Is There Hope for High Integrity Leaders?

April 14, 2010

Chapter 8 Pg’s 207-209 Lead With Love By: Gerry Czarnecki

 The negative conclusion of the previous section should not be where we leave the discussion of integrity. There is little doubt high integrity leaders should have a strong commitment to integrity, and therefore, we cannot assume they will be unable to change an organization from within. The previous section sounds like a particularly pessimistic view of changing an organization with rotten values. The good news is organizations can change, and recent studies reflect that American corporations are increasing efforts to improve their cultures. According to the 2005 National Business Ethics Survey, which surveyed more than 3,000 American workers, 69 percent of employees said their companies implement ethics training, which is a 14 percentage point increase from 2003.

 Tragically, much of the change that occurs in organizations, as in the world of politics, results from a crisis. Often the behavior predicated on the lack of integrity encourages or precipitates a crisis. Many organizations have found a way out of a crisis because leaders, either from within or from without, have committed to change. If the crisis is severe enough, the entire culture can be shocked into a dramatic shift. It is important the cancer of lost integrity is not so pervasive that the organization is populated by only the weak or the $awed. One example of an organization that lost its way at the top is

Hewlett-Packard (HP). This organization has very high standards and a rich culture of commitment to a value system known as the “HP Way.” It appears much of the culture remained intact, but not at the top. The tragic story of HP’s apparent illegal practice called “pretexting” demonstrates that even an organization known for its virtuous business ethics can be polluted by a breach at the top. The scandal that ensued caused many to leave the board and the organization, and several individuals, including the former chair of the board of directors, were indicted in California. Those individuals appeared to have strayed from the company’s tradition of sound values and integrity. However, the strong culture that exists deep into the organization has reportedly survived and seems to be working with the new leadership to save the company from demise.

 The HP story suggests that an ethical culture at the bottom of an organization can eventually prevail. If integrity is a value that has positive influence on the organization, then hopefully, the lack of an integrity culture at the top will eventually lead to an organization’s failure. If that is true, then the good leaders at the bottom can overcome the “bad leader” at the top, hence invalidating the Law of Bad Leadership. The mission of restoring integrity within an organization may be influenced by its size, complexity, and geographic dispersion, but it can be accomplished more easily when the top fails than when the entire organization fails.

 Some organizations manage to mask their lack of integrity for a surprisingly long time. The Enron story is once again a perfect example. Enron had been the darling of the investment community for decades, and it took a financial crisis to bring the house of cards down. In the case of WorldCom, it took the courage of an internal auditor to speak up and tell the Board Audit Committee she thought there was “something

wrong” with the accounting. In the final analysis, neither Enron nor WorldCom survived as stand-alone entities. The message is clear: eventually the “bad guys” get caught, but it is difficult for outsiders to see that a corporate culture lacks integrity. The good leaders from within must be the organization’s salvation and cause others to commit  to the value of integrity.

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Can a Leader Behave with a Commitment to Integrity Despite a Lack of Organizational Integrity?

April 8, 2010

 Chapter 8  Pg’s 206-207  Lead With Love By: Gerry Czarnecki

 The simple answer to this question is ”yes!” My behavior does not need to be controlled by anybody else but me. I am responsible for my level of commitment to integrity, so if I believe in a set of values, then I can and should do what I believe to be right, irrespective of the organization’s views. If I truly believe, then I will not be distracted from my path.

 In theory, our individual beliefs should dictate our behavior; however, we are undeniably influenced by the “tone at the top.” It is clear that what an organization’s top leadership establishes as the norm of behavior will eventually become the norm within the organization. If the culture at the top of Enron was one that said, “Do the deal, no matter what the cost,” then every person in the organization would have been influenced by that culture. The senior leaders of an organization may not fully realize it, but their impact on others is enormously powerful.

 So, what can I do as a leader if I do not believe in the “kill for the deal” culture? Can there be a “sub-culture” that says, “Not all deals are worth doing if they harm others”? One could argue that, if I believe in my principles, I will prevail. But the corrosive nature of the described culture would make it virtually impossible to survive in that type of organization without acquiescence to the organization’s values. Eventually, the contradicting value will be expunged by the leadership behavior and, in particular, the reward system. If the leaders value “cutthroat competition,” then that is the behavior they will reward, and eventually that is the behavior they will get. Any “rogue” ideas by members of the organization will be driven out.

 Let’s go back to the question “Can a leader value integrity in an organization that does not?” The answer is “yes, but not for long.” If an individual leader behaves in a way that is inconsistent with the acceptable behavior, eventually that leader will change behavior and become “one of them.” Or the individual will fail by the organization’s standards and will leave or be !red. Ultimately, the realistic and highly pessimistic answer to the question is “no!” Call it the “Law of Bad Leadership”: bad leaders at the top will drive out good leaders at the bottom. Eventually, the organization will end up with only those who sell out to a lack of integrity or those who never had any in the first place.

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A Culture of Integrity?

April 5, 2010

Lead With Love  Chapter 8 Pg’s 204-206 By: Gerry Czarnecki

 Have you ever worked for an organization whose values you thought were flawed? What did you do? Did you stay and just ignore the circumstances? Did you quit? This is a tough issue, and there are no easy answers. The dilemma we frequently face in the arena of ideas is there are many views, philosophic or simply opinion that differ. If I am a current-day political conservative, I probably believe in the primacy of the individual

and individual initiative. On the other hand, if I am a political liberal, I value the use of society to support the weak individuals collectively. These two positions establish likely behaviors and set up potential conflict for any individual who might have a view of society that differs from the one currently dominant in the political party in power. This difference in views has much to do with the political arguments we hear in a variety of public media. Which side is correct? On a more abstract level, this question cannot be answered. If I believe in the position of the conservative, then I am convinced I am right and that the society should follow the path that flows from my conviction.The other side of the argument is wrong, in the conservative opinion, and vice versa.

 The core lesson here is you do not need to have an untruth to create an integrity problem. A simple disconnect between the values of an organization and those of the individual could result in an integrity violation. Consider an organization with extensive behaviors that prove to you it does not honor its customers. You come to that conclusion because you see the organization always charges the highest price the market will bear. You, on the other hand, have a deep sense that all organizations must be committed to offering customers the very best service at the very best price. How do you reconcile the organization’s behavior with your own value? In this case, a classical economist could easily conclude that the organization has a core value of profit maximization and it actually has an obligation to its shareholders to charge the highest price the market will bear.

  Hence, the behavior of charging the highest price would be consistent with a core value of the enterprise, and yet violate your sense of values. According to your value of fairness, the corporation should charge a lower price and certainly not always all the market can bear. If you believe strongly in this value, you could potentially find yourself troubled by the organization’s decision making and might even view it as evidence the organization has low integrity. Ironically, an organization with this profit maximization goal would probably believe anybody not working toward maximizing shareholder profit would be committing a breach of integrity. Our philosophy on values and the core concepts of right and wrong may differ, but each of us in the workplace will eventually be faced with situations that require value-based decisions. There will be times when our personal values appear to conflict with the organization’s values. When they do, we will inevitably be faced with the need to reconcile that conflict, resolve it, ignore it, or walk away from it. The irony is many organizations do not have a clear expression of their values, and consequently, their employees or prospective employees have no way of knowing if the corporation’s values conflict with their own personal values. As an individual with a set of values, it is imperative you understand as much as possible about the organization’s values before you join it, because if there is a wide disparity, it

 will cause you great conflict and pain. A conflict of values is difficult to resolve. If you have a strong commitment to a value that is inconsistent with an organization’s values, it may actually be a personal violation of integrity for you to remain in the organization. The organization also would probably be better off if all those who did not subscribe to its values were to leave. Indeed, any employee who did not behave consistently within the value structure probably would be viewed as creating an integrity breach.

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INTEGRITY—Begin Every Action with a Commitment to Integrity

March 30, 2010

The rash of horrendous scandals that have plagued corporate America in recent times has put a spotlight on the integrity, and lack thereof, among today’s business leadership. Seldom in the history of the twentieth and now in the early twenty-first century has there been a period of time in which corporate travesties of this nature have captured the attention of the American public. The result has been a huge loss of public confidence in corporate leadership. Leaders in corporate America are now ranked near the bottom on evaluations of trust and respect, even lower than politicians.

 This situation has created severe angst in corporate boardrooms and has incited a strong determination to regain the trust that American consumers once had. Many in corporate America protest that the current public opinion resulted from just a handful of corporate leaders who made serious missteps and that the rest of the leadership community has been unfairly tainted by those mistakes. Indeed, only a small number of leaders have been accused, indicted, and convicted of corporate malfeasance; however, that does not disprove the view that the leadership of America’s business community cannot be trusted. A large segment of our society has concluded that the typical corporate leader follows the Gordon Gekko philosophy of “greed is good.”

 The same people tend to believe the pursuit of financial reward drives corporate leaders to do whatever it takes for the corporate compensation system to work in their favor and that their (potentially) short tenure as CEO or senior executive will be richly rewarded for the substantial risk they take in assuming that perilous position. Far too many CEOs face the prospect of a one- or two-year tenure and consequently arrange or negotiate terms of compensation systems that are not affected by the quality of their performance. Unfortunately for corporate America, the erosion of corporate integrity has created a burden for all leaders that will be difficult to carry in the coming years. Once the public’s trust is lost, it is a huge challenge to regain it. Time may heal the wounds, but scars will remain. Trust and mutual respect are fundamental to all human relationships. Without trust, our relationships with customers, shareholders, associates, and vendors will be difficult to sustain. When there is a basic level of trust, the parties to a business relationship behave much differently than when that trust does not exist. Trust allows us to have enjoyable and efficient relationships as we pursue our organizational goals.

At the heart of trust is the commitment from every individual in an organization to behave in ways guided by a commitment to integrity. Our conduct must adhere at all times to the highest moral principles and professional standards. Truth, honesty, and fairness are not optional; they are mandatory. It may be challenging and occasionally unpleasant, but behaving with integrity is the only way to build trust and achieve success. Integrity and the trust it inspires provide great comfort to those who have business relationships with us. A breach of integrity forces our business partners to rely on testing and other controls that would be unnecessary if they had implicit trust in our behavior . Leaders must build relationships founded on a commitment to integrity. Unfortunately, our society makes that commitment difficult. It appears, even to the casual observer, that standards of integrity in our society have changed dramatically over the years. Under the traditional rules of early America, integrity was a core value of the society.

 Those were the days when a handshake or verbal commitment would be honored. Some believe the secularization of our society has diminished the impact of the moral and ethical standards established by the commitment to a religious belief. The “absolute truth” standard seems to have given way to the more “nuanced” view that answers are not simply right or wrong, but rather much more “gray.” The transparency of our society, with the media constantly watching and listening to every word, has caused politicians to avoid “telling it like it is” and opt instead to “spin the truth.” Most of us are so accustomed to political spin we seldom expect the words we hear to be a fully accurate reflection of the truth. A true commitment to integrity would require that we never spin anything.

Some argue one breach of integrity by a leader can destroy any trust associates might have. Others argue it is our ongoing pattern of behavior that determines how we are perceived. There is no doubt some people find it difficult to accept any misjudgment they perceive to be a breach of integrity. In a discussion on leadership and integrity at the Wharton Business School, Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express, said, “If your people believe you have the right values, they will tolerate a few mistakes. In fact, they will stay with you. They want to see that you are decisive and compassionate, because they are asking people to take risks, to take chances. But don’t confuse compassion with a reluctance to act decisively when necessary.” Leaders must balance their commitment to integrity and their commitment to love. Often leaders tell substantially less than the “whole truth” so as to avoid jeopardizing the psychological well-being of one of their associates. In the guise of caring and sensitivity, leaders may mask the full, candid, and potentially hurtful truth when communicating with their associates. Such caring is not love, and it often stems from fear that the truth will have painful consequences. Love demands the truth, and leaders must exercise their commitment to integrity if they are to be effective in their application of love during virtually every interaction they have with their associates. A candid counseling session only has meaning when the “candor” is expressed with love. Candor without love can be brutal and hurtful.

 Fear can influence a leader’s willingness to be candid or direct with associates during discussions about their performance. Leaders may fear reprisal from their associates, or they may be concerned their associates have legitimate reasons to question, doubt, or even aggressively challenge the accuracy of the observations. How many times have you as a leader provided feedback to an individual and found the subsequent conversation more painful than it would have been had you remained silent? Leaders who have had this sort of experience may try to avoid such difficult conversations in the future. In so doing, they fail to effectively lead (and love) their associates and the organization. If an associate does not receive your honest feedback, whether positive or negative, the result is the associate is being led with anxiety rather than love. The loving thing to do is to provide feedback that helps your associates find ways to improve their performance or behaviors. An entire organization suffers when leaders fail to have candid, direct, and meaningful conversations with their associates. Organizational performance reflects the sum total of individual performers in the organization. The leader is ultimately accountable for the quality of that performance. When a leader fails to provide meaningful feedback that is truly of the highest integrity, the organization is cheated of the potential for improved performance. Excellence cannot be achieved without the commitment to continually improving each individual’s performance. It is the leader’s responsibility to use every leadership tool available to maximize the performance against expectations set by the organization and its leaders. Leaders who have the highest standards of integrity understand this obligation to the organization and, irrespective of their contemplated fears, commit to taking high integrity actions.

Start with Your Comfort Zone

March 26, 2010

Chapter 8 Pg’s 191-193 Lead With Love By Gerry Czarnecki


If you do not consider yourself funny or good at telling jokes, focus on your sense of humor and what makes you laugh. Start with your comfort zone, and then expand on it. Make it a personal challenge to seek out humor and come up with creative ways to share it with your associates. Remember, humor is not just “funny”; it includes unexpected gestures that are encouraging and kind. Following is a list of ways that you can begin to incorporate humor into your daily life and work:

􀁴􀀁 Set the example for your staff.

􀁴􀀁 Smile, laugh, be upbeat and friendly.

􀁴􀀁 Take every opportunity you can to find humor in the day-today events.

􀁴􀀁 Tell a joke on yourself.

􀁴􀀁 Find humor in travail; find humor in success.

􀁴􀀁 Break the ice with a funny anecdote.

􀁴􀀁 Hold brainstorming sessions in which funny, wacky, and crazy ideas are encouraged.

􀁴􀀁 Ask your associates for anonymous suggestions on ways to

incorporate fun into their work, then select some and put them

into practice.

􀁴􀀁 Designate a humor ambassador.

􀁴􀀁 Arrange an office contest for something silly such as the best

self-portrait done with finger paint.

􀁴􀀁 Establish a casual attire day.

􀁴􀀁 Organize one fun outing each month.

􀁴􀀁 Create a welcoming ritual for new employees.

􀁴􀀁 Play “yes and …” to promote creative ideas.

􀁴􀀁 Recognize when stress levels have reached a high and call a


􀁴􀀁 Take the staff to lunch.

􀁴􀀁 Order in a pizza.

􀁴􀀁 Send everyone outside for some fresh air.

􀁴􀀁 Hold staff meetings in a variety of locations.

􀁴􀀁 Break up the routine with a surprise.

􀁴􀀁 Take the staff to see a comedy !lm.

􀁴􀀁 Give each associate a joke-a-day calendar.

􀁴􀀁 Subscribe to an online humor newsletter.

􀁴􀀁 Humor involves elements of surprise, exaggeration, and fun.

Think of ways to surprise your staff and encourage them to

enjoy the moment.

􀁴􀀁 Seek out humor in your own life so that you feel comfortable

when it’s time to lighten up and elicit a laugh.

􀁴􀀁 Attend a comedy club show.

􀁴􀀁 Read the strange but true news at

􀁴􀀁 Play with kids as they are sure to make you laugh.

􀁴􀀁 Visit a toy store.

􀁴􀀁 Practice random acts of kindness.

􀁴􀀁 Have the staff spend a day doing charitable work because it

promotes good feelings.

􀁴􀀁 Pay the toll for the car behind you and watch the driver’s

expressions of confusion and delight.

􀁴􀀁 Buy popcorn for the person in line next to you.

􀁴􀀁 Build a collection of funny cartoons, articles, bumper stickers,

jokes, photos, and stories, and share it with others.

􀁴􀀁 Give a surprise gift of recognition that must be passed on.

􀁴􀀁 Send humorous cards to associates on special occasions.

􀁴􀀁 Celebrate the holidays with themed decorations and parties.

􀁴􀀁 Organize a staff retreat at an amusement park.

􀁴􀀁 Post a bulletin board with jokes, quotes, and cartoons.

􀁴􀀁 Create a humor zone at work and fill it with toys and games.

􀁴􀀁 Use silly props because they’re so absurd they overcome our

programming to behave like adults.

􀁴􀀁 Have a backup plan for jokes that fall $at, such as “the problem

with that joke is that I outsourced the punch line to X” (X

being the company’s competitor).

􀁴􀀁 Take an improve class.

􀁴􀀁The next time you laugh, make it so loud that everyone around

you can hear it.

How to Incorporate Humor in the Workplace

March 24, 2010

Chapter 8 Lead With Love Pg’s 186-188 By Gerry Czarnecki

 There is no formula for incorporating humor into your business. You, your organization, and the individuals who work there are unique. Therefore, the First step is to make a personal assessment of your own humor quotient. Ask friends and family to give you an honest assessment of your “fun factor.” How and when do you most readily exhibit your humor? Use their feedback to determine ways in which you will feel at ease expressing your sense of fun and lightheartedness. If you are truly “humor-impaired,” seek a mentor to help uncover your sense of humor. Look for humor in everyday situations, as well as in reading material and interactions with others. Compile a humor library of jokes, quotes, cartoons, bumper stickers, articles, and stories that make you laugh. In moments of stress, take time to read one of the items again and share it with your staff. The result of your humor will not only be a pleasure for your associates, it will help you to release tension and maintain a positive attitude.

 The next step is to assess your associates’ personalities and the level of humor they currently display in the workplace. Consider what type of humor will be well-received within the organization. Wearing a clown nose to a staff meeting might not garner laughs; but breaking the ice by telling a joke on yourself could set the group at ease. Gentle, self deprecating humor is a way to demonstrate to others you are human.

 By showing you don’t take yourself too seriously, others will feel more relaxed and comfortable expressing themselves in your presence. Establishing your own precedent for humor is essential, as you must lead by example. You can’t expect your associates to embrace humor if you don’t exhibit that behavior yourself. The individual personalities of your associates will be affected by your attitude as a leader, and their attitudes are likely to mirror your own. A funny, quick-witted associate will eventually save the jokes for after hours if you frown or fail to laugh along with the others. A shy, quiet associate is likely to lighten up and become more spirited if you display a sense of humor and participate in the fun. Fun doesn’t function if it is not shared. This means that your personal commitment to the benefits of humor, and your own pleasure in sharing it, must be genuine. If you connect with your associates on a human level (and love them), you will instinctively want to celebrate their successes, share kind words, and alleviate tension. You will enjoy your role as a leader, and it will be evident in your attitude. As a result, you will elicit great attitudes and loyalty from your associates. If you feel isolated and lonely at the top, then your abilities as a leader will be severely compromised. #e fun factor is not just for your team’s benefit; it is for yours as well.

 The attitudes and environment in your organization cannot be changed in a day. It takes time and should be approached in increments. Consider your typical routine as well as your staff’s. In what ways can you introduce a surprise to break up the routine and make it a more pleasant place to work for everyone involved? If you have a weekly staff meeting in the conference room, consider holding it in a variety of different places. Invite the staff to meet at a local restaurant; when the weather is nice, set up chairs or blankets and sit outside. You can bring bagels to a morning meeting, or choose a different associate each week to order in a surprise snack for the team. If the group has to work especially late one evening to meet a deadline, send them all home with gift certificates for pizza delivery as a way to show your appreciation.

 Demonstrating your appreciation can take many forms, and the more creative you are, the more fun it will be. At Playfair, Weinstein likes to express his thanks by having flowers delivered anonymously to an associate. The accompanying note tells the recipient he or she is appreciated and should pass the flowers on in a half hour to a coworker he or she appreciates in kind. Such gestures are not expensive or grandiose, but they promote positive feelings and attitudes.

Why Don’t We Use More Humor?

March 19, 2010

Chapter 8 Pg’s 183-184 Lead With Love By: Gerry Czarnecki

 If Southwest and other big-name organizations are using humor and succeeding, why are so many leaders reluctant to do the same? The first reason is perception. They mistakenly believe that humor and laughter in the workplace means associates are not doing their jobs. They may also feel it is inappropriate and unprofessional. The second reason is personal. Many leaders don’t consider themselves funny, don’t understand the value of humor, and don’t know how to incorporate fun into work.

 The first reason is simply a misconception. Humor does not undermine work. To the contrary, it enhances an associate’s ability to perform. Humor provides a physical and emotional release, a distraction from negative emotions, such as anger or stress, and it enables us to see challenges from a different perspective. Laughter is contagious: it elevates the mood of those around us and creates a positive social interaction. Whether one associate is having a bad day or a team of associates is facing a difficult situation at work, laughter will temporarily divert attention away from the problem. The diversion will likely improve their ability to cope with the challenge. According to Weinstein, the positive effects of fun can penetrate into the “heart and soul” of an organization: For too many companies, building a team means creating a high-powered, smoothly functioning

organization that has plenty of muscle, but not much heart. It is the absence of the human side of business that depletes employee morale, and contributes to job dissatisfaction and burnout. By adding an element of fun and celebration to a team-building program, you can take an important step toward humanizing your workplace and creating a sense of heart and soul in your organization.

 Humor in the workplace involves some risk. By incorporating humor, you lighten the tone of the work environment. If this is taken too far, it can spin out of control and result in reduced focus and productivity.

 Humor also has the risk of falling $at or being offensive. Humor in the workplace is not about practical jokes and should absolutely not involve off-color or politically incorrect statements or behavior. As described by Warren Shepell, an HR consultant, “Humor has nothing to do with taking your job lightly, joking about your company not being a good place to work or joking about its products and services… Humor that works in the workplace has to do with attitudes.”