Ask Bracher (Questions & Responses)

Economic (181-200)

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Question: (E-181)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on April 20, 2005

"Press has its own responsibility as well"

How can an unproven charge like "a Wendy's Restaurant served a customer a severed finger in a bowl of chili" be reported as fact by newspapers, radio and television? Is this an integrity issue?

Certainly, this hideous saga is convoluted. But, let's start with the facts. An individual has accused a restaurant of serving a section of human-finger in her bowl of chili. That is the truth. She made a claim.

Telling the world about it violates no principles of integrity. Freedom of the press means exactly that. Reporters have responsibilities. A good place to start is to review the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Yes, this particularly fateful luncheon story has taken on a life of its own, being catapulted into national and international news. Media decision-makers may have felt compelled to reveal the charge against the Wendy's franchise in San Jose, California. They certainly understood the ramifications. Each day since March 22, 2005, the disgusting story creates a growing economic challenge for Wendy's Restaurants. The owner, in whose location the "chili" debacle is said to have occurred, faces financial reversals, having already been convicted by the "court of public opinion."

Freedom has a price tag and so does integrity. People and companies, including restaurants, can behave inappropriately and there are consequences.

Even so, had this incident not been reported widely, would the plaintiff have elected, so very quickly, to withdraw her suit against Wendy's? Thanks to the "tenacious" reporters and their follow-up, integrity questions have surfaced. Was the motivation for this "incident" simply an opportunity for an enterprising "serial filer of frivolous lawsuits" to pursue easy money from an organization with deep pockets? Or, did the restaurant violate food quality standards?

Lawsuits like this one, whether well-founded or frivolous, create suffering. Employees will work fewer hours as business continues to decline. Fortunately, there is an upside. Freedom of the press will drive further "vetting" of both parties involved. Accusations presented and assessed, in the shadows, sometimes called maliciousness and backstabbing, are impossible to resolve constructively.

So, having the press shine the spotlight on the "chili debacle" will likely lead to clarity and integrity. Wendy's Restaurants will be found innocent or guilty and so will the individual making the charges.

My own management consulting experience with leadership teams follows the constructive media model. Confront challenges with integrity. If a member of a team has a concern or frustration with a colleague, one effective way to achieve resolution is for those in conflict to deal directly and resolve the problems. In this "finger-in-the-chili" situation, the media is driving for resolution.

Truth, justice and integrity are worth the wait and the media can offer constructive assistance.

Question: (E-182)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on April 27, 2005

"War should be last resort to solve problems"

You write about integrity-centered leadership. What is your position on war?

A special friend of mine, a retired Colonel, spent his 30-year career defending the United States, on five continents. He has seen of the horrors of war, up close and personal. He carries shrapnel in his body in several places and has been shot more times than he cares to remember. He even risked his own life to protect a colleague by smothering an exploding hand-grenade. He tells me war is the last resort because it is an awful way to resolve differences. Lives, families, dreams and legacies are destroyed when leaders declare war. My personal position on war is to pray for the safety of those who lay down their lives to protect and preserve the way of life my society has afforded me and those I love.

The integrity of life itself is placed at risk when war becomes the path forward, for any reason. Yet, the history of the United States of America was created from an armed conflict that challenged taxation without representation and oppressive "foreign" intervention. Without the American Revolution, there would not have been a United States emerging at the time of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Hamilton, in the last quarter of the 18trh Century. Was that war necessitated by integrity-centered leadership issues? Millions would say it was.

War is appropriate when it its purpose is to fight poverty, disease, intolerance, drunk driving, and irresponsible behaviors including violence, ignorance, corruption, and graffiti, killing in the name of religion and drug abuse. With more thinking time, there are probably other powerful battles that would make it onto my "sanctioned" integrity-centered wars list. War is the escalation of disagreement beyond the willingness of opposing forces to resolve differences peacefully. When positions are hardened, by either side, and conversations stop, which often means that relationships have broken down, conflict is inevitable. Individuals experience "war" everyday when they get fired, divorced, arrested or jailed. In global conflicts, soldiers and civilians are wounded and killed by rockets and bombs. Do integrity-centered leaders choose war? Yes.

When children are no longer singing, it may be time for war. Adults owe the next generation a wholesome place to be loved, nurtured and educated. Those responsible for young people must create and preserve an environment that is free from destructive tension, fear, hunger and homelessness. When that is not possible, then it may be time for actions to be taken to restore a safe-haven where children can again laugh and sing, play and learn. When the music of the children stops; when youth no longer have confidence that those around them care for them as people, not property, as the promise of the future, not as cheap slave-labor for today; then it may be time to demand changes, with little willingness to compromise. Integrity-centered leadership can choose to re-shape the future by enabling all the children to sing again. Neither integrity nor safety is free.

Question: (E-183)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on May 4, 2005

"Media spotlight unjustly shines on Letourneau"

Where is the integrity of a married thirty-five year old public school teacher, Mary Kay Letourneau, who has a sexual affair (twice) with a thirteen-year-old, who was one of her middle-school students? Now she is a celebrity - made famous by the media!

Parents send their children to schools to learn. They have every right to expect the school environment to be safe and nurturing, and for those teaching to model constructive behaviors. When teachers and leaders of youth are out of control, creating uncertainty and instability, then changes will be made and disciplines increased. Teachers are taught appropriate standards of behavior that are never to be violated. Doctors, lawyers, bankers, and many other professions have written codes of conduct. Teachers, the stewards of value and content education, are expected to be role models, inside and outside the classroom.

The Seattle-area school teacher, Mary Kay Letourneau, broke the law along with the rules of common sense and decency, was convicted of second-degree rape and required to serve seven years in prison, having just recently been released. Today, she and her "child-lover" are the "toast of talk show television." How can a sexual predator, convicted of rape, twice, achieve celebrity status? The media made this educator-turned-criminal into a "hot" topic, perhaps for no other reasons than increased ratings and revenue. How disappointing!

Had this type of teacher-student seduction been initiated by a male teacher, impregnating a 13-year-old young woman, how long might the rapist have been placed behind bars? Upon release from prison, how many responsible news shows would make his story nightly "fodder" for other demented "copy cats" to emulate?

Letourneau's behaviors are similar to actions taken by pedophile priests. Seducing and abusing those who are not in position to protect themselves; whether in the classroom, the prayer chapel or the work-place, must be stopped. This sexual affair, between a female school teacher who was 35 at the time, and a 13 year old male, is indefensible. What possible good can be served by providing a convicted felon with a media platform upon which to revise her own sordid history, repackaging her second-degree rape story in order justify her criminal behavior? Has she found a media partner to help her write and sell her book and then produce her made-for-television movie?

One middle school teacher's depraved behavior, taken center stage by the media, discounts the hard work and dedication of an overwhelming number of educators. We know that real news is "the news you and I need to keep our freedoms." Real news does not sensationalize and glamorize the activities of an emotionally unstable educator with a sexually-active child, day after day, and week after week.

It is time for the media to celebrate the contributions of millions of teachers who, for their entire careers, quietly and diligently instruct, counsel and mentor tens of millions of young people, with uncompromising integrity. These teachers provide safe and nurturing environments for young people because they know integrity matters.

Question: (E-184)

"Baseball, drugs and government regulation"

The institutions of baseball - players, unions and owners - continue to be reluctant to address the performance-enhancing drug issue. Why? The answer seems to be greed. Players want incredible salaries; owners want to fill stadiums with popcorn-eating, thirsty fans with money; fans want something to cheer about! Drama helps to fill those seats and pay those dollars as seen by the fans following the incredible feats of the last few years. But, the question remains: were the athletes competing honestly? How will we know for sure? If they cheated, will their records be tainted? If not an "asterisk," why not?

Baseball's inadequate response to the steroid issue fails to live up to the fair play image as part of its values It also undermines the moral fabric of society by destroying the promise of integrity in sports competition. Professional baseball has been slow to apply strong sanctions. Now, members of Congress accuse baseball of decaying from the inside. When the Senate of the United States spends its time, and our money, addressing baseball's top brass about common-sense decency and care of the human body, then that amount of their time is not available for other business: e.g., national security, terrorist threats, jobs and training, health care and education.

From the first time I ever wore a baseball glove, my parents and coaches said to play fair. What happened? Do professional athletes, their union officials, and the team owners need the "adult supervision" of elected officials and their staffs? Do they need a host of expensively-constructed government rules and regulations? It would appear that greed has turned what once was called our "national pastime" into a sham of fraudulent behaviors protected by scam artists and charlatans. How sad. All of this makes headlines while anxious parents are telling children to "quit squabbling and fighting" and behave like adults. Really? And, which adults?

In the late 1990's, values such as integrity, loyalty, honesty and openness, came to be viewed as conservative relics of the old economy. Society became pre-occupied with winning and winners, admiring superstars who became rich and powerful celebrities. Little notice was given to how some might have "gotten there," endorsing those holding the records, without qualification. If there had been undiscovered cheating along the way, the response was: well then, so what? The drive for recognition (pleasure, wealth, fame or power) captured our society. Some made it to the top and celebrated their success with opulent life styles.

Too many athletes drifted toward self-destruction as growing numbers, from high school up to the professional ranks, raced to use performance-enhancing drugs to gain an edge. Competition on the uneven field of play was between those who followed the rules of fairness and those who were short-term victors, record holders and celebrities. We now know that "miracle muscle drugs" have damaged bodies, minds and lives. All the while, those who could have initiated regulation and control looked the other way. After all, record-breaking performances have been good for ticket sales and free agency. But, are we forgetting the fans, especially the young people? What is this teaching them?

Sports leadership spoke too frequently through hollow values to what sensation-seeking fans demanded. Perhaps the demands were unreasonable; maybe unattainable, without illegal substances. We may never know for sure. Something is horribly wrong when unreasonable demands are imposed upon the performer; whether as a chief executive of a public firm facing the earnings demands of analysts, or as athletes threatened with the early end to a career if their performances should fall below their drug-using competitors. Real leadership would address these issues, openly and with character, delivering what is appropriate and legal. Any other response lacks integrity.

As we begin the fourth year of the Twenty-first Century, sports leadership-including baseball-needs to rethink priorities. Unfortunately, certain prevailing structures promote the economics of convenience over the commitment of integrity-centered leadership, promoting artificially-induced athletic achievement supported by devastating dishonesty. Here is the bottom line: It should be common knowledge that free markets, including all participants in baseball, must regulate themselves or our government must, and will.

We say to baseball: For the sake of integrity and future generations of young people - please clean up your act. We need your sport. We simply need for the competition to exhibit the integrity of fair play!

Question: (E-185)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on October 5, 2005

"Loss of integrity begins with just a single step"

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tse is quoted as saying "a journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step." What are the little things that young executives do that numb their consciences and lead them down the pathway to these colossal failures in behaving with integrity?

Stealing can start as simply of taking more than the agreed-upon time for lunch. Lying can be as easy as not alerting a potential customer of all of the weaknesses of a product. Cheating may occur on a golf course with reference to rolling a ball from behind a tree or shrub or making a questionable call (in order to win a point) about an out of bounds hit against an opponent during a game of tennis. Padding business expense accounts with personal purchases is a step down the slippery slope. Coming in late and leaving early, with no medical or personal emergency, is another form of dishonesty. Chatting with friends instead of attending to assigned duties is yet another violation of trust, a form of thievery. Tardiness at meetings, consistently, is a form of "stealing time from others" and is not only disrespectful, it is costly in terms of hours wasted in too-often "idle waiting" which in a most extreme interpretation is a flagrant violation of basic decency.

From this short list of "understandable and expected" so-called modern business behaviors, in some sick circles of free enterprise, there is an easy transition to more serious violations of the rules of social and economic responsibility. Legitimate business lunches evolve into events attracting friends and family for expensive dinners. These compromising executives feel the company really owes them for their sacrifices of time and hard work, and why not share their good life with people they like, even when no legitimate business purpose is served. Lying to customers, or simply allowing them to discover the weaknesses of the products on their own, may roll over into asking for kick-backs from suppliers. Since winning is the name of the game, beginning with "macho-behaviors" related to sports and even drinking - then undercutting, backstabbing, back-channeling and other ferocious and image-destroying activities are well within the attractive options open to these same folks.

Pretty soon, the busy and already-compromised corporate executive will be less likely to see any harm in asking for loans from the company for personal use. After all, who deserves a low-cost loan more than a highly-compensated top manager? If the deal is done "just right" it might be "forgiven" and that is certainly appropriate for those of economic privilege. Even if many lower level folks lose their jobs during tough business times, that is simply too bad. The power lunches, the extravagant parties, the luxury yachts, the elegant offices - all can become entitlements - unrelated to the productivity or the effectiveness of those engaged in leveraging the position for life-style perks and organizational impact.

Are business executives really this irresponsible? A few are. Read the headlines and then turn to the pages that list thousands of companies that are never discussed, never associated with fraud, greed or misappropriation of funds. Most leaders go to work to do a good job, each and every day. They are good stewards for their respective enterprises, whether in technology, medicine, energy, teaching, entertainment, construction, the military or government service. They play the game of life, fairly. They are not cheaters at card games, monopoly, or marriage. They are good to their families, support charities, and would never evade paying their taxes.

Addictions like lying, cheating and stealing are habit forming. The integrity of individuals can be measured in just how easily (and cheaply) they will compromise in order to win. When individuals will cheat for a dollar or ten, how vicious might they become when the potential rewards reach into the thousands and millions? Along time ago, a wise teacher suggested that those who were good stewards over a small amount could expect to be stewards over that which was much larger. Stewards are interested in taking care of that for which they assume responsibility, for the sake of all the interested parties, stakeholders, and would never compromise for self-serving gain. Prudent stewards, including those who are responsible executives, avoid the slippery slope because they know that integrity matters. Learning early the pitfalls of self-serving greed can generate great dividends for lives well-spent, organizations well-served and societies improved.

Question: (E-186)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on May 18, 2005

"Writer, reader see different sides of bias"

Media bias lacks integrity, right?

My first business mentor explained the difference between stubborn and loyal. When he asked if I knew the difference, I paused, and he took the silence as permission for him to define the terms: loyal is when you agree with me and stubborn is when you don't. We laughed, but I did get the point. He taught me many lessons, none more important than this insight about single-mindedness, to be contrasted with narrow-mindedness. Perhaps bias fits into the same distinction, namely, it depends on whether or not one agrees with what someone else says or writes. Bias, defined as prejudice, in any circumstance, lacks integrity. But, before being too harsh on media bias, let's assess the implications.

Some people avoid thinking for themselves. Perhaps they lack the language skills, the time or maybe they are simply lazy. They prefer to have information interpreted for them. Savvy marketing professionals know how to package products, including headlines and stories, to attract customers. Unless or until more individuals are willing to research and study issues, whether economic, political, religious or cultural, then it should be no surprise that those selling news products will provide attractive, sometimes sensational, headlines, to increase mind share and market share. Is this bias or shrewd business?

A dozen years ago, I spoke with former North Carolina State University basketball coach, Jim Valvano. It was just before the United States was at war with Iraq, for the first time, and Coach "V" and I were talking about important lessons we remembered from our childhood days; his in a big city, New York, and mine in small towns in Indiana and Missouri. What was particularly interesting was his story about how his father had taught a valuable lesson about intellectual snobbery and bias.

Watching their Dad reading the color comics, one wise-cracking brother asked why Mr. Valvano read only the "funny papers" on Sunday. A long pause was followed by silence. Then the color comics were noisily folded in half and firmly placed on the lamp table next to their Dad's favorite over-stuffed chair.

Mr. Valvano, looking at his two sons with college degrees, reminded them that he enjoyed the comics because he had difficulty reading. He mentioned that he was glad that his sons could read better than he could; but that he enjoyed the comics, especially the pictures, because they helped his understanding of English, his second language. And, then he made a powerful point. "Cartoons are for those who don't read so well and editorials are for those who don't think so well." Famous Jim Valvano then told me that he and his brother were ashamed of their glib comments and immediately they apologized. Valvano intellectual bias/snobbery was extinguished.

Bias, by the media or individuals, can occur any time, seldom reflecting integrity. Drawing conclusions hastily, without thoughtfulness and thoroughness, will lead to errors in judgment. Bias and prejudice, of all types, must go away because integrity matters, in all situations.

Question: (E-187)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on May 25, 2005

"Hospitality workers need not play the parent"

Are hospitality employees responsible for "parenting" party-going teens, whether at proms or graduation celebrations? Recently some school administrators advised a hotel not to rent sleeping rooms to high school students attending a prom. What does such a naive request really mean?

Parents are responsible for their children and educators are hired to provide insights and nurture learning. Teachers are unable to do their jobs when they are confronted, daily, with out-of-control behaviors being modeled, sanctioned and financed by irresponsible parents. Teachers have been complaining that an increasing amount of their classroom time is being spent on discipline, not academic content. When human beings, especially younger people, are not provided with clear expectations and limits, then chaos is the outcome. Hormone-driven teenagers have the most need, with the least appreciation, for guidelines that clarify consequences.

At age 16, I remember arriving home later than agreed; at 3:30 a.m. versus my midnight curfew. My tardiness was met with a silent stare from my pacing and coffee-drinking father. His few words, beyond saying he was relieved that I was home safe, related to my need to be ready to do a few chores in two hours. Dad never was much with spanking or loud lectures. Guilt was a powerful five-letter word. Terms like responsibility and respect were sprinkled through Dad's comments about how one should treat even strangers, let alone parents. This particular late-without-even-a phone-call was serious. It involved my washing and waxing two automobiles in 98-degree summer heat in Missouri, starting at 5:30 a.m. Even today, I phone when I might be late.

There were times it would have been easier to receive a good "thumping" in place of Dad's stories about honor, loyalty and, yes, integrity. Once, attempting to impress friends, I exploded the muffler and manifold, with the turn of key, and presto, I made a roaring monster out of my parent's quiet four-door sedan. This poor decision involved costly consequences. I spent the summer following my junior year in high school working long hours handing over my paychecks to Dad for the repairs. This time I learned respect for borrowed equipment, including automobiles.

Parents and school administrators must get real and remain engaged. Hotels are not surrogate parents. Children see adults abdicating responsibilities in an ever-increasingly permissive society. Teachers are restrained from challenging family-sanctioned misbehavior. Heroes, for many young people, are media-manufactured. Some are spoiled celebrities and others are winners who lie, cheat and connive on reality shows.

For now, parents and educators, join arms and enforce constructive standards. Stand for integrity by showing up and supporting the values you admire. It is prom time. With approval from those in authority, take actions:

  • Get involved.
  • Offer to be a chaperone.
  • Prowl the parking lots.
  • Move around the dance floor.
  • Roam the halls.

Integrity, and our children, can be the winners.

Question: (E-188)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on June 8, 2005


Does anybody do the right thing any more?

Yes, and a case in point relates to a police report coming from Texas. The woman who did the right thing will probably never receive public recognition, but her story is commendable and reassuring. Over and over, we remind our readers that character is what folks do when no one is watching. And, you can restore your confidence in the goodness of people when you learn of the decisiveness, courage and compassion of this young woman. She was driving early one morning, at the speed limit, about 65 miles per hour, only to catch in her rearview mirror the sight of two cars catching up to her rapidly. She recognized that the speeding vehicles were weaving close to one another and she became anxious. Noting the cars were side by side, one in her lane, she knew to move to the right to get out of the way. As the vehicles passed she observed the drivers screaming and gesturing crudely to one another.

Returning to her lane, and proceeding directly behind them, only seconds later, one car bumped the other hard enough to knock it sideways and then smash into it again creating a horrible out-of control spin and crash. One car hurled crashing head on into the oncoming lane while the other driver sped away. Using her cell phone, the alert observer phoned emergency response professionals at 911 and then increased her speed until the other vehicle could be identified, including its license number. Returning to the scene of the accident, she saw police officers removing dead bodies; trying to reconstruct the accident. She was able to provide valuable information and learned later in the same day that the fleeing driver had been apprehended.

How many people would simply drive on? After all, who would know for certain who was there as a witness? Who would possibly question a person who simply stopped to wait for the police to arrive? Who expects modern-day drivers to place themselves at risk to gather information for those in law enforcement? Isn't that the job of police officers? In this instance, the ordinary citizen, a decent and caring young woman, accepted responsibility for making the world a better place and went the extra mile, in this case, probably several miles, at personal risk.

The lawbreaker (involved in a multiple homicide) is in custody. Whatever this individual says to explain the road-rage is simply unacceptable. Accidental murder with a motor vehicle is sickening. But intentional vehicular homicide is incomprehensible.

The good from this story is the integrity of one young woman. Her actions are a reminder to be responsive to the needs of others and a role model to do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

IF IT IS TO BE; (sometimes this is the truth) IT IS UP TO ME; AND YES, YOU TOO.

Question: (E-189)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on June 1, 2005

"Workers require integrity as well"

You write that leaders need integrity, but what about employees?

Integrity matters regardless of one's responsibilities. Leaders are important, but without integrity-centered followers, organizations cannot be effective. Organizations need committed followers who think, are self starters, carry out duties with energy and assertiveness, take risks and solve problems independently. Do you and the leaders of your organization proudly and energetically recognize and promote valuable, integrity-centered followers?

Almost twenty years ago, Robert E. Kelley, in the Harvard Business Review, described the attributes of legitimate followers. He mentioned that integrity-centered followers are not sheep that are passive, uncritical and dependent, lacking initiative. Nor are they yes people who appear overly deferential, spending lots of energy building alliances between and among other yes people and insecure managers. Integrity-centered followers are not passive, unwilling to challenge leadership. They do not play it safe, waiting to see which way the wind blows before making a suggestion or taking action. Integrity-centered followers do not adopt the slogan: "better safe than sorry." Long-term viability requires leaders and followers who are single-minded and hard working.

Effective followers exhibit many admirable qualities. They manage themselves well. They are committed to the organization; its vision, mission and culture. They stand tall and proud in support of the individual whose enterprise they serve. They build their competence and focus their efforts for maximum impact. They exhibit the Eight Attributes©: character, honesty, openness, authority, partnership, performance, charity and graciousness.

Enthusiasm, intelligence, and self-reliance cause followers to be effective. They are engaged without the need to be the star, always eager to work toward the achievement of organizational goals. Effective followers are motivated to be team players. Upfront about their ambition to get ahead, they desire to earn as they learn.

Effective leaders have the vision to set corporate goals and strategies, the interpersonal skills to communicate enthusiasm, combined with the capability to coordinate different efforts with the desire to lead. Effective followers understand and support organizational vision. They refine their social skills to work well with others and exhibit the strength of character to flourish without heroic status. These productive individuals possess the moral and psychological balance to pursue personal and corporate goals for those they respect and admire.

Perhaps the most reassuring realization about leaders and followers is the similarity between the two. Each exhibits initiative, self-control, commitment, talent, honesty, credibility, courage and integrity. Because you admire those who deliver your products and services effectively, and want them to continue being productive, then let them know. Integrity is essential throughout organizations and is sustained through careful hiring, thorough training. Effective leaders provide public and private recognition.

How well do you measure up as a leader and a follower? What steps are you prepared to take to improve?

Question: (E-190)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on July 13, 2005

"Movie reminds us of our 'Field of Dreams'"

Can a movie pass along values like integrity?

Yes. In the1989 fantasy movie Field of Dreams, the values advocated were admirable. Ray Kinsella (played by famous actor Kevin Costner) comes face to face with his father, John Kinsella, and the two of them ask important questions of each other. The ghostly father, John, presented in his youth as a professional baseball player, looks around the beautifully manicured baseball field and asks of the young farmer, his son: "Is this heaven?" "No," replies his son (Costner), "this is Iowa."

After a short pause, Ray, the son, appearing uncertain and perplexed, inquires of his father - "Is there a heaven?" "Oh, yes, there is a heaven," says Ray's father, John, "heaven is where dreams come true."

Kevin Costner portrays Ray Kinsella, a farmer who constructs a baseball diamond in his Dyersville, Iowa corn field at the repeated urging of a mystical voice that intones to him, "If you build it, they will come. . ."

Fellow actor in Field of Dreams, James Earl Jones, plays the l960's activist and writer, Terence Mann, summarizes the meaning of the moment for the Iowa Farmer, offering this insight: "Here we are today, longing for the past and for all that was good then, and could be good again." The movie makes the point that we can capture the best of who we were by being the best of what we know to do, now. Field of Dreams is about integrity, accountability and stewardship.

Earlier in the film, the young farmer is carefully watching his father, explaining to his wife that he "really only knew his father when he had been worn down by life." Once again, the message from the film is clear, life is a precious cycle and constructive relationships are what make it meaningful and hopeful.

Field of Dreams teaches: "What we do, both the good and the generous, quite often we do for ourselves." Giving can be a selfish act of caring. Exhibiting constructive behaviors: character, honesty, openness, authority, partnership, performance, charity and graciousness is an effective way of passing along life-affirming values. There is no substitute for being a positive role model.

Field of Dreams applies to the nitty-gritty challenges people face every day. Every individual is responsible for being a good steward, of land, ideas, friendships, family values. Dreams can come true. They have in the past and they will in the future. Providing the roadmap of integrity-centered living is the greatest legacy that can be passed along to our children and the grandchildren of our grandchildren. Our individual "Field of Dreams" is that portion of the world for which we accept responsibility. The relationships we build and sustain will be the true measure of who we are and how we operate. If you build them (substantive relationships); they will come. Invest the energy in people and savor those heavenly moments when your dreams come true.

Question: (E-191)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on June 15, 2005

"Racer's comments sound like a threat"

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon after having been rear-ended, causing his car to swerve out of control, knocking him out of the race said to Tony Stewart: "All I can say is that the next time Tony's holding me up, it won't be very long for him to be out of my way." How dangerous is a comment like that?

Threat of bodily harm, from competitors in automobile racing, can have legal ramifications. Jeff Gordon has now threatened a colleague; on the record. Obviously, his temper got the better of him and his reaction was inappropriate.

So, let's picture these two competitors in a future race. Gordon bumps Stewart and one or more cars crash causing a fatality. Jeff said he would get him out of the way, and causing a crash is not an accident. Intentionally causing a wreck at 200 miles per hour might be classified as vehicular manslaughter, or even premeditated murder. Jeff Gordon has set a disgusting example.

Could Mr. Gordon be charged with murder because he threatened to retaliate by getting the other person out of his way? Unfortunately, sporting events, games and entertainment are imitating life at its most gruesome level - brutality and mayhem. Athletic competition, at least early on, served to provide socially-acceptable forms of controlled combat, avoiding blood and death.

Today, career-ending cheap shots in hockey are matched in baseball with vicious slides into members of the other team. Pitchers purposely hit batters. Intensity becomes ferocity as frenzied fans devolve into modern-day "throw-backs" to a time when citizens asked for more lions to eat Christians in the coliseum. This acrimonious sporting atmosphere smells of gladiators, fighting to the death. Violence, in too many instances, has replaced finesse, professionalism, skill and sportsmanship. If maturity is grace under pressure, then Jeff Gordon (and lots of other high profile, spoiled athletes) has failed to live up to the best he could be.

So, what are the concerns raised by the Jeff Gordon threat?

  1. Competition requires a level field.
  2. Playing by the rules, all the time, is expected.
  3. A sense of proportion needs to surround all sporting events. Mass hysteria and mob scenes confirm the immaturity of the culture that fosters and tolerates such actions.
  4. Threats of violence are inappropriate in a civilized society, including the world of sports competition, especially when using a vehicle moving 200 miles per hour.
  5. Professionals do not threaten one another - ever.

So, how might integrity-centered behavior be encouraged?

  1. Boycott events and products that promote hate, hurt and mayhem.
  2. Support "performers" who are positive role models, purchasing their products.
  3. Communicate to sporting leagues and associations the kinds of behavior you approve for yourself, your children and grandchildren.
  4. Cheer competence, sportsmanship and athletic skill.

Replace jeers and "booing" with deafening silence for those who behave inappropriately.

Question: (E-192)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on June 22, 2005

"Patients must also be smart consumers"

How can Guidant Health Systems remain in business while delivering pacemakers that kill people? What can I do to make sure I don't die because of a faulty product?

Guidant has a history of irresponsible leadership and inconsistent product quality. This column addressed their malfeasance in July, 2003 when I wrote: Greed, whether for power or money (or both), is at the heart of this problem. Compromising health and life cannot be tolerated. Fortunately, such reckless endangerment seems to be the exception. Most manufacturers and, especially the ones associated with health care, test and monitor each product to guarantee both quality and safety. Our society safeguards us with many agencies responsible for testing products that affect our lives. Organizations that we have created and support test, on our behalf, what we drive, wear, eat and utilize in all aspects of our lives, specifically in areas related to health care. These processes are overwhelmingly effective.

Problems with Guidant's popular heart defibrillator have led federal regulators to start an inquiry into whether the company violated a corporate integrity agreement it signed in 2003. Indianapolis-based Guidant had signed the integrity agreement after a former Guidant, subsidiary, Endovascular Technologies Inc., pleaded guilty to 10 felonies and paid $92.4 million to settle criminal and civil charges in a case involving a device meant to treat abdominal aortic aneurysms. The Justice Department contended that Guidant covered up thousands of Ancure incidents in which the delivery system of the device had malfunctioned, including 12 deaths.

More recently, Guidant reported yet another malfunction to the Food and Drug Administration, but it did not inform patients and doctors for three years until physicians at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, publicly questioned the company's conduct. Guidant maintains that the device is highly reliable. Under federal law, a company must report any incident to the FDA in which its medical device might have caused or contributed to a death or serious injury, or if the malfunction is likely to recur. Guidant's reputation erodes confidence in the integrity of health care. This cannot be allowed.

So, before accepting potentially-risky health treatment recommendations:

  • Ask questions. Get second opinions.
  • Demand current information that confirms the quality and reliability of any treatments, including technologies, you elect.
  • Utilize this toll-free hotline: 888-463-6332; which will connect you with the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA can also be reached online at: The FDA addresses many concerns about technology, toxicology and health safety.
  • Research current news regarding issues related to medical devices and radiological health. Learn what products and services are working well and which ones are causing problems:

Forward additional health hotline suggestions directly to us - ( - so that we might pass along helpful resources and strengthen the integrity of health care delivery. Restoring confidence in health care's integrity is a must.

Letter to the Editor, published November 8, 2005:

When the Tylenol scare occurred years back, McNeil Labs stepped up, admitted the problem, pulled the product off the shelf and quickly communicated with customers.

The result was that Tylenol customers continued to hold the company in high esteem and sales increased rather than decreased.

This process was based on responsible management with a high regard for its customers as well as its own profitability. This proved that integrity matters.

I happened to see the June 22 "Integrity Matters" by Jim Bracher. A reader asked a pertinent question: "What can I do to make sure I don't die because of a faulty product?" I was wondering the same thing.

The concept of integrity has its roots in the relationship one has with family, friends and, yes, especially with customers. Integrity does matter. It is the cornerstone of trust. Will I trust a new device from Guidant, if one is offered?

I am the CEO of a Strategy Consulting firm that deals with corporate growth and profitability. I advise companies on how to be "customer centric" as a balance to internal financial/operational issues, as well as being the not-so- proud owner of an implanted Guidant cardiac defibrillator.

Your publication should be commended for printing Bracher's column.

Pete Bogda, CEO, ABA Consulting Inc.

Dallas, Texas

Question: (E-193)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on June 29, 2005

"'Integrity' book theft proves message needed"

Someone stole a copy of your book, Integrity Matters, during business hours at our Coast Gallery in Pebble Beach. Our "honor system" works, most of the time. Sadly, integrity doesn't seem to matter to everyone! Is there a moral to this story?

Integrity matters and there is a moral to the story. Gary and Emma Koeppel own Coast Gallery locations in Big Sur, Pebble Beach, Maui and Carmel and value our book, Integrity Matters. They sell copies to their customers, helping to expand the integrity conversation. Because of their efforts, more individuals are learning that "Integrity-centered leadership is the only reliable foundation for long-term success!" Now, we hear that a book thief has violated decency and stolen integrity. Say it ain't so!

In May of 2004, we launched our book, Integrity Matters , in bookstores and on Simultaneously, used copies of our brand-new book were advertised on the internet. How could this be? Just about every publisher, we learned, sends out hundreds of copies of new books to newspapers, magazines and reviewers. Certain mailroom employees recognize the packages, remove the books, list them online and pocket profits.

So, what would cause an art gallery shopper surrounded by expensive items to snitch Integrity Matters, a $24.00 book about constructive behaviors? Is this akin to hotel guests who steal Bibles provided, for free, by Gideon International? Did this petty thief need this particular book to develop a moral compass in an all-too-turbulent world? Did this small time crook lack the cash and simply turn to stealing out of desperation? We will likely never know.

But, let's get back to the concern raised by Gary and Emma Koeppel of Coast Galleries. Is there a moral to this story? Yes. The problem is thievery and the need to rebuild the architecture for the renewal of integrity-centered leadership. In the meantime, we need to figure out who sanctions stealing? Is it a careless parent who bragged about cheating on taxes? What do children absorb about honesty from family members who sneak home logo towels and robes from hotels? What values are being communicated when parents speed down the highway and risk harm to self, family, friends and strangers simply because no law officer is nearby?

Regardless of where and how individuals learn values; this book thief provides an opportunity for a constructive response. The integrity message needs to reach more people, immediately. So, what organization should become the "Gideon Society" for integrity? It is time to expand the integrity conversation, even if Integrity Matters, the book, must be provided to an entire generation, for free. The need is real and time is now. Who should be the sponsor? Readers, please tell us.

Question: (E-194)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on July 6, 2005

"Police officers strengthen, protect society"

Where are police officers when you need one? Don't you think they spend too much of their time writing speeding tickets instead of arresting real criminals?

Police work may be the most stressful job in the world. A policeman said: "Every day when I leave home for headquarters, I kiss my wife good-bye, aware that it may be for the last time."

17,000 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty since the United States was founded. Law enforcement personnel risk their lives, even during "routine" traffic stops. Officers writing tickets have been assaulted, shot, led on high-speed chases and hit by passing traffic. They never know when "routine" may turn violent. Since 1994, 1,649 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty. Immediately following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on America, there was a surge of support and respect for those who serve as police, fire and emergency personnel. Such appreciation is still needed, maybe now more than ever.

Excerpts from the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics pinpoint integrity-centered promises:

My fundamental duty is to serve mankind; safeguard lives and property; protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and respect Constitutional rights...regarding liberty, equality and justice.

I will keep my private life unsullied...constantly mindful of the welfare of others.

With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.

I recognize the badge of my office as the symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen enforcement.

Police officers support and strengthen society's integrity while protecting the rights of individuals. Misbehavior, whether in terms of violating traffic laws, selling illegal drugs or robbing stores, requires law enforcement energies. So, if it is more officers that are required to maintain civilized behavior, being fully staffed and available for even more monitoring, then citizens must discover ways to finance additional salaries. Raising taxes is one common approach. However, if increased taxes are not attractive, then more members of society must exercise greater self-restraint. It should be common knowledge that individuals must operate with integrity, a culture of compliance, or face increasing government oversight, including disciplines and fines handed out by law enforcement professionals.

In the meantime, pass along words of praise to law enforcement professionals and to those in the media. Write letters. Make calls. Send emails. Encourage integrity-centered law enforcement by praising admirable behaviors.

Question: (E-195)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on November 9, 2005

"Maintain respect for religious differences"

As an ordained Christian minister, is it time to replace public prayers that are so specific that they come across as disrespectful, even judgmental?

Yes. However, before expanding on my answer, allow me to build a context for my recommendation. As a management consultant, my professional responsibility is to provide valuable counsel to individuals and organizations; helping clients to function more effectively and profitably. Teaching powerful people to listen attentively to all of their stakeholders, each of whom has a legitimate position, and then behave graciously is a complex and demanding task. Always, my goal is to exceed expectations and, then, as an entrepreneur and businessperson, to be compensated appropriately.

Clients might be liberal or conservative and may have come from diverse cultural, racial and religious groups. However, what they all have hired us to provide is our knowledge and experience. They pay us for our skills in effectively identifying and developing leaders and teams. Clients reward us and our consulting team for what we know, not for what we think that we know. We believe that progressive leaders appreciate how, and how quickly, our minds work. Even so, there is a clear separation between our personal preferences and our professional competencies. We are not asked by our Hindu clients to leave our faith to join theirs, nor do we seek to convert those who hire us to accept our religious practices. As a mentor taught me, years ago, individuals who succeed go to work, at least in the business world, to make money. How individuals choose to use their wealth and live their cultural and religious beliefs are separate issues. However, condemning differences in style and belief are bordering on the irresponsible in an era in which billions of individuals from around the world are linked by an internet and united by the desire to create a better and more peaceful world for the next generation.

There is a need to share from the abundance that has been created through successful and profitable business transactions. So, to maintain our own balance between self-interest (making money), and social responsibility (protecting those who cannot protect themselves), we have supported organizations that provide safety nets for those at risk. When individuals seek assistance from "service agencies" - whether for food, housing or counsel to rid themselves of harmful drugs and destructive behaviors -- it would be totally inappropriate for them to be refused assistance for racial, cultural or religious reasons. Graciousness and compassion dictate serving all who have needs.

Serving on the board of a global religions organization, tolerance and spiritual sensitivity are a must. Episcopal Bishop William Swing, of San Francisco, who founded the United Religions Initiative, convenes meetings with individuals whose religious and cultural traditions span the globe. He reminds participants that silence is one activity, when built upon respect and receptivity; that does not divide people. With the sound of a bell, Bishop Swing invites those with whom he is meeting to reflect, in silence, on mutual needs and issues, as fits with their respective traditions. He concludes the respectful silence with the second ringing of the bell. This approach can become a way to celebrate similarities and integrate differences; avoiding judgmental behaviors. So, before a meal with individuals whose histories and traditions might not be known or in a public gathering - the process can be powerful. By suggesting, during the silence, that individuals offer their personal thoughts and prayers, no one is diminished and everyone is shown respect. Can integrity reach a higher level? Probably not!

Question: (E-196)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on November 16, 2005

"World's complexities require careful thought"

Television "news" has become a "show." Biased reporting attracts those who demand support and justification for what they already believe. Can this be a good thing?

No. When respectful give and take is replaced with caustic harangues, built upon rigid principles, then constructive communication is lost. Today, litmus-tested performers, wearing camera-friendly make-up, preach doctrinaire positions in the name of news reporting. With biting sarcasm, they feverishly attack those who challenge them. This is not news reporting, it is destructive entertainment. Mindless party-line "sound-bites" weaken a society (now a world) dependent upon mutual understanding, international business transactions and civility in conflict resolution.

So, how did we get so far down this road of distrust and intolerance? Individuals over 50 grew up, throughout most of the United States, when many decisions had already been made. Generally speaking, parents were either Democrats or Republicans. Most adults purchased one of three automobiles: Chevrolet, Ford or Dodge. News came from three sources: morning or afternoon newspapers (one, Republican, the other, Democrat); radio commentators who were ex-newspaper veterans; and, television broadcasters from NBC, CBS, or ABC. People were Protestant, Catholic or Jewish. Families and neighborhoods, even sections of the nation, had their traditions, often perceived as somewhat mysterious to outsiders. This was life, with little challenge or change.

By contrast, today's world feels topsy-turvy. Issues demanding understanding are far closer to home than international terrorism, the collapse of Russian communism, disease and starvation in Africa, the politics of energy and fresh water or even complex international monetary policies. The soul of society has been infected with plummeting confidence in leaders, soaring rates of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, divorce and criminal activities among the powerful. Said the poet: "Oh, the times, they are a' changin'." Political perspectives are no longer dogmatically carried forward by children. Choosing an automobile is complicated by hundreds options. Try ordering a hot drink at an upscale coffee shop!

Wise-appearing television newscasters from yester-year were welcome guests in millions of homes because it was assumed they would never say or do anything to harm society. Today's airwaves are filled with "talking heads" eagerly mouthing any perspective, loudly and energetically, satisfying clamoring fans. Noisy personal attacks have displaced the reasoned argument. Insecure about what is true and thrashing about for any sign of reassurance, these consistency-seekers yearn for the same confidence from an earlier era. Unsure of what is true or important; these adults lash out with anger, impatience, rudeness and rigidity, encouraging those in the media to reflect their unsettled state.

The time is now to listen thoughtfully, especially to conflicting opinions. Shouting down, or simply ignoring, those who think and behave differently discourages openness and trust. Civil discourse is the most intelligent pathway to discourage demagoguery and build confidence. Integrity demands graciousness, respect and discipline. Listening is the key.

Question: (E-197)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on August 24, 2005

"Integrity a must when coaching youth sports"

A Pennsylvania Little League coach of 8-year olds, allegedly paid one of his players $25 to use a bat to injure another member of their T-Ball team. The 27-year old coach didn't want the mentally-disabled youngster to play and risk a loss. Is this an issue of integrity or insanity?

Adults who behave this way have serious issues involving integrity, possibly criminality and certainly maturity. Having recently attended a little league game, we observed a coach who encouraged players. At the end of the game, when his team lost, he mentioned that the other team simply played a little better today. He then reminded everyone that there will be another game and that he too will work harder to be better prepared.

His supportive approach reminded me of my favorite Little League coach, Mr. Yonkers, who patiently taught me and my buddies. After three losing seasons, under Coach Yonkers, finally our team enjoyed a winning season. Even way back then, a few coaches were jerks. But our coach knew he was there to help us become better people, as we were learning to pitch, catch and hit.

Every adult, coach, parent and fan is responsible for exhibiting appropriate behaviors and leadership with and for youth; all the time. As the "playoffs" begin, please review a summary of The National Youth Sports Coaches Associationand its Coaches' Code of Ethics:

As a coach --- I will:

  • Place the emotional and physical well-being of my players ahead of a personal desire to win.
  • Treat each player as an individual, remembering the large range of emotional and physical development for the same age group.
  • Do my best to provide a safe playing situation for my players.
  • Promise to review and practice the basic first aid principles needed to treat injuries of my players.
  • Do my best to organize practices that are fun and challenging for all my players.
  • Lead by example in demonstrating fair play and sportsmanship to all my players
  • Provide a sports environment for my team that is free of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, and I will refrain from their use at all youth sports events.
  • Be knowledgeable in the rules of each sport that I coach, and I will teach these rules to my players.
  • Use those coaching techniques appropriate for each of the skills that I teach.
  • Remember that I am a youth sports coach, and that the game is for children and not adults.

Measuring one's actions against a thoughtful code of ethics; and making appropriate adjustments; will build a stronger community. All age groups will benefit. Behaving appropriately confirms that integrity matters.

Question: (E-198)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on July 27, 2005

"An act of kindness will make your day"

I am tired of reading about lying, murder and stealing. Does anyone still do good deeds?

Illustrations abound confirming the goodness of people. First, graciousness still pays dividends. On April 27, 2005, during heavy rain showers, a business associate joined me for breakfast at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Carmel Valley. Following a 90-minute business meeting, over breakfast, we exited the restaurant. Not yet ready to dodge the raindrops, I waited while my friend rushed to his car only to watch him return to the front door, speechless. Well, not exactly in silence. He had left the lights on and his battery was dead. Having no jumper cables in my car, learning he had none with him; the obvious answer was roadside assistance. Assured he had the situation well in hand, I headed toward the offices of the Bracher Center to deal with the day's challenges. Thirty minutes later, the phone rang and it was the "dead battery" man, sounding upbeat.

His "Good Samaritan" involved the owner-manager of the restaurant. She suggested he not phone for assistance, but, threw on her jacket, went out in the increasingly heavy rainstorm, moved her vehicle which did have jumper cables and made sure my friend's automobile started. He thanked her, headed to his next appointment and phoned me with the good news. Acts of kindness are good to share. When he told me of his experience, he made my day better and maybe my retelling it here will make yours better. Graciousness improves lives. How many more times will this gentleman and others (including me) choose the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Carmel Valley? Yes, integrity pays, over and over.

The second example confirms that real wisdom is the constructive use of energy. One evening a wise grandmother told her grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. She said, "Dear child, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all. One is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandmother: "Which wolf wins?" The grandmother replied, "The one you feed."

President Abraham Lincoln is given credit for this observation: "After the age of 40, individuals are responsible for their own faces." Mr. Lincoln knew that who we are and how we feel, on the inside, is what will show on our faces. Over the years it adds up. Are you, in your heart and soul, a giver or a taker? In my experience, givers are more attractive as they get older. Since we cannot control the years, we can manage our attitudes.

Question: (E-199)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on August 3, 2005

"Wells Fargo Bank's integrity in question"

Federal regulators say Wells Fargo Bank jeopardized the personal information of hundreds of thousands of customers through a string of security breaches over the past two years. Wells Fargo intends to profit from the problem by offering the same customers whose confidential information they allowed to be compromised, a chance to pay $140 per year for information they can receive free. Is this integrity at Wells Fargo?

With your question, you forwarded a column by David Lazarus of the San Francisco Chronicle. On July 22, 2005, he questions the ethics of those who lose credit information, whether from negligence or incompetence; and then offer to these same 700,000 violated customers and others, for $12.99 per month, a credit monitoring service. This is gutsy, perhaps callous. Ironically, these same customers can access identical information free, three times per year, requesting a complimentary annual credit report, from these organizations: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Consumer advocates, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a San Diego non-profit offers valuable counsel. Their July tip of the month: When Ordering Your Free Credit Report, It's Still Better to Call Rather Than Order Online. Disturbing is learning that 100 imposter domains and 233 imposter sites are interfering with the federally-mandated free credit report site. Some of these sites are showing up in search engine results, sometimes as paid listings that appear ahead of the official site.

To facilitate obtaining your current credit report, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse suggests:

  • When phoning the toll free number: 877-322-8228 for your credit report, ask that only the last four digits of your Social Security Number be displayed when it is sent to you.
  • If you use the toll free number above to access your free credit report, be aware that if you have a strong accent or a complex last name, the automated phone system may not work.
  • If you call for your report or have it mailed to you, ensure that your credit report is mailed to a secure mailbox.
  • Know that you are not required to give out your email address in order to obtain a federally mandated free credit report.
  • If you order a free annual credit report online, take basic computer safety precautions. For example, ensure that your computer is virus-free and don't order your reports from a public computer or from work.

Current credit information is important because of the growing cottage industry called identify theft. Preying upon individual's fears, to obtain a current credit report, is not integrity, especially when the information can be obtained for free. Short term greed will not build viable business relationships. Buyers, beware! Knowing what is available, for free, expands the integrity conversation.

Question: (E-200)
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on August 10, 2005

"Integrity No. 1 rung on ladder to success"

Other than lacking integrity, what other flaws do you observe, over and over, in failed leaders?

Quoting successful business leader, Warren Buffett: "In evaluating people, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And, if you don't have the first, the other two will kill you." The foundation for building success and impact, over the long haul, is integrity. Those who lack it, often fail, regardless of title or task. Justifiable mistrust, a by-product of broken promises, erodes motivation among mission-driven partners.

Three additional career killers are arrogance, ignorance and incompetence. The constructive side of these negative attributes can be described as graciousness, attentiveness and diligence. Recently, when meeting with a newly-appointed first-time chief executive officer, she exhibited all three.

Her arrogance was exhibited by total disrespect for the valuable time of those with whom she worked. Schedules were ignored; causing those about her to scurry to keep the people "down- line" informed about her time-sensitive crises. Not one time did I hear her say: "Thank you for your patience" or "I am sorry to have made you wait." She demonstrates that her position affords her entitlements, including flagrant abuses related to time. She did not exhibit graciousness.

CEO's are not expected to know all of the rules of the road, immediately. However, not asking for help is certain to sustain ignorance. Watching this individual make a series of operational blunders with current direct reports, not asking for their input, in areas where she had little or no knowledge, made clear that people were not important to her. Leaders exude confidence that they are eager to share the spotlight and learn from others; crediting them for their contributions. Not being attentive, she lost valuable opportunities to learn, encourage and motivate.

Topping off her mediocre leadership was incompetence. Leaders always assume responsibility. To emphasize this point, consider the comments made by Mr. Kenneth Lay, CEO of Enron. He describes Enron's collapse as something that surprised him, because he was a "hands-off" executive. If he did not know what was happening, then Mr. Lay should give back his salary and bonus. If he did know, then he is accountable for indictments regarding malfeasance. In the case of my recent encounter with a "wanna' be" leader, blame was her game in an effort to make fame in her own name. She will fail, long term. My father said that those who do not learn will likely suffer. Diligence means that CEO's own mistakes because that is what leadership requires. Courage improves morale and increases productivity. Employees recognize legitimate leadership.

Integrity requires intelligence, along with intensity, sensitivity and follow-through. Those who do not possess integrity-centered attributes should keep their resumes current.

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