No integrity-centered organization would allow its supervisors,
at any level, to place an employee in a compromising position
such as the one you are describing. You are in a no-win
situation. If you shred documents that you know could
be important in a lawsuit, you could risk personal legal
action. At that moment, at risk is not only your integrity,
but also your vulnerability with our justice system.
On the other hand, if you do not follow the directives
of your boss, you face charges of insubordination and
could lose your job.
1. Are you sure you clearly understood the shredding
2. If you did understand the shredding order, are you
willing to face possible criminal charges for destroying
3. If you are not prepared to compromise your ethics
or your reputation, then are you prepared to live without
a paycheck, should you be terminated for not carrying
out an assignment?
4. Are there individuals in your current company to whom
you can turn and blow the whistle on the person who has
placed you in this quandary?
5. Would you feel comfortable going to your boss who
suggested the shredding activity and asking whether the
instructions to shred documents might be reconsidered?
There are few people today who are not aware the risks
and consequences of improper business behavior.
Begin planning immediately on ways that ensure that you
will be spending the rest of your career in organizations
whose ethics and integrity warrant your loyalty.
Are they exhibiting integrity? As a former enthusiastic
Dixie Chicks fan, I am upset and wonder if it is their
lack of ethics regarding patriotism or simply greed that
drives them. They are different now and I am not happy.
What have I missed?
About thirty-five years ago one member of a famous music
group at that time, The Beatles, announced while traveling
outside Europe and America that he felt that his
singing group was having a greater impact on the world
than had Jesus, the source of faith and inspiration for
those who follow the Christian faith. These four young
men from Liverpool, England, created a firestorm that
lasted a while. They gained and lost fans, in large numbers.
Some Beatle fans expressed outrage and felt they had been
Today, the Dixie Chicks, three talented singers-songwriters-performers,
have built a fabulously successful reputation that has
suddenly changed, at least in your eyes. They had become
famous providing a certain kind of entertainment which
included not only their brand of music, but also a predictable
public image. For whatever reasons, much about them seems
to have flip-flopped in how you see the Dixie Chicks and
how they are presenting themselves to the public.
In clear business terms, they have a right to offer any
product and image they choose. You can elect to accept
or reject their new package. In your eyes they have violated
a trust and their decisions to pose nude are a radical
departure of the brand-image you had expected from them.
The actions being taken by the Dixie Chicks may not violate
our definition of integrity. They seem to be choosing
activities (controversial political
positions and crass nudity for the marketing of some changing
professional image) that seem to be far different from
what you and others had come to expect from them. These
are their choices.
However, when public figures attract a great deal of
attention, often associated with money, influence and
celebrity, there may be unspoken requirements that activities
which detract from the accepted-image are not acceptable.
Like it or not, we look to these leaders (entertainment,
sports, government, religion, education, military, media,
medicine and a whole host of admirable roles within society)
and we need for them to provide steadiness in an uncertain
The Dixie Chicks' current crisis is a good reminder for
everyone. In one way or another, who among us is not responsible
as a role model for someone? What the Dixie Chicks can
teach us is that there are consequences when we choose
not to control our behaviors, public or private. Those
who look to leaders know that integrity matters and a
predictable model of behavior can be source of strength
for those about us.
Each of us has developed an image or a brand that those
about us have come to appreciate, expect, and, upon which
they are comfortable turning to when they make decisions.
Parents and teachers, physicians and attorneys, elected
officials and business executives, brothers and sisters,
religious leaders and media moguls – each can improve
society and enhance individual and organizational effectiveness
when the brand or image represented to those who need
them most is taken seriously.
Take your own inventory of who you are and what others
need from you and be honest:
People have not changed a great deal since the very
beginning of time, all the way back to Adam and Eve
and Cain and Abel. Human beings still make mistakes.
A significant number of people are pretty good and others
are rotten (at least from our perspective). Find the
good ones and accept responsibility for change. In the
last analysis, these ten two-letter words summarize
what reality is; namely, to accept the responsibility
that: "If it is to be, it is up to me." Because it is
true that integrity matters, then we must start with
ourselves and those with whom we already have relationships.
Beyond that, we are pretty much "at risk" unless we
are willing to stand up, with those of like minds, to
be counted.Complain and do nothing and you can expect
to be ignored, with continued misery.
Perceive wrong-headedness and act appropriately, and
you will create a legacy of integrity.
GAMBLING, INTEGRITY AND WILLIAM BENNETT
The following stories about the extravagant gambling
activities ($8,000,000 in losses) of Dr. William Bennett
appeared in our local paper about someone admired by
millions, including me. With very little effort, I have
now learned that lots of people reported about Dr. Bennett’s
gambling. Now, it turns out that he is tainted like
so many others. Is this an integrity issue for Mr. Bennett?
Where can I turn for plain honesty and moral uprightness?
Just look at these examples:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Former education secretary and family
values advocate William Bennett says he is giving up
the high-stakes casino gambling that has cost him millions
over the past decade.
"My gambling days are over," Bennett said
in a written statement responding to news reports. Bennett,
author of the Book of Virtues, issued the brief statement
through Empower America, the conservative think tank
he runs with former representative Jack Kemp, a New
Newsweek, The Washington Monthly and The New York Times
have reported in recent days that Bennett -- the author
of "The Book of Virtues" and other books touting
the moral high-ground -- lost millions in Las Vegas
and Atlantic City over the last decade.
Even in Troy, New York in its paper, The Record. "It
is true, Bennett has gambled within legal channels.
Perhaps he can afford to indulge his passion without
causing harm to his family or his associates. William
Bennett, however, is not only a public figure who tries
to frame public policy with the conservative think tank
he runs, but he tries through his writings to teach
us right from wrong. He has been a vocal opponent of
abortion, drug addiction and homosexuality, as well
as an ardent proponent of the death penalty. While he
has not come out before against gambling, he knows it
is listed under the category of vices. Shouldn't a man
who proposes a life of virtue lead by example? Shouldn't
his examples be beyond reproach?
For those reasons - reasons Bennett understands full
well -- his gambling addiction is certainly cause for
concern among any population that believes in what he
Dear Integrity Seeker,
William Bennett has reaped a whirlwind of reaction,
mostly negative, for his recent acknowledgement of high
stakes gambling. For many individuals he lost his "lofty
place" in their eyes and in their hearts. He has exhibited
behaviors that are often associated with the disease
of gambling. There are certain individuals now who would
recommend that he participate in corrective therapy,
very soon. Bill Bennett needs to determine the best
actions to address his weakness in this area.
Your question asks for a different response, one directly
related to your personal loss of a role model, a values
clarifier and a cultural renewal agent. These recently
disclosed gambling failings of the Bill Bennett who
"preached" moral excellence and cultural appreciation
do not diminish the wisdom he has already provided in
speeches and writings. Many important personalities
of history have had tragic flaws. According to tradition,
the very individual who delivered the Ten Commandments
to ancient Israel, Moses, had earlier in his life been
a murderer. Our own nation’s revered third President,
Thomas Jefferson, is believed to have lived a lifestyle
both in Paris (while serving as Ambassador to France)
and at his home in Monticello, Virginia, in violation
of his marriage contract. Despite any frailties, significant
numbers of believers still turn to the gifts of Moses,
called the Ten Commandments, and his marvelous leadership
and courage in delivering a people to a Promised Land.
Likewise, we revere the Declaration of Independence
and appreciate the University of Virginia, two legacies
left to us by President Jefferson.
Many years ago, a Country and Western singer, Glen
Campbell sang a song entitled "Rhinestone Cowboy" in
which he used these words: "There’s been a load
of compromisin’ on the road to my horizon." For
whom is this not true?
Your disappointment with Dr. Bennett is real. However,
his gifts of insight are real as well. About a dozen
years ago, while traveling in Italy, during the Jim
and Tammy Fay Bakker PTL television ministry meltdown
debacle and the Jimmy Swaggart marital infidelity merry-go-round,
a powerful and compassionate perspective was passed
along to me. A Roman Catholic Bishop, from Europe, had
invited me to join him for lunch with a few mutual friends.
For several weeks I had read and watched the "media
circus of fallen televangelists" unfold and felt uncomfortable
about the behaviors of two highly visible leaders of
Christianity (specifically from the Protestant religion
in the United States). Here was an opportunity to seek
counsel from an expert. It seemed like a good idea at
the time to ask for an objective (in this case, long
distance) perspective on the obvious hypocrisies of
the Bakkers and Swaggart. What he said has stayed with
He was able to communicate a sense of proportion for
the matter. The Bishop reminded me that each of these
televangelists was effective in communications, especially
the preaching of Jimmy Swaggart. Further, he reminded
me that there had been times in his own Roman Catholic
Church that totally inappropriate behaviors of certain
highly placed leaders would put to shame the accusations
currently in the news. And, here was the clincher: the
Bishop said to focus on what they do well and let God
take care of the rest. He did not mention forgiveness,
nor did he suggest ignoring their misdeeds. He did recognize
that individuals can have incredible flaws and still
retain knowledge, skills and abilities that could serve
Bennett is human. Some of his ideas are divine. Chances
are that he was never as good as he wanted to appear
nor is he today as bad as some would have us believe.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on May 14, 2003
"Some in boardroom have say on
It is being discussed and written about seemingly everywhere:
American CEO's, on average, this past year were paid
241 times as much as the average worker. This seems
unfair and a violation of integrity. Am I right?
Grossly overpaid executives are enabled to "take"
all they can get by their very own boards of directors.
Where they are being over-compensated, not only are
they are taking money from their own employees, but
also from the risk-taking investors who entrust them
to create an appropriate return. However, like spoiled
children who have just finished a well-balanced meal,
in these cases a meal that had already included a wonderful
dessert called large salary and bonus, plus stock options
and retirement packages, these self-absorbed bosses
are begging for even more. Just like ravenously undisciplined
and spoiled children screaming for another piece of
cake and another scoop of ice cream, these unhealthy
appetites cannot seem to be satisfied.
Are these compensation packages unfair? No, not if
the results match the rewards. If the leadership of
an organization enhances the productivity and profitability,
then what is wrong with rewarding those who generated
it? There is no integrity violation when individuals
do what they are supposed to do and then are rewarded
for it. The issue raised is that these lucrative "goodies"
are not being distributed appropriately to sustain the
motivation of all who helped create the successes. There
needs to be a geometrically proportional link between
what the boss receives and what others receive. That
lack of an appropriate distribution is absolutely unfair.
This is not about socialism's equal distribution; rather,
it is about what causes workers and bosses to respect
and appreciate one another, year after year, and still
want to work together, productively in the future.
Is the crazy high pay for mediocre or poor performance
an integrity issue? Certainly, it is. According to Holly
Sklar’s book, Raise the Floor: Wages and Policies
that Work for All of Us, when CEO's are paid, on average,
241 times that of the average worker, then the boards
of directors’ levels of accountability should
be evaluated. Obviously, sanctioning compensation inequities
means that board members are not thinking and acting
responsibly on behalf of either their own investors
or on behalf of the work force upon which their enterprise
Compensation committees can recommend any salary and
benefits package they can dream up. However when it
is the board of directors that must approve these gigantic
rewards, then they must do the work for which they are
paid: ensure the viability of the enterprise (people,
products, markets, services) and reward investors appropriately.
Any other leadership approach by a board of directors
would seem to border on the illegal and the irresponsible.
Certainly, such careless decision-making regarding outrageous
CEO pay by boards might cause investors to question
their judgments in other areas. There is little doubt
that rank and file employees have already concluded
that such decisions are violating the integrity and
trust that needs to exist between themselves and their
Because there is a need for guidance in areas of judgment
and responsibility, it became apparent that someone
ought to provide integrity-centered leadership counsel.
Now that the Bracher Center has defined this area of
service, we know that through our integrity-based services,
we can improve productivity for the investor, executive,
team, culture, organization and the individual. However,
such productivity will be enhanced most effectively
when all constituents and all stakeholders choose to
regulate themselves. We are confident that free markets,
often directed by boards of directors, must regulate
themselves or governments will. Outrageous compensation
is an integrity issue and must be addressed or we risk
the viability of free enterprise itself.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on May 21, 2003
"New York Times lives up to ethical
The New York Times has just apologized for the fraudulent
work of one of its reporters. That is all well and good.
But the Times enjoys a public trust, and surely they
have a responsibility to spot check or verify the work
of their featured writers to ensure that such a fiasco
is never allowed to happen. At the end of the day, it
seems that you cannot trust what you see on television,
or what you read in newspapers. What do you think?
Dear Concerned Citizen,
Please do not over-react to the dishonesty of a writer
for the New York Times. There are rotten apples everywhere,
and this fraud was caught. Further, in what turns out
to be thorough follow-up, the very same newspaper confronted
its errors and exposed its own vulnerabilities for what
they were and are, human. Con artists come in lots of
forms, including writers.
Several years ago, Johnson and Johnson, the makers
of Tylenol acknowledged that a few of their packages
had been compromised and that rather than risk any further
harm to the public, that every Tylenol product would
be removed from the shelves, everywhere and immediately.
They had taken responsibility for the crisis and avoided
permanent disaster. Today, in part because of the Tylenol
crisis, Johnson and Johnson has enhanced it stellar
position in the world of business and integrity.
The Times may have set a similar standard of honesty
and integrity with its ownership and accountability
of its own blunders: publishing materials that had not
been verified and hiring and retaining a dishonest and
unprofessional news writer. To be sure, their own follow-up
investigation and subsequent reporting of the story
was hard hitting and offered no excuses. The Times has
committed to addressing its own vulnerabilities.
Based upon the definition of integrity provided by
the Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership, the
New York Times has thus far lived up to every promise
in this crisis that we counsel leaders to fulfill. Upon
careful reading of our definition, and assuming the
Times management team continues to follow through, they
will be able to stand tall in the arena of responsible
and responsive leadership: "Integrity is congruence
between what you say and what you do, as well as what
you say about what you did. Integrity is the keystone
of leadership. The keystone holds the enterprise together
at its most critical junction, where ideas, products
and services meet the customer. The keystone enables
the arch to fulfill its supportive mission. Integrity
enables an organization to achieve its mission. Integrity
is the strength, unity, clarity and purpose that upholds
and sustains all of the activities of the enterprise.
Integrity provides this stabilizing dimension by never,
ever, compromising. Integrity recognizes risks and assumes
responsibility. It drives the realization of vision
toward the enterprise's destination. Leaders exude integrity."
Based upon what the Times has done to rectify its mistakes,
which is to maintain your confidence (and our confidence)
in our freedom of the press, then we should applaud
their efforts to regulate themselves. No, our system
is not perfect, nor is our press, however, we can be
reassured that integrity does matter, and especially
with our media, as was demonstrated by their good faith
efforts to be upfront with their problems and their
immediate steps to address issues.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on July 16, 2003
"Hucksters come in many forms"
A businessman that I know charges his retail customers
for priority mail postage -- as though it were a reimbursement
for his costs--but then collects a refund from the Post
Office whenever they fail to meet the delivery schedule
-- which happens a lot. In effect, this businessman
has another source of revenue -- reimbursed fees that
were subsequently refunded by the Post Office, because
he never passes the refund on to the customer. Is this
right? Does this action have integrity?
As a youngster, growing up in the Midwest, small-town
Indiana, there was an expression, actually a word, used
to describe such behavior. The word described individuals
who were on the borderline of what was legal and moral.
They may have been unscrupulous or maybe just greedy.
They knew every way imaginable to cut a corner, save
a buck, take advantage of any opportunity and they were
not above pushing their way to the front of the line
at the county fair just to get a corndog and a root-beer.
They were so low that other people knew about the time
they returned a half-eaten box of cookies to the grocer
claiming they found something wrong with the carton
and the taste of the cookies.
These were the folks who complained loudly in restaurants
and often ate for free or for a reduced price. Their
focus on every nickel and dime was so extreme that some
called them tight and others described them as cheap.
But the one term that always stuck in my memory was
much more descriptive. It gathered the force of resentment
that can only described as suitable for selfish and
nasty personalities. It was a word that no one my friends
and I "chose to hang around with" ever wanted used to
portray who we were or how we operated. This hideous
term smelled of smoked-filled rooms where questionable
deals might be completed. It smacked of corruption.
And, always the word carried with it a tone of rudeness
Later in my life, after living in Missouri, Illinois,
Connecticut and then California, I would be reassured
that there was no doubt the term had been accurate.
Even in friendly games of cards, horseshoes, checkers
or golf, this type of a person exists to do one thing,
over and over, take advantage of every occasion and
where possible, to cheat. These kinds of people have
only one objective, whether for a few pennies or dollars,
and that is to take advantage of others and win at all
costs. These people even play dirty at the famous board
game of Monopoly. Sometimes people of this kind will
hide the "get out of jail free card" (sometimes underneath
their pile of play money) and spring it on you when
they roll the dice that is supposed to land them in
jail, where the rules say that they must lose a turn.
And that is when they remember they have the "jail pass"
just so they won’t miss even one more opportunity
to win the game. They are beneath any level of basic
niceness. These individuals are hucksters, that’s
right, HUCKSTERS. In more polite circles, one might
call them by different terms like foxy, clever, prudent,
calculating, competitive, or shrewd. The truth is they
Hopefully, their ill-gotten dollars, which sometimes
have lead them to fame and recognition, will enable
them to "buy" enough friends to hang around so they
will have a social life when they are old, rich and
often peering through their squinty-eyed bitterness.
People who gouge others in the way you described this
"postage fraud" of an acquaintance only confirm that
he is truly a huckster. We were advised as children
to watch out for hucksters because they target just
about everyone with whom they come in contact. Be careful.
Folks like this can all too easily ignore integrity
because they have forgotten that integrity matters.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on May 28, 2003
"Business Schools earn failing
grade on ethics"
On May 20, 2003, The New York Times writes that according
to a survey of students, ethics is lacking in the business
school curriculum. If the business schools of our country
are not bringing this subject to the attention of future
leaders in effective ways, how much at risk is the free-market
system and its leadership?
Regarding business schools and ethics
Free markets are at no greater risk simply because
business schools are not adequately teaching ethics
in their classrooms. Free markets are not now fundamentally
stronger because a higher percentage of students attending
business schools are now more eager to learn ways they
can now articulate integrity-centered insights that
might blunt unethical behavior. Free markets are designed
to "self-correct" around customer needs, technological
breakthroughs, social changes and investor confidence
levels. With or without the support of business schools,
intelligent and motivated participants in free markets
will respond to the expectations and demands of customers.
The buying public is fed up with manipulations and lies.
Perceptive business leaders will not ignore these important
economic signals and expect to retain viability and
neither will forward-looking business professors who
need to attract talented and thoughtful students.
One of my mentors reminded me that we learn about things
from books and about people from other people. We can
be taught from a textbook about science, engineering,
transportation and a host of other enterprises and activities.
However; leadership, values, integrity-centered behavior,
relationships and service – these are communicated
and taught by those who exhibit them – person
With reference to exhibiting integrity in leadership,
and the origins of these values, there are scholars
in the study of human behavior who suggest that fundamentals
of character habits are well established before an individual
is five years old. Even if these sociologists and psychologists
are off by a few years, the implications are profound.
What this means about shaping the moral values and standards
of tomorrow’s leaders is that our graduate business
schools are quite late in the lives of their students
in being able to provide much dramatic change, for the
better or worse. Professors of business can guide and
inspire, inform and direct, and leave students with
legitimate models for effective and ethical economic
structures. There is no doubt that free markets need
wise and moral business instructors.
However, if the premise is accurate that one learns
values from others and not textbooks (namely, from those
engaged in the management of institutions), then professors
of business and management can do little more than cite
important and provocative examples, unless they happen
to be actively engaged in leading an enterprise themselves.
There comes a time in education when case studies need
to be fortified (if not replaced) by face-to-face interaction
with active integrity-centered leaders who can demonstrate
appropriate behavior and the ramifications for both
hitting and missing the mark. Creating a give-and-take
academic environment, with educators seeking input from
entrepreneurs, can enhance educational impact and restore
the ethical to the practical. Business leaders need
Successful learning generally happens best when need
meets preparedness in the context of relationship and
credibility. Few traditional classrooms can rally all
four dimensions at the same time. Yet, when a motivated
student asks important questions of a trusted and experienced
individual, life-changing events are likely to unfold.
When students, representing the future leadership of
our society, encounter those whose lives and livelihood
are successfully created by their own leadership of
free markets, then we have an opportunity to strengthen
values, in business and beyond.
Free markets are not doomed so long as those of the
current leadership generation (business and academic)
are preparing the next generation to listen to the buying
public and evaluate all decisions in order to maintain
a proper balance between self- interest and social responsibility.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on June 4, 2003
"Nothing like annual meetings
to restore trust"
Forget about the corporate leadership scandals. Ignore
the overly-compensated executives. What about the trust
that is required to get regular people to invest in
companies? What about the trust that has been damaged
by some of the same individuals exhibiting bad behavior?
It has not been uncommon this past year for certain
companies to hold their annual meetings in far away
places and allow "spokespersons" (such as hired outside
attorneys) to do the talking. These official representatives
are paid to handle all of the public communications,
with little or no representation from either the board
of directors or the executive team members themselves.
We know this style of leadership is simply unproductive
regarding the restoring of confidence and trust. These
are not the kinds of companies in which I want to invest.
Let them fall over the cliff if they don’t clean
up their acts.
But, what about the thousands of other solid corporate
leaders, who have not been embarrassed by scandals or
even been accused of being overly compensated; can their
annual meetings restore trust? Please say yes! We need
to find ways to strengthen the foundations of free markets.
Can annual meetings help?
Yes, Annual Meetings can restore trust. Annual Meetings
can be powerful in areas related to motivation and confidence
(trust) specifically when this type of tone is established:
1. stockholders have appropriate access to the leader
2. the agenda is not so orchestrated that important
content gets lost
3. leaders own the problems and communicate sensible
solutions to issues
4. those in charge are willing to listen
5. commitments are recorded and follow-up actions are
systematically reviewed and evaluated in subsequent
meetings and minutes
Unless or until such a tone is set, confidence in corporate
leadership will not grow. Those who attend Berkshire
Hathaway’s annual shareholder’s meeting,
informed and inspired by Chairman Warren E. Buffett,
generally walk away feeling that:
1. they have had genuine access to the leadership of
2. important issues are addressed in writing and discussed
3. problems are identified, owned and addressed by those
who are responsible, the boss or bosses, in this instance,
4. concerns of individuals are heard, clearly and non-defensively
5. responsive leadership fulfills promises; acknowledging
any shortcomings along the way
In a few words, ANNUAL MEETINGS CAN RESTORE TRUST when
the leaders who structure and conduct them work on a
model that operates along lines similar to those of
Berkshire Hathaway’s. As a mentor of mine was
quick to say: "there is no substitute for the truth."
Yes, integrity matters. Tell the truth and demand the
truth, all the time.
Each of us has a responsibility to leave the world
better than we found it. It is time that we make the
commitment, a plan for our lives, and hold it in highest
esteem, to restore integrity through insight. It is
easy and fashionable to point to the flaws of corporate
leadership. Millions of supporters of the "bash business
brigade" are ready and willing to join the chorus of
criticism. There are legitimate reasons to hold high-powered
leaders feet to the fire. However, if we stop there,
we may have missed an opportunity to make a really big
difference. By going just one step further we might
Most of us know right from wrong. We know what excesses
are; whether in executive pay, driving too fast, drinking
too much, abusing drugs, cheating on marriage, lying
on taxes, or ignoring children. Our behaviors sometimes
give us away. While we are quick to pull the trigger
on shooting down the big shots for their errors, there
is a really good chance millions of others would too
often trade the ease of our own "rule violations" for
the right to "look the other way" when those all around
want a little latitude in bending and breaking laws
and traditions. And we know this is wrong. We cannot
inspire the next generation positively and constructively
with this operating style. We must first face ourselves
and then decide that appropriate changes can begin when
individuals start looking in the mirror and facing an
honest reflection of behavior.
In our various activities, it is appropriate that
we demand, through our personal and professional priorities,
"a world in which people do what they say, are forthright
in their communications, and a handshake solidifies
any promise." Such a commitment would underscore that
integrity matters, first in day-to-day matters and ultimately
in all transactions. Since each of us is Chief Executive
Officer (CEO) of ourselves, then every encounter of
our life is a meeting. These daily transactions are
similar to a larger corporation’s annual meeting.
How we conduct our business and personal relationships
can build or tear down trust. So, on a personal level,
integrity will flourish and trust will grow when individuals
(small corporations of ourselves) conduct themselves
1. an availability and an ease with others
2. a tone that invites give-and-take and encourages
3. courage and accountability in facing problems; graciousness
in handling success
4. an atmosphere of openness and receptivity
5. tenacious and timely follow-through
The time to restore trust is now. Are you willing to
begin the process?
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on June 11, 2003
"Please say it ain’t Sosa"
Yesterday, June 3, 2003, in a major league baseball
game in Chicago, Illinois, with the Chicago Cubs playing
against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, superstar Sammy Sosa
of the Cubs used an illegal corked bat, and the media
is having a field day. Why are corked bats illegal?
And, if they are illegal in regular competition, why
do they exist at all? The alleged purpose is to use
them in exhibitions; but does that not render exhibitions
Finally, no matter what the explanation, since Sammy
is a professional ball player, wouldn’t he recognize
immediately that the heft and feel of the bat were different?
Therefore, I believe that he has broken a trust with
the fans. Do you agree?
Dear Cub Fan (or non-Cub fan),
This is an embarrassing moment in the life of this
columnist. For more years that I care to remember, the
Summer Slump of the Cubs has rendered me helpless, distraught,
sometimes speechless and often broken hearted. They
really know how to grind away at the self-confidence
of young and old fans alike; and maybe that is what
makes them the Cubs. Matters become even worse when
the Chicago Cubs blunder in September. So, with that
tidbit of bias on the table, let me respond.
First, it would be wonderful for baseball if Sammy
Sosa could come forward and say: "It just ain’t
so!" (He would need to communicate that the incident
was not of his making and the bat did not belong to
him.) Second, let us then hope that the "corked bat
incident" was truly a mistake and will never happen
In the meantime, let’s live in the real world.
This story is about market economics and individual
greed. Your questions about "corked bats" are unsettling
and your insights with reference to knowledge and accountability
The lawyers and the media are likely to have a field
day asking a few of their favorite questions:
1. What did he know?
2. When did he know it?
3. Can there be an explanation or a loophole that makes
the whole thing go away?
4. What is the definition of ‘cork’?
5. Who needs to take the blame for this so that nobody
loses any money?
The fans have another set of questions:
1. Why would a superstar need to cheat?
2. Why would a high-potential Hall-of-Famer ever risk
his reputation by even possessing an illegal piece of
equipment anywhere near the field of play?
3. Why would Sammy risk simply getting an illegal hit
over his team’s success?
4. Is major-league baseball so desperate for money
from fans that it looks the other way when illegal bats
are used during exhibitions (home run competitions)?
Back to your question about Sammy Sosa: has he broken
a trust? We do not know, yet. What we do know is that
major league baseball officials are examining bats that
they believe belonged to Sammy. Should there be any
compromised bats then the legal system that governs
major league baseball will determine guilt.
The bigger issue is recognizing that what is natural
(a baseball bat and a baseball, neither of which has
been juiced up) seems no longer adequate for the entertainment
expectations of certain fans, owners and players. Baseball
appears to have turned toward the "carnival atmosphere"
and risks making a farce of what once was referred to
as "our National Pastime".
Legitimate games, at whatever level, from amateurs
on the sandlot to the professionals in big league parks,
are designed to place every participant on the same
fair playing field. When greed displaces legitimate
competition, then cheating creeps in, and integrity
has become little more than a catch phrase punctuated
by the wink of the carnival barker.
If this recent Sammy Sosa "corking the bat" incident
is properly addressed, then baseball will be the stronger
and fans will not lose confidence in the sport, its
players, the owners or the agents. Do we really need
a corked-bat anywhere, anytime or for any reason? If
not, get rid of them, once and for all.
However, should all parties not be forthright in communicating
the circumstances that lead to the event; and should
appropriate evidence not be presented regarding the
real problems (creating false images of players hitting
baseballs incredible distances, with illegal bats) -
then the ticket-purchasing public, the fans, will have
reason to assume that fraud and deceit are alive and
well – even with major league baseball. Confidence
in the integrity of baseball will suffer yet another
blow. Any actions short of full disclosure will simply
create another corporate scandal covered over with "cork"
and empty promises about truth, honest competition and
integrity in leadership.
Oh, Sammy, say it isn’t so!
Martha Stewart and Smugness
The Martha Stewart case hooked me in an unexpected way.
Why is it that she is being charged (not that she shouldn't
be) when Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers and all of those who
brought our financial house down are playing golf or
basking on the beach with their fortunes intact? Something
in our system lacks integrity!
Martha Stewart’s legal circumstances will be determined
by those positioned to pronounce judgment. However,
the integrity issues related to her investments and
and the impact on her giant company may reach far beyond
the current issues being addressed by our judicial system.
Martha Stewart is guilty of personal and professional
pride. And, why shouldn’t she be proud? She accomplished
a great deal. However, Ms. Stewart’ self-directed
joy with her own accomplishments, taken to an extreme,
could be classified as hubris.
Hubris, pride taken to an extreme, becomes arrogance.
Few people like to see arrogance, even among those who
have become incredibly successful.Even so, Martha Stewart’s
road to the top represents for many the achievement
of the American Dream. She identified her skills, then
refined them and found ways to communicate, package
and sell those ideas to the public. Her story is the
entrepreneurial textbook for courage, commitment and
follow-through. Then, as if from the pages of a Greek
Tragedy, she fell victim to her own greed (if, in fact
she participated in improper stock transactions). Now,
the complicated process of prosecution and legal entanglements
begins.Is Martha Stewart as bad as the individuals who
committed really awful things while heading up Enron,
and the others? That is for our judicial system to judge,
but their impact on the economy and the lives of individuals
is certainly greater. Does she deserve the attention
she is getting? Only celebrities know for sure the risk-reward
ratio associated with high visibility and power and
the consequences when the tide turns. (As youngsters,
we played a game called "master of the hill" and took
turns wrestling our way to the top of the pile. One
on top, we were pushed off by the very same pals who
had, two minutes earlier, teamed up with us to help
push a buddy off the hill. After all the others were
only "pretenders" to power. Each of us was the "real
deal".) Are the behaviors of adults that much different?
No.The Stewart case is about arrogance . It is about
money and free markets . What can the rich and powerful
get away with while mere mortals suffer being tossed
from the top of the success pile with regularity? Lawyers
and the public relations "spin doctors" will have a
field day along with the press. And, free markets will
continue to suffer. Regulations will be created by bureaucrats
(some of whom are well meaning) and they will creep
into business processes that once upon a time were honest,
private and productive. In a knee-jerk reaction to popular
pressure to control both real and perceived market-manipulations;
free enterprise, along with the general population,
will be victimized.Society will again be required through
more taxes to pay for the design a stronger barn door
that harnesses only the horses that did not already
get away. Trust will be replaced with legal structure
and contracts while integrity will be monitored by restrictions.
Suspicion and innuendo will blunt the courage of success–seeking
entrepreneurs and free markets will discover that because
they did not regulate themselves, governments did.
Is the Martha Stewart situation about her behavior
(proper or improper) or our society’s ability
to address appropriately the foundations of free enterprise?
Integrity is at the heart of how our legal system addresses
Martha Stewart’s actions and those of others who
have violated public trust. The public has a need to
know that what once was great in our free market system
can be great again – but only if we remain vigilant.
What will be on trial with Martha Stewart is the responsible
and integrity-centered use of freedom. Follow the trial
and communicate your concerns to those elected to represent
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on June 18, 2003
"Brinkley set standard for news integrity"
David Brinkley was a pioneer of the news media. In his
own words, "I was at NBC when the first television camera
was rolled in. So I’ve been around a long time.
I am one of the pioneers. I guess I’ve become
part of the wallpaper in this country."
David Brinkley and his co-anchor at NBC News, Chet
Huntley, garnered fame far beyond the realm of journalism.
In 1965, a consumer-research company found that Huntley
and Brinkley were recognized by more adult Americans
than John Wayne or The Beatles.
Did David Brinkley represent integrity? Was his integrity
what caused him to be so admired?
America, with the death of David Brinkley on June 11,
2003, has lost a superstar. David Brinkley, pioneer
of the press, communicated a sense of proportion about
his work and himself. He seemed to be comfortable reporting
the news with no effort on his part to become the news.
Whether he was liberal or conservative, he delivered
his reporting in an even-handed manner. When he did
choose to make his opinions known, he offered them straight
out, direct, to the point and seemingly, without appearing
vindictive or needing to apologize.
David Brinkley would not be a "spin doctor" nor would
he have hired one. He called them as he saw them. For
that reason alone, one could describe him as an individual
with integrity; precisely because with Brinkley there
was congruence between what he said and what he did,
as well as what he said about what he did. His honesty
could be felt, from his words and his "on-camera" delivery.
At least, that was how he appeared for about sixty years.
Faking integrity for six decades is difficult, if not
impossible, especially when millions of people are watching
and listening, day in and day out.
It could be that his celebrity and fame were the results
of a less complicated time. The era in which he built
his career, from the 1940’s to 1990’s, was
moving toward (but had not yet achieved) current levels
of cynicism and mistrust of public figures. In the heyday
of his successes, reporters were the sources of important
information. News broadcasting had not yet sunk to more
recent greed-driven levels with the "take no prisoners"
pursuit of ratings and revenues. It appeared the pioneers
were not willing to trade substance for sound bites
In the early days of television journalism, news professionals
like Brinkley, Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite,
recognized the importance of honesty, courage and forthrightness.
The public placed its trust in them and they knew it.
Network anchors did not come on other broadcasts with
"teasers" about stories they would be discussing on
their own upcoming news shows. Such obvious advertising
and marketing by news reporting leaders would have been
seen as inappropriate, even cheap. David Brinkley stood
above such self-serving and mercenary behavior. His
work was to provide important information to his viewers
who had confidence that he would not let them down.
So, what is it about David Brinkley’s death that
causes us to pause and reflect?
First, we yearn for times when trust and integrity
were the currency of the day.
Second, we know that such courage and predictability
will be hard to replace.
Third, his death is a signal that we must not continue
the mindless feeding of an
insatiable appetite for the sensational at the expense
of the important, no matter the financial incentives.
Fourth, his life reminds us that we are stewards of
integrity and each time we compromise it for short-term
recognition and ego satisfaction, we put our values
Fifth, we have finally lost his steadiness as well
as his presence, at the wheel of the great ship called
"television news broadcasting" and we will never again
hear his thoughtful integrity-centered comments nor
feel his reassuring stature as he signs off at the end
of a thoughtful and substantive television broadcast.
Medicine and Integrity
On June 12, 2003, I learned from the media (newspapers
and television) that Ancure, the heart surgery maker,
owned by Endovascular Technologies of Menlo Park, California,
a subsidiary of Indianapolis-based Guidant Corporation,
was charged with ten felony counts, including false
statements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The company was also charged with "fraudulent"
sales of "misbranded" devices, again referring
to the aneurysm stent-graft, known as the Ancure®.
The company was charged with two counts of failing
to report as many as 2,600 malfunctions of the device,
thus preventing the public and physicians from learning
about "recurring malfunctions and other risks."
The company is also accused of failing to report that
other, more invasive operations were required after
the device failed.
The criminal complaint alleges that the company misled
the FDA and reported only 172 malfunctions since the
product was introduced in 1999. The complaint alleges
the company had records of 2,628 malfunctioning incidents,
including reports that the malfunctions led to 12 deaths
and 57 traditional open heart surgeries.
How can we have confidence in medicine when things
like this happen? Where is the level of integrity in
the medical equipment manufacturing business?
This appears to be a horrible example of executive misconduct.
To allow a flawed medical instrument to be placed in
the hands of physicians and surgeons, after it was known
to cause harm is simply unacceptable. However, we must
remain focused on the positive: our free market system,
supported by capitalism and guided by democracy, did
discover the problem and it is being addressed. Prosecution
in this situation will need to be thorough and swift.
Unfortunately, we know exactly why such events occur.
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.
However, the utilization of the Ancure "stent-graft"
device created troublesome and tragic results. We have
been told that insiders of the firm, seemingly from
the executive suites to the company's sales force who
were present during "botched" surgical procedures, were
participants in covering up the failures of the product.
If the reports are accurate, then individuals in this
firm were cheating with human lives. In contrast, cheating
in competitive sports, as with a "corked bat" in the
case of the famous Chicago Cubs baseball slugger, Sammy
Sosa, disappointing as it may be, is nowhere in the
league with risking human life just to sell a faulty
Some would argue that dishonesty is the same, whenever
it occurs. While saying that any dishonesty is the same
-- that any violation is terrible -- may offer a grain
of truth, this simplistic view obscures the multiple
damages that this product and procedure has created.
What we do know is that the Ancure "stent graft" has
caused continued and extraordinary pain for innocent
patients adding unnecessary suffering and cost as well
as loss of earnings. How would you react if these same
flawed surgical instruments, with instances of cover-up,
had been used on one of your loved ones and precipitated
a death? What if one of those affected was your mother
or father, or a friend or loved one? And all you would
have been able to do was watch helplessly, feeling frustration
and disappointment that all too soon would turn into
It is too soon to know what will happen to this firm,
its leadership and the reputation of medical manufacturing.
What we do know is our judicial system is our best hope
of creating justice for those who have been affected
by this tragic series of events. When individuals compromise
values for self-serving purposes, and lie about the
safety or quality of the product they provide, then
we are compelled to regulate their behavior, whether
through prosecution and prison sentencing or increased
governmental controls. Such violations of trust demand
The good news is that we have a self-regulating system.
The bad news remains that some folks are still driven
almost exclusively by greed and selfishness. And yet
the very best part of the story is that we are allowed
in our society to discuss such issues, publicly. Further,
we must not lose sight of the promise of the free market
system; namely, when free markets (including medical
products manufacturers) regulate themselves governments
will not be required to do so. However, it appears in
this instance, regulation to restore confidence and
trust is required.
How much longer must we watch important leaders run
amok before both we and they get the message? The masses
of people are very willing to "give leaders a lot of
freedom to solve problems" but there is a limit. When
individuals in responsible positions violate the trust
of those they have promised to serve (including medical
equipment manufacturers), then the buying public will
react. As is our warning and caution to all who would
violate basic integrity-centered commitments: "It should
be common knowledge that free markets must regulate
themselves or governments will." When the public trust
is violated, and in this situation, with the potential
for life and death consequences, then fear and anger
will all too often replace confidence. The public (including
those who have basic patients’ rights) will ask
for help that might easily support intrusive regulations,
created by regulatory agencies, to correct the infractions.
Whether or not this is the right solution, it is a
predictable response for individuals who have been wronged
or believe they have been wronged. And, given the nature
of our free market system this may be the only legitimate
long-term approach when individuals lose confidence
that those in authority no longer operate with integrity-centered
leadership and honesty. The time is now to restore honesty
by rooting out the fraudulent.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on June 26, 2003
"Take time to offer an act of
Week after week, your Wednesday Integrity Matters column
generally responds to questions addressing problems
created by individuals who violate standards of integrity
and ethics. You describe compromised situations and
offer suggestions on ways to address and correct the
problems. Yes, that is helpful. Please continue your
efforts. But, just for a change of pace, would you please
cite examples of people who exhibit integrity?
Let’s start with an optimistic assumption that
a significant number of human beings are pretty good.
We are confident that people will "come through in the
clutch" with honesty and caring. We have read about
and we know of travelers who have literally "gone the
extra mile" (returning fifty-five miles in their automobile
to a roadside restaurant) to correct a ten-dollar overpayment
error made by an employee who miscalculated what was
due a customer. Whether the items were expensive or
simply of sentimental value, we have heard stories of
"strangers" finding and returning lost pieces of jewelry.
The generosity and graciousness of the "Good Samaritan"
story is not simply a religious illustration that resides
in the pages of the Bible. Every day, decent people
are conducting themselves with sincerity and integrity
and they are not making their actions appear to be any
Certainly, integrity-centered behavior is not anything
earth-shattering or new. Perhaps that was the message
of the poet, William Wordsworth, who at the age of 28,
in 1798, provided these powerful and reassuring words:
"That best portion of a good [person’s] life,
[the] little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness
and of love." (From "Lines Composed a Few Miles above
Nameless acts of kindness might include:
1. motioning for an impatient driver to move ahead
or to turn in front, sooner
2. as contrasted to simply providing directions, literally
escorting visitors or strangers to their destinations,
whether on a campus, in a building or to an actual site
3. bending down or sitting down to appear face-to-face
with a child when communicating, so as to make the relationship
and connection less overwhelming
4. waiting graciously for the person who answers the
telephone to complete introductory comments before interrupting
with questions or requests
5. listening attentively to the same story, retold the
"umpteenth time" by a forgetful friend, appreciating
how important the telling of the story is to the speaker
6. commending the communication effectiveness, as well
as the efforts, of those about us whose second language
is English, but upon whose work we depend
7. exercising tolerance, spoken and unspoken, for other
points of view; recognizing that two people can see
the same situation and draw different conclusions
8. praising the hard work and sincere effort of those
whose services harvest our food, prepare our meals,
keep our automobiles running, deliver our mail, teach
us, guide us spiritually, operate transportation systems,
provide pure water and protect our society. As you think
of others, make the effort to show appreciation.
Let me now cite an example of someone who exhibits
integrity. A friend of mine, let’s call him Fred,
has integrity and he loves to play golf. He and I keep
score. We compete with one another, and each of us loves
to win. In fact we have a game in which we keep track
of the points over several weeks and months. The winner
(along with his wife) is the dinner guest of the loser
(and his wife) and the choice of the restaurant is solely
in the hands of winner and wife. This can be a little
costly. So, winning is important. My friend, Fred, and
I felt that if we were to take time away from our spouses
to play golf together, then a prudent decision about
winning should involve wives. Great game. Great fun.
Great way for all four of us to have a special meal
a few times per year (hopefully paid for by the other
fellow) to celebrate friendship and golf.
Here is the real story. Fred is so honest that we can
play against one another and not even be on the golf
course at the same time. I have no need to concern myself
with his score keeping. He would never cheat me. If
he tells me he deserves a few strokes from me, he gets
them. He does not break the rules. His integrity is
his greatest asset. We sometimes play together and other
times we simply compare scores. It is our understanding
that honesty and fair play are the foundation, not only
of golf, but of life.
Are there other "Fred" people out there? Yes. Find
them. Thank them. Treasure them. For it is the "Fred’s"
of our society who will restore trust and rebuild the
integrity of the marketplace.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on July 02, 2003
"Set a good integrity example
for your children"
How does one teach integrity to children? How does one
pass along values? Are there any examples you might
The best teaching is by example. Our words
are never as powerful as our actions. What we say is
important. What we do makes all the difference. Rather
than belabor the answer to your questions, please read
the following two stories that were recently passed
along to me from a reader of the Integrity Matters column
and you will have the answers you are seeking.
STORY NUMBER ONE
Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone
wasn't famous for anything heroic. His exploits were
anything but praiseworthy. He was, however, notorious
for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged
booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer
in Chicago nicknamed "Easy Eddie." He was
his lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In
fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al
out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation,
Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big,
but Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and
his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in
help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate
was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.
Yes, Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and
gave little consideration to the atrocity that went
on around him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however.
He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that
his young son had the best of everything: clothes, cars,
and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was
no object. And, despite his involvement with organized
crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong.
Yes, Eddie tried to teach his son to rise above his
own sordid life. Eddie wanted his son to be a better
man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence,
there were two things he couldn't give his son; two
things that Eddie sacrificed to the Capone mob that
he couldn't pass on to his beloved son: a good name
and a good example.
One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Offering
his son a good name was far more important than all
the riches he could lavish on him. Easy Eddie wanted
to rectify all the wrong he had done. He decided he
would go to the authorities and tell the truth about
Al "Scarface" Capone; he would try to clean
up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance
of integrity. But to do this, he would have to testify
against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be
great. But more than anything, he wanted to be an example
to his son. He wanted to do his best to make restoration
and, hopefully, have a good name to leave his son. So,
he testified. Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended
in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But
in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift
he had to offer, at the greatest price he would ever
STORY NUMBER TWO
World War II produced many heroes. One such man was
Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare. He was a fighter
pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in
the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent
on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his
fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to
top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel
to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His
flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly,
he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.
As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something
that turned his blood cold. A squadron of Japanese aircraft
were speeding their way toward the American fleet. The
American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet
was all but defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron
and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could
he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was
only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from
the fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety,
he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted
50 caliber's blazed as he charged in, attacking one
surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in
and out of the now broken formation and fired at as
many planes as possible until all his ammunition was
finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault.
He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail
in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible
and rendering them unfit to fly. He was desperate to
do anything he could to keep them from reaching the
American ships. Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron
took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch
O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.
Upon arrival he reported in and related the event surrounding
his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on
his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's
daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had in fact
destroyed five enemy aircraft. This took place on February
20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy's
first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to
win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch
was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home
town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to
fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named
in tribute to the courage of this great man. So the
next time you find yourself at O'Hare International,
give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying
his statue and his Medal of Honor. It's located between
Terminals 1 and 2.
SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?
Butch O'Hare was Easy Eddie's son.
A mentor told me that "we teach best what we most need
to learn" and perhaps that is why some of our greatest
opportunities occur in moments of vulnerability. A poor
role model, initially set by Butch O"Hare’s father
became a source of greatness created through a father’s
courage. INTEGRITY MATTERS.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on July 09, 2003
"Dog owner should help victim of canine
A friend of mine was bitten by a neighbor's dog--and
this dog has been a nuisance in the neighborhood for
some time. She asked the neighbor for reimbursement
of her medical costs, but the neighbor is dragging her
feet and won't give a straight answer. I know you are
not an attorney, but what is the ethical discussion
of this episode? It sure seems to me that this dog should
be put down and the medical costs reimbursed with a
sincere apology, but perhaps I'm over-reacting.
A concerned neighbor.
What you think about what should happen to this dog
and its owner is obviously strongly felt by you. However,
this situation might need to be addressed by those legally
charged with the proper disposition of such issues,
lawyers and judges in court. Even so, neighborliness
and graciousness, coupled with a sense of financial
responsibility on the part of the dog owner, could prevent
future legal and relationship complications. Regarding
what is appropriate legally, we must allow our system
of laws tomake that clear.
However, despite our lack of legal training, our integrity-centered
leadership criteria can be applied to this situation.
After all, as human beings who must share space with
one another, sometimes in very tight spaces, it is important
that we maintain a social climate where we can live
together peacefully and cooperatively, where possible.
Next door neighbors certainly fall within the category
of those with whom we should strive to live in harmony.
Sometimes, as neighbors, it could be appropriate to
go the extra mile to promote feelings of mutual support.
Respecting a neighbor’s privacy, while remaining
alert to potential safety threats for one another, can
strengthen relationships and a neighborhood. Allowing
an isolated dog-biting incident to escalate into a legal
confrontation could be compared to "pole vaulting over
a molehill" – and when individuals do over-react
or under-react, the financial damages can be staggering.
Hopefully, those parties involved in this "incident"
will choose the following integrity-centered actions: