The vicious survival cycle that Lebanese corporates are stuck in comes at a price. To sustain their existence, they have to constantly bend the rules and outsmart the system, while suffering the inefficiencies and lack of vision that come from the absence of the state.
In short, corporates adhere to a short-term management style, winging most decisions in order to provide for the next day. This behavior is destructive to say the least, and its repetition develops bad habits and builds bad practices. It is only when you have a vision for your greater purpose that you begin to commit to long-term objectives. Corporates should be reminded of their purpose and develop their participative strategies in a wider national context accordingly—a challenging proposition in the absence of national policy.
The one industry that demonstrates how commitment to purpose pays on the micro and macro level is our banking industry. After the chaos of the 1980s, which left vulnerable citizens manipulated and impoverished, came the 1990s, and the renewed commitment and role of the banking industry was re-established and reinforced, putting at the disposal of the citizens reliable, trustworthy services that protected their assets with fairness, commitment to best practices, rigorous controls, and astute oversight. Adherence to such standards paid off, and the contrast that exists today between the financial industry’s space and the rest of corporate Lebanon is so clear in terms of both corporate performance and human resources welfare. Not only did the banking industry survive every crisis since 1992, but none of the serious participants stopped growing, while one bank which ventured into unethical behavior was quickly flagged and liquidated.
The integrity of our financial system’s health rests in the vision and character of Riad Salameh, the governor of the central bank. His ability to commit to the good that this industry brings to Lebanon alongside his mastery in identifying unnecessary risk without neglecting the development and growth of the industry, his consistency, his passion, and his hard work have allowed the banking industry to flourish and gain respect. All this was achieved by nurturing relationships, both nationally and internationally, and keeping things in balance for the national well-being.
Other industries that operate in less regulated environments can watch, learn, and mimic the success of our banking industry, and hopefully deliver to and protect all their stakeholders and participants in a manner we have come to expect from Lebanon’s banks.
Elevating our commitment to excellence pays, regardless of the uncertainties that plague our nation.