go bankrupt. You have to have the ability to think through, and then have the ability to deliver.

Having value itself is easy. But having the ability to deliver ... I think that’s why universities like Columbia are so important because it gives you the skill that you need to live up to your own value system.

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