in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper
column on June 16, 2004
"New York attorney general targets
The Attorney General of New York has charged GlaxoSmithKline,
plc, with fraud, for suppressing negative factual information
on their blockbuster drug Paxil, which is prescribed
for treating children with depression. It seems
there have been unpublished clinical studies which
show that the drug is little better than a placebo
in treating depression and in some cases may have even
led to more suicidal thinking by those same youth using
the drug. In certain circles of medicine it is
believed that suicidal thinking leads to suicide. To
allow this drug (obviously not completely safe) to
add to the horrors of those young people already at
risk is unconscionable. What type of thinking (collusion,
greed and disregard for humanity) must exist in the
higher levels of this or any company that would allow
harm to come to children simply to make a buck? What
does this say about integrity at GlaxoSmithKline?
Eliot Spitzer, the New York Attorney General, may be the first to call such behavior
illegal, as a recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggests. However,
common sense would certainly characterize such behavior as lacking in integrity.
There is no legitimate excuse for placing lives (of any age, and especially
the young) at risk when scientific information was available that would question
the safety of the product. Your questions ask in no uncertain terms: when will
the greedy and impatient animals of commerce behave responsibly? Is there no
limit to greed? Is there no one (including children) who would be safe from
those who would abuse them?
GlaxoSmithKline's accuser bases the charges on their
alleged actions of suppression of negative information. It
is one thing to promote a clinical study with favorable
results. It is quite another to report only the favorable
aspects of a clinical study from which negative results have
been deliberately omitted. If Mr. Spitzer is correct
and those at this company are found guilty of suppressing
information that could be or is life-threatening, then
those involved at this company have some serious charges
to resolve or face harsh penalties.
If the courts in New York determine that irresponsible
leadership is behind this lack of forthrightness, translate
as integrity, (in medical treatments
intended to heal and not harm youth in our society),
then confidence and trust in corporate values will
once again have taken a beating. Legitimate business
is intended to provide a needed product or service
that will be helpful and not harmful.
We do not yet know, as outsiders, what has gone on
at GlaxoSmithKline. What we do know is that there are
no excuses for supplying drugs that the manufacturer
knew might add to the misery of those who have turned
to their product for help. Should this company be found
guilty, we will have yet another opportunity to see
the wisdom in these words: It should be common
knowledge that free markets (including large drug companies)
must regulate themselves (by being responsible to their
customers) or governments will.
The worst outcome of this potentially-horrible situation
would be the unnecessary, preventable death of a child.
Long term damage also occurs to our free market system
of prescription drug commerce as it sets itself up for
more governmental intervention. We can watch this outcome,
hoping that the behaviors described do not turn out to
have been criminally-motivated.
published in Jim Bracher's
Integrity Matters newspaper column on June 9,
"Healthy eating habits up to individual"
Have you seen the movie: "Supersize Me? How
can fast-food marketers sleep at night? Where is the
integrity of those who create and distribute enticing
junk food commercials with their charming food "advertisements preying
upon innocent children? These youngsters and their
parents have been seduced into a zombie-like loyalty
to this fast and unhealthy food. Many appear "dependent
on their burger fix to the risk to their health?
McDonalds Corporation spends billions attracting children
to eat food that can be harmful to them. What do you
think? Don't big food companies have responsibilities
not to sell items that are bad for people?
My wife and I recently saw Mr. Morgan Spurlock's movie "Supersize
Me.His thesis is that our society has drifted (or
simply embraced enthusiastically) patterns of eating that all too frequently
lead to obesity and unnecessary health risks. Being a guilty party in this
race for convenience and speed, "Supersize Me challenged me to
demonstrate greater responsibility in how I take care of my own health, which
means how I maintain a legitimate partnership with my own physical being.
Since I will be 59 very soon, the message is for me to get serious and take
better care of the body that supports me. Eat right and exercise intelligently.
You asked about integrity issues. Who is to blame here: Me, the corporation,
other customers, television?
Let me start where I live, in me. Integrity can
be uncomfortable, especially when one knows that he
or she needs to make some personal adjustments to fulfill
any one (or all) of the "Eight Attributes of
an integrity-centered organization, or an integrity-centered
human being. After viewing the movie, I was troubled
by my own violation of # 5 of the "Eight Attributes: Partnership. I
have not been honoring of my own obligations to my
physical body. I am failing to honor the timely fulfillment
of my obligations to take proper care of my body. I
have not been eating healthy foods nearly often enough.
Even though my skeleton, muscles and organs continue
to function well - twenty-fours a day, I am not treating
my body as a partner. To make matters
even worse, if asked about eating an appropriate diet
and regularly following an intelligent exercise program,
my answers would simply be a resounding: NO. Shame
on me. Whose fault is that? It is my fault.
The time has come for me to address a hard issue:
maintaining a more intelligent and healthy diet. After
all, why wouldn't a reasonably bright person
choose vegetables and salads over pie and ice cream,
especially when so much medical information confirms
the harm that comes from too much fat in one's
diet? For years, those close to me have encouraged
me to eat healthier and avoid the foods and liquids
that can cause harm to the body. Ten plus years ago
I gave up drinking because my pancreas (and my surgeon)
told me in no uncertain terms to cease alcohol consumption.
I did what I was told, but kept a special place for
desserts and candies, popcorn and couch-potato munchies
for relaxing time in front of the television.
The movie "Supersize Me is
powerful. Go see it. According to this summary in the
New York Post, "Last February, Morgan Spurlock
decided to become a gastronomical guinea pig. His mission:
to eat three meals per day for 30 days at McDonald's
and document the impact on his health. Scores of cheeseburgers,
hundreds of fries and dozens of chocolate shakes later,
the formerly strapping 6-foot-2 New Yorker - who started
out at a healthy 185 pounds - had packed on 25 pounds.
But his supersized shape was the least of his problems.
Within a few days of beginning his drive-through diet,
Spurlock, 33, was vomiting out the window of his car,
and doctors who examined him were shocked at how rapidly
Spurlock's entire body deteriorated."
Free enterprise allows folks to create and market
what they want to sell. Burgers are one more example
of freedom of choice. So, let's assume some personal
responsibility for the choices we make and the choices
our children make. We need not think of ourselves as
victims. We live in a world abounding in constructive
truths. Take the example of healthy eating. A national
program called "5 A Day offers an excellent
program for better and smarter partnering with one's
own health, one's own body. We are responsible
for what we eat.
From the 5 A Day website we learn: www.5aday.com "Eating
5 or more servings of colorful fruits and vegetables
a day is part of an important plan for healthier living.
That's because deep hued fruits and vegetables
provide the wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber
and phytochemicals your body needs to maintain good
health and energy levels, protect against the effects
of aging and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Living
where we live, in the heart of where fruits and vegetables
are harvested, we only need purchase and enjoy the "5
a day offerings. Adults need to set the right
devoting serious attention to one's own health
through proper diet and exercise. My own integrity must
be enhanced by how I choose to manage my physical life.
Advertisers will do what they choose and we can buy their
products or elect to eat more healthily. As for me, I
got the message and intend to be a better partner with
myself. How about you?
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on June 30, 2004
"Cellular phone service can lead
It seems that retail sellers have come to rely increasingly
on the use of intentional customer deception as an
integral part of marketing strategy. Take for instance
the cellular phone business where the creation of numerous
similar services at varying prices under different
conditions are bundled together in complex ways then
sold under multiyear contract. Can there be ANY cellular
users that have not gotten `surprises' on their billings
due to incomplete understanding of the complexities
of their cellular service; and then found the customer
service to be just too time consuming to be practical
for recovering small costs. Everything they are doing
is legal of course but smells a bit like the docks
at Monterey Bay after the fishing boats arrive. Caveat
emptor is always good advice, but do you think it is
ethical for sellers to design and sell services with
the specific intention of outsmarting their buyers?
Integrity is about doing what is the right. We live in a world that makes obvious
that we cannot afford to treat one another shabbily. Mistakes are made. Apologies
are appropriate. Relationships need to be nurtured to sustain them and healed
when problems arise. The very same process applies to business practices.
You have described shabby treatment by one industry. Even though laws may
not have been broken - trust and confidence have been damaged.
Your description of the selling of certain cellular
services should be an embarrassment to those who lead
such enterprises. Of course what they are doing is
deceptive, and it lacks integrity. Until and unless
this industry regulates itself, the pressures will
build to the point where society will have had enough.
Selling techniques such as you described are frighteningly
similar to the incessant phone calling that interrupted
our early evenings and created a groundswell of negative
reactions forcing the "Do Not Call Registry" listing
that reshaped the telemarketing industry.
Citizens will, once again, reach the point of understandable
frustration and demand actions by their elected representatives.
Frustrated by the manipulative sales actions of the
cellular industry could then encourage citizens to
demand Congressional action. These elected representatives
will listen to the voices of the people and determine
that their own desire to stay in office will require
actions. Committees will be formed and investigations
will likely lead to stringent and perhaps even counter-productive
legislation. Regardless, the people will have been
forced to act. How sad for free markets and for the
purchasing public. Those business operators who have "played
fairly" will be slapped with the same controlling
hand that was designed only for those who created the
problem, in this instance, those who willfully eroded
trust and confidence between buyer and seller. At some
level, these game-players know they are using their
technical smarts to take advantage of others. They
know that have violated integrity, if not the law.
A smart competitor in this cellular services industry
would see this as a positive opportunity. The integrity-centered
operator would engage in "carpe diem" and
seize this moment to promote a straight forward and
honest approach. Customers would flock to those who
would say (and then implement) a "here is what
you get plan with no extra costs. " Hopefully,
the integrity message will come through and confirm
that yes, integrity matters and it pays.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on July 21, 2004
"Williams, after losing, proves she's
What a nice lesson in graciousness, given by tennis
star Ms. Serena Williams, in showing Ms. Maria Sharapova "the
ropes" in Centre Court at Wimbledon, after Maria
defeated Serena for the ladies singles' championship.
There are expected behaviors toward the Royal Box at
Wimbledon, as well as protocol for receiving and displaying
the championship trophy. Serena was not required to
help Maria, but she did. As a consequence, Maria came
across more poised because of Serena's thoughtfulness.
What do you think of this gesture?
Ms. Serena Williams demonstrated graciousness in how she offered reassurance
and guidance to a first-time winner at Wimbledon. In addition, her behaviors
communicated maturity regarding leadership and character. Serena may have
built an even more legitimate foundation for her career through her gracious
response in defeat than might have been achieved in yet another crushing
victory. We can never be certain, but we can assess the positive and constructive
value of her appropriate actions.
First, let's look at the setting of the London tennis classic staged
at Wimbledon. For many, Wimbledon is not just the most important tennis tournament
in the world. It is the only one. While the Australian, French and U.S. Opens
have their fans, the Championships on the lush lawns of south-west London are
as much a fashion show and a celebration of the British way of life as a sporting
occasion. For those who are younger, the traditions of Wimbledon come from
Nowhere else in the world are the players still required
to wear predominately white clothing. Advertising
and sponsorship are blasted at you from every corner
of the competitive tennis world - except at Wimbledon. And of course only in
London, SW19, do they still play lawn tennis on grass. So, yes, tradition is
important. Tastefulness is expected. And, with Serena's behavior toward
Maria, we now know that thoughtfulness and kindness are also appropriate. What
a wonderful way for these women to behave - to serve as role models for
current and future generations.
Second, Serena demonstrated leadership. Despite the
fact that she could not rally the necessary athletic
resources to the win the championship match, she
handled herself maturely. She adhered to the Wimbledon
culture, commitments, promises and rules. Even though
losing the match was not her plan, she remained honest
to her own sports code, not because of any external
force, but rather because of her own internal drive
to sustain organizational (personal and professional)
Finally, Serena exhibited character; the ability to
carry out the resolution long after the initial burst
of enthusiasm is gone. As a friend of mine says: "It
is not what happens to you that matters nearly as much as how you respond to
what happens to you." Character is the sum total of behaviors and is
most completely demonstrated when individuals perform under pressure. Serena
demonstrated consistency between her words - to play hard and fair -
and her deed - to treat an opponent, win or lose, as a worthy competitor.
Graciousness is almost always part of effective leadership character. Leaders
with character drive organizational culture in all actions, including helping
a first-time winner to enjoy the victory with greater ease, at Wimbledon. Serena
communicated that integrity really matters.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on August 18, 2004
"CSUMB dean's generosity is
a life lesson"
I am a new student at California State University
Monterey Bay and very enthused about it because I see
that the faculty members' interest in their students
starts even before the new school year has begun. Just
today I confirmed with a Dean who offered to meet with
me individually help me develop the right schedule
for my classes. I was thrilled. How does this generous
action by a dean speak to the integrity of leadership
of this institution?
Learning at your new school, California State University Monterey Bay, has
already begun for you and you have not yet enrolled in your first class.
When the dean of an academic institution will make the time to offer personal
help, there is an important message being broadcast; namely that people are
important. When leaders of an organization make themselves accessible to
those who most need them, which in this instance is a first-year student,
then the values are clear: students really do matter and relationships between
student and instructor are valued. Obviously, you will treasure this opportunity
to be assisted by a dean as you formulate your goals, select your course
of study and create your class schedule. Certainly, when you chose to write
your question to the Integrity Matters column you recognized the graciousness
of the dean's gesture and generosity of the offer. How fortunate for
you to see and experience the constructive side of higher education. You
have found a place to learn - about many things - and your knowledge
will include how to treat people properly.
Graciousness, one of our Eight Attributes of an Integrity-Centered
Organization, combines respect and discipline. In this
situation you are the recipient of care and concern
as you make your way into your new academic home, CSUMB.
A few months ago I invested time listening carefully
to youngsters varying in ages from 8 to 18, from the
Boys and Girls Clubs of Monterey Country, as they defined
our Eight Attributes of Integrity. On the subject of
graciousness, Attribute # 8, they were very clear.
And what they describe as the right way to exhibit
graciousness sounds a great deal like what you are
experiencing through your association with CSUMB, and
a dean willing to provide personal assistance. Children
from the Boys and Girls Clubs said that in order to
be gracious one needed to be kind - not cruel or sarcastic;
thoughtful, not judging. By being thoughtful, these
young people felt they and others could better listen
to and learn about others. Further, these members of
the Boys and Girls Clubs reminded me and hopefully
all of us of how important it is to be patient - not
rude, allowing others to finish their thoughts. And
then they added: be helpful - not harmful and to be
sure to remember that we are all more alike than different.
How great that you have recognized integrity in your
new school home at CSUMB and may your willingness to
highlight the "graciousness" of a department
head be an inspiration to all of us to lend a hand
to those in need and do so in caring and supportive
ways. Integrity Matters, all the time.
"Coaching Integrity and Partnership"
I read that Mike Krzyzewski is staying at Duke University
after turning down a $40 million dollar package from
the Los Angeles Lakers to become their coach. What
a wonderful lesson in family values and loyalty this
represents, and a nice lesson in integrity, too--do
Yes, I agree. Hopefully, many individuals across this nation - especially
those in North Carolina or those who have an affiliation with Duke University - will
feel as you do, and will find a way to send to letter of appreciation to this
world-class coach saying something along these lines: "Thank you, Coach
Krzyzewski. If ever we needed a positive role model in sports, that time is
now. Great job, Coach K. You embody the message that integrity
matters - in
what you say and what you do, every day. Your decision to stay at Duke University,
support its programs and people, choosing personal values over cash, is an
example our society will treasure, for a long time."
While too many sports pages are covered with negative
stories about performance enhancing drug abuse scandals,
violence on the ice, on the courts, on the field and
in the seats filled with overly aggressive fans and
parents - what a delight to know that there are
thoughtful leaders with their eyes on the real prize - the
impact one can have on other people, and not simply
the accumulation of money! Coach Mike Krzyzewski understands
what our Attribute # 5 Partnership means in the context
of integrity. He honors obligations and prides himself
on the timely fulfillment of obligations, moral and
legal. Coach K knows what is important and he operates
Mike Lopresti of Gannett New Service and writers from
the Associated Press report that Mike Krzyzewski has
spent 24 years building a legacy at Duke that no current
men's college basketball coach can rival. Coach
K has become synonymous with his school - a bond
not even the glitz of Hollywood and the NBA's
showcase Los Angeles' franchise, with all of
its money, could break. "Duke has always taken
up my whole heart," Krzyzewski said Monday after
turning down an offer to become the Lakers' head
coach. "Your heart has to be in whatever you
lead," said Krzyzewski, who has won three national
titles at Duke. "It became apparent that this
decision was somewhat easier to make because you have
to follow your heart and lead with it." "I
don't want to say never, but I also don't
want to lead anyone on. ... I want to coach for a long
time," he said.
No other active coach comes to mind who has a clearer
sense of college basketball - what it should
mean, and what a team needs to do to get to the top
and stay there. In San Antonio last spring, Krzyzewski
talked of the look on the faces of each new wave
of Dukies he brought to a Final Four. "It's
one of the reasons I've always stayed in college
basketball, because there's a genuineness," he
said. "It's priceless, just like kids and grandkids."
Please pay attention parents, teachers, school administrators,
public officials, celebrities and aspiring leaders - here
is a role model with integrity who knows that people,
traditions, commitments and loyalty count. He and his
decision to stay at Duke University, to guide, teach
and motivate young people, illustrates powerfully why
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on August 4, 2004
"Resignation tests the organization,
I am a board member of a non profit [on the East Coast].
A manager resigned in a bit of a temper tantrum, gave
no notice and the resignation was accepted. She later
regretted her precipitous action and apologized and
asked to be rehired. I have no formal training in management.
What should we do? Is there literature and/or advice
you can give me? We have a board meeting this week
and I need help soon.
Leadership is and probably always will be an "art" that integrates
insight, sensitivity, timing and perseverance - combining challenges to be
the best we can be with the realities of our shortcomings. And, so it is with
this issue: anger, frustration, precipitous actions and attempts to make a
complex situation more manageable going forward in order to leverage the
best for your organization's clients/customers, employees and the organization
itself. Your board position requires to that you assess the values and operating
principles as they apply in this key employee situation.
As a policy-making board member, yours is a role of
advice and consent regarding operations and management.
You have described an all-too-common issue: managing
the disappointments that occur when relationships fracture.
When tempers flare, usually something happens that
is not constructive. One can apply that insight on
the micro level between individuals or on the geopolitical
level and see nations go to war. Yours is a corporate
(not-for-profit) issue and in all likelihood, the integrity
of the organization's culture will be tested by the
way in which your leader and your board handle the "path
forward" with reference to the angry employee
(who now wants to come back). Please respond in these
- If the individual is allowed to re-join the team
- you could be considered a compassionate, forgiving
and supportive organization or an organization that
tolerates unprofessional behaviors by key people,
and may even communicate a lack of professional standards
that sanction similar
behaviors by others, now and in the future.
- If there are no consequences for the destructive "tantrum-like" behaviors,
your organization sets in motion a set of cultural
permissions that will not lead to long-term health
for any of your valuable stakeholders: clients, donors,
employees, board members or community observers.
- You may want to spend some time with the executive
who was treated to the angry resignation and then
received the request for being rehired and learn
what the circumstances were that lead to the precipitous
actions. If there is an explanation that meets your
board's common sense explanation, then the board
has an easier job. What does the executive believe
is the best action to be taken for all parties involved.
The board then chooses to support or challenge the
recommendation of the supervisor in charge and therein
lies the real positive impact of the problem. This
crisis is the opportunity for the board to encourage
the fine tuning of the skill level of the leadership
of the organization. Further, the employee base will
know, regardless of which direction you go, that there are serious consequences
for immature behavior - from whatever quarter such actions emerge.
- Please review the following two sets of guidelines
and bring them into your conversations regarding
the best path forward for the board and the organization
you help to lead.
UNDERSTANDING AND POLARIZATION -- team application*
When individuals: Understand the required skill sets to make their team productive,
Are valued by and bring value to the organization, Are committed to the vision,
mission and strategy, and Are signed-on to the organization's supported behavior
and culture, then no issue can polarize the group or create destructive behaviors.
SELECTION AND INTEGRITY*
"When selecting individuals to join an organization, or entrusting them
with the responsibilities of leadership, one must value: Integrity above motivation,
Motivation above capacity, Capacity above wisdom, Wisdom above experience, Experience
above knowledge, and Knowledge above training. What must be known and considered
is not a list of claimed positions or achievements, but the qualities and characteristics
of the person."
- Remember, first and always, that people make mistakes,
they under-react and they over-react. If they make
the error once, it is a mistake. If they repeat the
same counter-productive action, it is a pattern.
Be aware. If they act the same destructive way a
third time, it is a habit and habits are extremely
difficult to change.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on July 28, 2004
"Education official's comments strike
I was appalled at our state education secretary's
remarks to a 6-year-old girl in Santa Barbara last
week! Richard Riordan told the young child that her
name meant "stupid dirty girl" when she told
Education Secretary Riordan that her name meant "Egyptian
Although he has apologized, his comment was unacceptable.
Is this the type of individual we want as the education
secretary for California? What kind of message is our
Governor sending by not asking Riordan to resign?
Children are special because they are young, innocent and capable of absorbing
so very much that adults and the world have to teach them. They are precious
because they are the stewards of the very culture we bestow upon them. They
are the promise of all of our tomorrows because they and they alone, are
the carriers of hope, healing, and wholeness in an often despairing, diseased
and broken world. At the moment when any role model, (whether an adult, a
parent, a teacher, a celebrity, a public official or a member of a state
governor's staff), behaves inappropriately, in the instance you cite,
cruelly, then actions must be taken.
Like you, I have seen the video tape of the Education
Secretary Riordan's sarcastic response to this
young child. She cried. He laughed. How utterly unacceptable
was his behavior. Were this a different circumstance
and the Secretary found himself addressing youth, such
an insensitive response might have earned him a bloody
nose. Such callousness, thoughtlessness and impropriety
have no place in positions of leadership, and most
certainly not in roles that are designed to nurture
education and build bridges of understanding and trust.
Secretary Riordan, for the embarrassment he has caused
a child, his office, the state he serves, and the Governor
who appointed him - should tender his resignation,
Has Secretary Riordan served California well as Mayor
of Los Angeles? I am not reviewing here his public
service record. However, what can be known is that
when citizens, even highly visible, rich and powerful
ones, behave in ways that are "out of bounds" - culturally,
racially, sexually, religiously, and in other social
ways - they sometimes lose their positions of
authority and power. A sportscaster who made racially-charged
comments was removed from his well-paying announcer
job. One elected official who publicly praised an elderly
colleague's earlier political position, aware
that racially motivated activities are not considered
within the bounds of responsible cultural behavior,
even that person can be forced out of a powerful position,
in this instance, including the Majority Leader of
the United States Senate.
Sometimes the wisest counsel comes from the youngest
among us. In solving this problem, addressing the poor
choices of words by Mr. Riordan, we recommend he study
the following definition of Attribute # 8, Graciousness,
provided to us by youngsters from the Boys and Girls
Clubs. They define graciousness, respect and discipline,
- Be kind - not cruel or sarcastic
- Be thoughtful - not judging (listen and learn
- Be patient - not rude (allow others to finish
- Be helpful - not harmful
Integrity Matters and each of us must lead future
generations, caringly and graciously. The Governor
and State Secretary of Education need to exhibit
leadership integrity, through their individual accountability,
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on August 11, 2004
"When it comes to standards, ask these
As I am about to enter college, a major discussion
point has been affirmative action. Many universities
across America employ an affirmative action program.
I personally believe that the best qualified should
be accepted regardless of race. Allowing sub-par students
admission because they are considered a minority is
still a form of racism. Does being politically correct
in this situation debase the integrity of our nation's
Long ago, my father passed along an interesting insight. He said that minor
surgery happens to other people. When, as a young man, I asked for the meaning
of the statement, my father replied; "When a surgeon was cutting on
me," Dad said, "the surgery was always major." Other people,
however, could call their medical procedures minor. But, Dad's were
major. Perhaps this inherited perspective has convinced me that when I am
placing my life (survival) in the care of other people - then, just
like my Dad, I feel my situation is major, and my requirements for the surgeon's
skills and performance are uncompromising.
So, given that simple parental wisdom, what might
each individual reader's responses be to the
following six questions?
- What is your level of expectation of surgical
skill when you are on the operating table?
- Would you be willing to accept a person's
professional certification of competence simply because
he or she was part of a quota system?
- Will you accept a lesser set of medical or technical
qualifications, simply because the 'playing field'
in our history, or in their professional specialty,
has not been level?
- Will you tolerate someone hired to "fix" your
automobile's brakes or steering gear lacking
the talent and skill required to confidently make these
repairs, simply because he or she was "included" in
the mechanic's certification process? Would you
stake the lives of your family on that?
- Will you be happy to work with a pharmacist
whose credentials were marginally acquired, because
in a politically-correct world, lesser talented
people were licensed in order to fulfill a quota
system? Would you trust the medicines dispensed
by such a person -- even if a mistake could be
- Do you want to fly with a pilot who may have
mastered most of the skills, but not all of them,
simply because it was determined that the students
selected for the pilot training program should
be broader based, not based upon aptitude or talent?
Sooner or later, standards matter. In some professions,
when mistakes are made, people die. Sooner or later,
loose performance standards and practices, no matter
how thoughtful or how inclusive they might be, result
in real trouble. As much as we want, and need, for
everyone to move forward in achieving life's
greatest personal and professional rewards - excellence
still counts. We want the best runners to represent
our nation in the Olympics. Should we want anything
less in other walks of life? Unless or until we are
willing to stand for the principles of excellence,
regardless of the consequences, we will be choosing
to place innocent lives at incredibly high and often
unnecessary risks. This is not what integrity-centered
leadership means. Everyone can and should be afforded
opportunities. Everyone can try out for the team. But
not everyone wins a gold medal.
"Righting a Wrong - the Enron
An ex-Enron executive, who was associated with both
Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, John Forney, age 42,
pleaded guilty on August 5, 2004, to charges that he
manipulated energy markets during California's
power crisis. He will now cooperate with the on-going
investigation and reveal details about how other energy
firms may have played a role in manipulating prices,
which drove up electrical costs for Californians. Does
this mean that justice is working? Is integrity winning?
One year ago, on August 13, 2003, Integrity Matters, this very column, offered
the following hope to readers concerned that little or nothing seemed to
be happening with reference to the prosecution of those who were at the top
of Enron when billions of dollars were being squandered. We felt then that
the guilty would be brought to justice, and we still believe the "system" can
Take heart, it is not over for Skilling and Lay, at
least, not yet. Apart from headlines, the investigation
continues. Many students of the law who are observers
of the Enron mess believe that criminal charges may yet be filed against one
or both of these individuals, and relatively soon. If you are frustrated by the
very slow pace of the investigation, you are not alone. The eight or nine federal
prosecutors who make up the task force of the Justice Department have been assisted
by about 30 agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They have been working
on this case since January 2002. These kinds of investigations are complicated
and take time. (See: Integrity Matters, by Bracher and Halloran, 2004,
2004 and the story continues to unfold. Yes, it appears
that justice is working, to some degree. In the case
of Mr. Forney, his own lawyer, Mr. Edwin Prater,
said that his client has "accepted responsibility for his actions. It was
a good opportunity for John and his family at this time to certainly right a
wrong he had a part in and for them to move on with their lives." The words
of the attorney sound sincere, but read on.
Interestingly, Mr. Forney's admitting of his mistakes seems to be in conjunction
with the federal grand jury being willing to drop 10 of the 11 counts they had
against him, and through a plea bargain, Forney will now assist California and
other public agencies in their lawsuits accusing the industry of inflating energy
prices. Mr. Forney was a skilled "now you see it and now you don't" con-artist,
at the very highest level. He traded back to Californians the very energy that
they had originally sold to him, but in the re-sale he made sure the prices (and
Enron's profits, and his own bonus points) were greatly inflated.
The guilty plea, according to David Kravets, of the
Associated Press, comes after transcripts of the
Enron energy traders showed them openly discussing
manipulating California's power market during profanity-laced telephone conversations
in which they merrily gloated about ripping off "those poor grandmothers" during
the state's energy crunch in 2000-01.
Yes, irresponsible behavior is being prosecuted,
but, as with many aspects of life, it comes with
a price and a certain unpleasant smell.
"Presidents, Politics and Prayer"
Perhaps you read of the unfortunate situation that
took place at St. Ann's Episcopal Church in Kennebunkport,
Maine, on Sunday morning, August 8, 2004. The President
along with the First Lady, and his father and mother
were the butt of some comments by the Reverend M.L.
Agnew (a visiting minister there) during his sermon
and again at a time of prayer. Regardless of the political
party of the President of the United States, shouldn't
he be allowed to worship as is the right of any citizen
of our country without being harassed? What do you
Propriety is an integrity-of-relationships term defined as a "quality
or condition of being proper" and one word often associated with it is
the term, "manners." Polite social behavior would not include inviting
friends into one's home for a family meal, only to then humiliate and
berate them. It would appear that the situation you have described, about the
Sunday morning verbal attack at church, illustrates a lack of manners on the
part of the visiting priest. Certainly, a spiritual home, a religious shelter,
where people come to worship and pray to regain their bearings in order to
more effectively deal with life's challenges - most especially
in this setting, seekers should be treated with graciousness and propriety.
Even in the work-a-day world basic management training encourages praise in
public and criticism in private. Should not any citizen, including the President
of the United States, be afforded the common-sense courtesies of socially-recommended
behaviors? The answer is: yes.
There is a time and there is a place for almost everything.
However, simply because one has the "pulpit" (the
power, authority and opportunity) does not mean that
such privileges should be used in so brutal a way.
If the spiritual leader feels it is acceptable to "clobber" the
rich for their material wealth, then why not humiliate
the "beggars" for not contributing more
to society? Neither bludgeoning approach is appropriate.
Over and over, we honor the time-tested wisdom that
responsible leaders will "comfort the afflicted
and afflict the comfortable." Prophets of many
religious traditions have been willing, even eager,
to remind those with wealth and power of their social
responsibilities to be caring stewards, engaged in
the constructive use of all resources. Timing and graciousness
often separate the immobilized and self-proclaimed
change agents who come across as angry, bitter and
resentful "wanna be's" from successful
leaders who initiate and facilitate constructive improvements
with their intensity, sensitivity and follow-through.
The Reverend Agnew may have many legitimate reasons,
from his perspective, to challenge the leadership of
the Bush presidency, the decisions by the Bush family
in how they allocate their wealth, or any number of
their collective and individual actions. He has that
right in our free society. He does not, however, have
the license to behave so mockingly and abusively to
these people in the ways described by Associated Press
Writer, Scott Lindlaw's story. Perhaps he was confused
by his personal relationship with the Bush family and
his pastoral role as presiding priest. Regardless of
the reasons, even Presidents deserve private counsel.
It is more gracious and it is more effective.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on August 25, 2004
"Loyalty doesn't rule out confrontation"
A group of my buddies smoke marijuana on a regular
basis. They do not leave the garage where my friend
lives while high so they only do harm to themselves
and thankfully not others. I want to help them because
I know they are doing themselves harm and breaking
the law, but at the same time I don't want to
violate their trust. Is there anyway I can help them
without breaking the loyalty of friendship?
Loyalty has been defined by the former head basketball coach of Georgetown
University, John Thompson, in the following way: "Loyalty is not always
saying yes to me, in fact, it may mean saying harsh things to me. But, disloyalty
is ever saying anything negative about me to anyone else." Whether
you agree with his definition or not, one truth is evident. Friends are defined
by the integrity of their relationship. Even the adult-beverage commercials
remind us that "friends don't let friends drive drunk."
Not wanting to offer inadequate counsel to your question,
the advice of a recently retired Chief of Police was
sought. His response was clear: the effects of marijuana
use on the brain, heart, lungs and social behavior
are negative. So, how much do you care about your friends?
Before determining what you should do with reference
to confronting them about their marijuana use, please
study the findings posted on the website of the National
Institutes of Health and the National Institute on
Drug Abuse www.drugabuse.gov/Infofax/marijuana.html
What you will learn is that marijuana use, with reference
to the brain, a critically important organ, decreases
memory and learning abilities and distorts perception.
It reduces coordination and alters activity of dopamine
neurons that are responsible in regulation of motivation
and reward. Marijuana numbs the individual.
Marijuana accelerates heart rate, raises blood pressure
and raises the chances of heart attack by 400% within
one hour of smoking. Regarding damage to the lungs,
consider this: heightened risk of lung infections,
increased tendency to have obstructed airways and the
greater likelihood of throat, lung or mouth cancer.
Additional research from the National Institutes of
Health also found that marijuana may cause depression,
anxiety and a lack of motivation. Studies have shown
that habitual marijuana use causes students to have
lower grades that could be related to their impaired
attention and memory.
So, what should you do? Your answers to these questions
may help you decide:
- Are you willing to jeopardize your "popularity" with
your buddies and tell them of your concerns about
their own personal health risks?
- Will you be comfortable with your own conscience
if you elect not to confront your buddies and they
wander from their current smoking center and injure
others with an automobile?
- Now that you have well-researched information
literally at your fingertips, that could help these
friends look at their priorities and their behaviors
differently, how can you not share it with them?
Integrity-centered relationships present the truth
to friends, compassionately, even when it hurts.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on September 1, 2004
"Raiding former employer's workers
poor business choice"
What should I do? I am a 34 year-old hospitality professional.
My new position, a big promotion, requires that I drive
growth, rapidly. Growth will require more employees.
One of my former employers has a number of talented
individuals who could be of great value to me in my
new job. Is it a violation of integrity for me to hire
from my former company? I do not want to destroy my
relationship with a colleague who is still there (who
was my boss and remains a professional and personal
friend) - but, in a couple of instances, folks
from there already have indicated that they do want
to join me.
If you are asking (me, yourself, or anyone else) if it is the right thing to
do (raiding the talent pool of a former employer) then you likely feel that
it might not be the appropriate action. Before you head down the path of
progress, hoping to avoid the slippery slope of self-serving selfishness,
answer for yourself these four questions:
- Do you value the relationship with your former
employer? If so, then consider approaching the person,
directly, and clarify your moral dilemma.
- Even if you do not value your personal relationship
with this former employer, do you want to develop
a reputation as a "raider" who places
the highest priority on success and cash flow,
communicating that people are simply pawns to be
used and then tossed aside?
- Are you willing to meet, face-to-face, with the
impacted individual (who was your supervisor and who
has recruited and trained talented employees) and be
forthright regarding your objectives?
- Do you intend to "come clean" about
your needs and ask of the other person how best to
proceed along your pathway without destroying the goals
and plans of the other party involved? In one way or
another we are all in partnership with those with whom
we have been associated - for better or worse - and
as a consequence, since every industry is really small,
it is unwise to burn bridges.
Integrity is about partnerships throughout our lives.
Honest partnerships (marriage, family, friendship,
political, social, business and even spiritual) require
all parties to honor obligations. Integrity-centered
relationships pride themselves on the timely fulfillment
of all commitments, legal and moral. Therefore, the
future of who you are becoming (as an integrity-centered
individual) is now being established by how you address
your personal and professional goals, in the larger
context of minimizing the harm you do to others.
Integrity is also about character, which was defined
by a youngster as "what we do when no one is
watching." A genuine business friend, who cares
about you, will be honored by your forthrightness and
will respect your honesty. Talent is a valuable commodity,
in every industry, and the desire on your part to build
integrity will establish your legitimate leadership - over
the long haul. Be up front. Ask for support. Treasure
the relationship with your integrity. Success will
"Anti-Depressant Warnings Sought"
You mentioned in your June 16, 2004, Integrity
Matters column that unless large drug firms regulated themselves,
the government would. It was reported (on August 21,
2004, by Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press)
that Federal health officials are preparing stronger
warnings for some anti-depressants used by children
after new analyses back a possible link to suicide.
So, how can these drug manufacturers proceed selling "risky
drugs" and still sleep at night? Do they have
Chemical reactions in the human body are incredibly complex. Even though high
quality research is required before drugs are approved by the Federal Drug
Administration (FDA) to be brought to the market place, and even though they
are time-consuming and expensive - 100% removal of risks, highly desirable,
is the exception and not the rule. The infinite number of variables for any
given substance, once it enters the human body, regardless of its positive
effects, can challenge the workings of large computer data base. As a consequence,
the integrity of the manufacturing firms must be accepted at face value or
the harm their products would do and the liabilities they would face, well,
it would put them out of business. To respond to your first question about
how those who manufacture drugs can sleep at night, the answer is clear.
The vast majority of business leaders are doing the very best they know how.
They make mistakes. The fix their problems and they go on just like the rest
However, what should concern us about this youth health
problem is how such anti-depressant drugs are prescribed. "While doctors prescribe anti-depressants
for children- which is legal despite the lack of approval - there
is little evidence that any other than Prozac work for pediatric depression,
thus deepening concern about even potential risks." (Neergarrd/AP
95 cases were deemed definite suicidal behavior, according
to FDA's Dr.
Andrew Mosholder, who has urged the agency since February 2004 to discourage
pediatric use of anti-depressants other than Prozac until the issue is settled.
Because his bosses disagreed with his initial findings, the FDA did not allow
Mosholder to make his argument at its first public hearing on the anti-depressant
controversy, a move that has generated congressional investigations. The latest
analyses validate Mosholder's original research. However, making the
situation more complex for parents seeking expertise and medical assistance,
Dr. Darrel Regier of the American Psychiatric Association favors strong FDA
warnings for very close monitoring of depressed youth given prescribed drugs,
with no limitation to using only one of the drugs, because it does not meet
the needs of about 30% of those youth facing depression.
When addressing health issues, personally or on behalf
of family and friends, integrity is the key. The
integrity issue centers in the inter-relationships
between and among all of those who are to be affected by the medical treatment
prescribed. Complete disclosure should minimize surprises. Answers will certainly
be need to these five questions. Where does one turn for accurate and complete
information on the prescribed treatment? What can be known about the side effects?
What alternatives exist? What are the risks? What are the consequences for
those who do not respond well to the treatment?
Children are tomorrow's promise. We must protect them from harm, when
and where we can. Knowledge and responsibility are the keys to the integrity
of stewardship for the young.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on September 8, 2004
"Friend's parents provide graciousness
You write about Integrity and the Eight
Attributes. One attribute is graciousness. Where is graciousness
learned? Are there examples? What difference does it
Graciousness, which can be defined as respect and discipline, is learned by
constructive examples, positive role models. A friend and I were discussing
where he learned the importance of graciousness and he, with moist eyes,
passed along this story from his growing-up years. With his permission, we
present his story. It changed him; touched me and maybe it will transform
and teach those who read it now.
"My father and mother owned a small "Mom & Pop" grocery
store in the tough neighborhood, all Mexican and
all poor, where my brothers and I grew up in south
El Paso, Texas. My parents had inherited the store
from my paternal grandparents, who had emigrated
from Mexico in the early 1900's. On Sunday nights
during the spring and summer months, my parents would
show free movies to the neighborhood that surrounded
(and patronized) my parents' store."
"My father would use impromptu barriers to keep
traffic from in front of the store. Our neighbors
did not complain about the street closure because
they were all in attendance at the movies they
shared with all who showed up. My parents owned
a movie projector and my father constructed a make-shift,
portable movie screen which he propped-up against
the store's front wall. Dad would rent, from a
movie rental business, the movies so folks from
the neighborhood could enjoy a pleasant evening "at
"On Sunday nights, everyone from throughout the neighborhood
brought their own chairs and blankets, from which
they watched the movies. Everyone was treated to
a movie, a treat that they otherwise could not to
afford. The children would also receive a free scoop
of ice cream from our store (my brothers and I were
very popular with our peers--at least on Sunday nights)."
"Mom and Dad operated that small grocery store until
they retired in the early 1980's. All that time,
the store was never the subject of a theft or a robbery,
even when my parents, by then elderly, would work
at their store late into the evening."
"My parents were gracious with their customers and
their customers were gracious with them. In return,
my parents continued my family's tradition, begun
by my grandparents, of being good merchants, honest
and gracious. My parents are proof that doing the
right thing in business pays off."
So, what does this story mean? Doing the right thing,
graciously, has both short and long term benefits.
Being kind, thoughtful, patient and helpful will, over
the longer haul, build relationships, community, trust
and hope. Demonstrating care and concern for all of
those with whom we associate sustains the integrity
of all institutions: marriage, family, friendships,
community and society. Integrity Matters and Integrity
Please let us know if you have a story about integrity
and graciousness that you are willing to have printed
in this column. Positive examples are important and
you can help by sharing a story about integrity and
graciousness with us: email@example.com.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on September 15, 2004
"Mentors teach the ropes of integrity"
You have mentioned mentors in some of your integrity
columns. What is a mentor and why are they important?
What does a mentor have to do with integrity?
Mentors are wise and trusted counselors. Mentors are teachers. Mentors are
those special individuals who have special gifts that enable them to perceive
the potential of another individual. They choose to assist others in becoming
better. Mentors are commonly involved assisting their colleagues with improved
sports performance, constructive thinking, language refinement, communications
impact and effective behaviors. Yes, mentors are found teaching and coaching
in all of life's activities. Mentors connect with their students, their
protégés, often around common values and from that foundation,
they build life-changing relationships centering upon integrity and interpersonal
A protégé is sometimes defined as one
who is willing to accept guidance by a more influential
or experienced person. Earlier in the history of the
United States, professions encouraged this tutorial
approach to learning (serving as an apprentice). The
apprentice approach was embraced by many disciplines,
including physicians, lawyers, teachers, silversmiths,
typesetters and soldiers. The next generation of workers
and leaders acquired their skills from those with track
records and experience. Theory without practical application
was of little interest.
Yes, mentors can make a positive difference in the
way an individual develops. Mentors require of their
students, their protégés, a willingness
to listen and an eagerness to learn. Mentors are seeking
those who are capable of admitting that they do not
have all of the answers and can be open and honest
about their vulnerabilities. Mentors recognize the
inner strength required of those who are willing to
ask for assistance. Mentors are eager to reach out
and lend a hand to those who are not too proud to acknowledge
real or imagined fears and anxieties. Mentors offer
the lifeline of hope and insight to those willing to
risk the hard challenges that often accompany improvement,
regardless of the activity.
Mentors are those special individuals who are close
enough to us to encourage our growth and objective
enough to critique our mistakes. They combine a pat
on the back and a swift kick in the backside with equal
vigor. They care so much about us and our reaching
our potential that they are willing to risk our rejection
in order to remain substantively involved with us.
We can never repay them. We can, however, pass along
their wisdom and honest caring. We can share their
wisdom with those who are willing make themselves vulnerable
through intentional listening, an appetite for learning,
and a genuine commitment to growth. We can then pay-forward
mentor-quality care by helping others to incorporate
the same kind of positive and purposeful counsel. Gifts
from mentors are to be given away, passed along to
others as generously as they were originally given.
Mentors are beacons of light. They spread hope. Their
teaching and encouragement remain guideposts on the
ever-changing path that carries human beings forward.
Mentors help to pave the pathway, through insight and
discipline, so that those they choose to lead can achieve
vision and mission to some purposeful destination,
wherever it leads. So, for these reasons alone, one
can see that mentoring is all about integrity. If you
do not have a mentor, find one. If you have not yet
mentored someone, after having been mentored yourself,
then find a protégé, soon, and pay forward
the integrity you received.
"The Purpose of Business"
I am a student at California State University at Monterey
Bay. I believe it was Milton Friedman who said that
a company's first obligation is to its owners
the stockholders and that all other policies should
be subservient to the expectations of the stockholders.
These expectations usually consist of making a profit.
I also understand that giving to charities is good
public relations. Given this premise; if a publicly
traded company decides to invest company time and money
to help charities local communities and other "noble
causes", then do you feel that the company is
obligated to first run these proposals by the stockholders
and seek majority consent before implementation? Same
question on Executive compensation.
Professors and those who offer business theories have a great deal to teach
those who are managing organizations. Often, through academic research and
field study, insights can bring constructive and important perspectives to
many disciplines, including business. Dr. Milton Friedman, recipient of the
1976 Nobel Memorial Prize for economic science, has been a senior research
fellow at the Hoover Institution since 1977 is a valuable resource for business
and organizational leadership. A review of his biography confirms his breadth
and depth of understanding, namely that he is widely regarded as the leader
of the Chicago School of monetary economics, which stresses the importance
of the quantity of money as an instrument of government policy and as a determinant
of business cycles and inflation.
Milton Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial
Prize for economic science, has been a senior research
fellow at the Hoover Institution since 1977. He is
also the Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service
Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University
of Chicago, where he taught from 1946 to 1976, and
was a member of the research staff of the National
Bureau of Economic Research from 1937 to 1981.
Friedman was awarded the Presidential Medal of
Freedom in 1988 and received the National Medal
of Science the same year.
He is widely regarded as the leader of the Chicago
School of monetary economics, which stresses
the importance of the quantity of money as an
instrument of government policy and as a determinant
of business cycles and inflation.
In addition to his scientific work, Friedman has
also written extensively on public policy, always
with a primary emphasis on the preservation and
extension of individual freedom. His most important
books in this field are (with Rose D. Friedman)
Capitalism and Freedom (University of Chicago
Press, 1962); Bright Promises,
Dismal Performance (Thomas Horton and Daughters, 1983), which consists
mostly of reprints of columns he wrote for Newsweek from 1966 to 1983; (with Rose D. Friedman) Free
to Choose (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), which complements a ten-part
television series of the same name shown over the Public Broadcasting
Service (PBS) network in early 1980; and (with Rose D. Friedman) Tyranny
of the Status Quo (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), which complements
a three-part television series of the same name, shown over PBS in
He was a member of the President's Commission on
an All-Volunteer Armed Force and the President's
Commission on White House Fellows. He was a member
of President Ronald Reagan's Economic Policy
Advisory Board (a group of experts from outside
the government named in 1981 by President Reagan).
He has also been active in public affairs, serving
as an informal economic adviser to Senator Barry
Goldwater in his unsuccessful campaign for the
presidency in 1964, to Richard Nixon in his successful
1968 campaign, to President Nixon subsequently,
and to Ronald Reagan in his 1980 campaign.
He has published many books and articles, most
notably A Theory of the Consumption
Function, The Optimum Quantity of Money and Other
Essays, and (with A. J. Schwartz) A
Monetary History of the United States, Monetary
Statistics of the United States, and Monetary Trends in the
United States and the United Kingdom.
He is a past president of the American Economic
Association, the Western Economic Association,
and the Mont Pelerin Society and is a member
of the American Philosophical Society and the
National Academy of Sciences.
He also has been awarded honorary degrees by universities
in the United States, Japan, Israel, and Guatemala,
as well as the Grand Cordon of the First Class
Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Japanese
government in 1986.
Friedman received a B.A. in 1932 from Rutgers University,
an M.A. in 1933 from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D.
in 1946 from Columbia University.
Two Lucky People, his and Rose D. Friedman's memoirs,
was published in 1998 by the University of Chicago
To answer your question about decision-making and
leadership, let's take
the issues one at a time. First, the purpose of a business is to meet a
market need in such a way that a profit is returned
for the investment made to meet that need over the
long term. Primary responsibilities of members of
boards of directors, who are themselves elected by
the stockholders, include hiring and firing the Chief
Executive Officer, maintaining the integrity and
solvency of the institution, and making sure that
all stakeholders are kept informed.
Second, corporate generosity, internally and externally,
needs to serve the interests of the investors by supporting
long term goals as they enhance corporate reputation,
or as they engender greater loyalty among stakeholders
(customers, employees, stockholders, suppliers, members
of the communities where the institution resides.).
The direct connection between charity and profit need
not be immediate, and it need not be a direct link
(as in a quid pro quo), but investors and other stakeholders
may assume that such a benefit ought to exist. Most
business enterprises exist to create a legitimate product
or service for a profit, and all activities related
to this enterprise need to have some link to increased
productivity and improved profitability.
Third, as we know, in a public company, the stockholders
elect a board of directors which is then responsible
for overseeing the performance of the management team
in meeting the long term interests of the stockholders.
It is they who should therefore oversee the corporate
gift approach. It would be cumbersome and expensive
indeed to review every business expenditure, whether
charitable contributions or even an exceptional purchase,
with the stockholders.
Fourth, boards of directors have little time beyond
that the time that is required to oversee the activities
of the corporation in summary fashion, usually only
once each quarter. If board members do not fulfill
their fiduciary responsibilities, then they should
be replaced. Because business activities are fast-paced
and highly fluid in nature, it seems unwise for competent
executives to spend their energies seeking prior approval
for elements of their routine administrative activities.
Such micromanagement (by any board) could lead to immobilized
leadership, and ultimately to failure of the business.
Fifth, leaders are hired to do a job. If they succeed,
reward them and if they fail,
then help them to improve or if they fall short, replace
them. Board members have an incredibly important job
to sustain the integrity of the company's or
the organization's viability.
Is a company first responsible for the welfare of
its employees or its customers?
During a business transaction, an important customer
becomes dissatisfied by the quality of work from one
of the company's employees. The customer is unreasonable
based on his/her demands, and seeks the manager to
file a complaint. The employee handled the situation
in a proper and orderly manner, and was correct in
how the customer was handled. When speaking to the
manager, the customer asks that the employee be "let
go" from the company. Is the manager's
responsibility first to their customers or to their
Leaders of organizations (including companies, whether small or large) are
responsible for everything that goes on under their "umbrella." All
stakeholders have an impact (not necessarily final say) on priorities and
decisions. What makes answering your question so very important has to do
with leadership and how it is distinguished from those who are only pretending
to lead. Only the boss in this situation knows for sure if the behavior of
this employee was unique or simply a continuation of a pattern of ineffective
customer interface. Either way, it is the boss who is paid for making the
decision to retain or release an employee.
Precipitous and callous removal of employees (for
whatever reasons) will send a signal to other workers
and communicate the values and the culture of the organization.
Supporting employees through external challenges (sometimes
by disgruntled customers) sends a different signal.
Both ways there are consequences; and you will know
soon (if you do not now already) whether your boss
is a Pretender, a Manager or a genuine Leader. Please
review the comparison provided below and make up your
own mind on the qualities of leadership being exhibited
by the supervisor. http://www.brachercenter.com/article_succession.html
|People Love Leaders.
||People Respect Managers.
||People Reject Pretenders.
|A Leader Creates.
||A Manager Interprets.
||A Pretender Copies.
|A Leader Gives Credit.
||A Manager Gives Clarification.
||A Pretender Gives Blame.
|A Leader Incites Motivation.
||A Manager Incites Desire.
||A Pretender Incites Fear.
|A Leader Values Relationships.
||A Manager Values People.
||A Pretender Values Procedures.
|A Leader Expects Innovation.
||A Manager Expects Quality.
||A Pretender Expects Conformity.
|A Leader Prefers Judgement.
||A Manager Prefers Decision-Making.
||A Pretender Prefers Rules.
|A Leader Expands Liberty.
||A Manager Expands Courage.
||A Pretender Expands Power.
|A Leader Employs Talent.
||A Manager Employs Individuals.
||A Pretender Employs Objects.
|A Leader Welcomes Criticism.
||A Manager Welcomes Feedback.
||A Pretender Welcomes Praise.
|A Leader Promotes Others.
||A Manager Promotes The Team.
||A Pretender Promotes Self.
|A Leader Makes Mistakes.
||A Manager Makes Adjustments.
||A Pretender Makes Excuses.
|A Leader Sees Opportunities.
||A Manager Solves Problems.
||A Pretender Sees Problems.
|A Leader Self-Corrects.
||A Manager Improves The Organization.
||A Pretender Corrects Others.
|A Leader Acquires Wisdom.
||A Manager Acquires Intelligence.
||A Pretender Acquires Knowledge.
|A Leader Develops Culture.
||A Manager Develops Pride.
||A Pretender Develops Ego.
|A Leader Wants Responsibility.
||A Manager Wants Accountability.
||A Pretender Wants Rights.
|A Leader Seeks A Mission.
||A Manager Seeks A Job.
||A Pretender Seeks A Position.
|A Leader Sees Through Mirrors.
||A Manager Holds Up The Mirror.
||A Pretender Sees Own Image.
|A Leader Has Faults.
||A Manager Seeks To Grow.
||A Pretender Is Perfect.
|You Make Yourself A Leader.
||Managers Assume Responsibility.
|Leading Is Demanding.
||Managing Is Challenging.
Pretending Is Easy.
|Leaders Are Trusted.
||Managers Are Valued.
||Pretenders Are Tolerated.
Now that you have "assessed" your
leader, you can more constructively proceed with your
work and determine how long you wish to be associated
with the values exhibited by the person or the persons
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on September 22, 2004
"CBS News fails its responsibility
and the 'real news' test"
CBS has finally admitted to "being duped" and
has said it was wrong to air the 60 minutes episode
accusing President George W. Bush of receiving special
treatment in the Texas Air National Guard. Yet, neither
CBS nor Dan Rather have apologized or admitted to any
wrong doing, which shows no integrity whatsoever. I
am disappointed and disgusted with CBS and specifically
Dan Rather for what appears to be a lack of moral and
Are there no consequences for this reprehensible
behavior? News is to inform and educate us.
With out trust in the integrity in the news, how
can our society survive?
Do not lose heart; the jury is still out on this recent chaos created by Dan
Rather, CBS and 60 Minutes. Our system will know what is right and apply sound principles to abuses
of power by any segment of the media, including television broadcasting.
We expect and deserve proper
news coverage and we want it available, all the time.
Journalist-historian Richard Reeves was asked by a
college student to define "real news" and
he answered that real news is "the news
you and I need to keep our freedoms."
As readers, hearers and viewers of the current reporting
of the news, what portion of what is
presented to the public is essential for the retention of our freedoms? What
entertainment, posing as news? What amount is editorial and biased opinion,
under the banner of "news" that is "fair and balanced" information?
These questions are meant
to move individuals to think hard and long about the current state of the news
we all absorb.
There are challenges to
remaining informed, intelligently and objectively,
in our era. Perhaps
things today are no different than in the past, however, the power of the press,
print and electronic can make things seem worse.
One of the mysteries of a democracy and a free press
is that they can exist, often at odds, without seeking
the destruction of the other. The integrity of our
system (economic, political and cultural) depends
upon our ability, and freedom, to disagree without
being disagreeable. Even when we are rascals, we
do not need to stoop to a zero-sum game, scorching
the earth as we offer differences of opinion. Debate
and discussion, conflict and resolution, all can
be conducted in the bright light of openness and
honesty. When the common good is relegated to anyplace
on the agenda, except that of first place, then any
number of activities can sink the democratic "ship of state." News
must be objectively reported. Editorials are the place for personal opinions.
In our book, Integrity Matters, we quote a CBS broadcast veteran, Mr. Walter Cronkite, on page 174: "We
can all take the hero's journey. It begins with
a single step, the moment we stand up for something
we believe in." Earlier we stated, on page 92: "In
the early days of television journalism, news professionals
such as David 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."
Real news reporting is always about integrity, intelligence
and courage. Integrity provides the platform for truth
seeking. Intelligence builds the road to insightful,
accurate and thorough research. And courage is a timeless
quality and becomes all the more important when the
government or any other institution of power and control
is tempted to suggest the legitimacy of censorship.
Mr. Rather, CBS and 60 Minutes, instead of reporting
the news that we need in order to keep our freedoms
have themselves become the news. How sad for them.
Demand the "real news" -- the news you and
I need to keep our freedoms. Demand that our televised
news media make clear their choice of responsible journalism
in preference to salacious entertainment. "Real
news" is important, always has been, and it always
will be. Integrity matters.
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on July 20, 2005
"Don't forget the binding verbal handshake"
After many interviews, a boss decides to hire "person
A" AND verbally promises the job. Soon afterwards, "person
B" appears and turns out to be many times more
qualified than "person A." Should the manager
keep the verbal promise to person A or hire person
An offer can be binding. In some circumstances (please consult legal advice)
a verbal commitment is a contract. Morally, the deal is the deal. The hiring
person may have promised to hire what turned out to be the less qualified
person; however, the second person (more qualified) may also deserve the
position. So, the person doing the hiring must wrestle what is the right
thing to do for the individuals being impacted, the company that could be
compensating each participant and the long-term impact of behaving precipitously,
regardless of how this complicated situation is resolved.
To make this point of the verbal commitment, allow
me to present a summary of some research that our organization
completed with leaders in the Salinas Valley Agribusiness
community. Here is how they speak of word-of-mouth
agreements, which they describe as a "verbal
handshake." What follows are excerpts from a
story originally published by Scott Faust, Executive
Editor, The Salinas Californian on August 6, 2003,
titled:. Ag execs agree on ethics principles - Salinas
Valley effort underscores values
A six-month effort to identify core values of Salinas
Valley agriculture has yielded a set of principles
that organizers say could foster a nationwide renewal
of business ethics. Salinas Valley agricultural executives
heralded the moral legacy of those who established
the local produce industry in the 1920s and '30s.
Today, the multibillion-dollar sector -- led by many
of their descendants -- directly or indirectly employs
more than 30 percent of Monterey County's workforce.
One concept emphasized throughout an agreed-upon document
is that of a "verbal handshake" -- the mutual
trust that permits quick transactions under the deadlines
of a perishable commodity. Also emphasized is the idea
of giving back to the community, which participants
say is still reflected in the civic generosity of many
ag companies in such causes as Relay for Life, the
annual fund-raiser for cancer research.
"Sowing the seeds for the renewal of free markets
is the essence of what drove me to it," said Bracher,
who first approached Mills with the concept in January. "The
more we discover about it (Salinas Valley agribusiness),
the more we believe this is the legitimate home for
the renewal of free enterprise."
One of the eight key values of the
Salinas Valley Agribusiness Integrity-Centered Leadership
Program is character, and its definition was adopted...by
a committee of 16 leaders of valley agricultural companies.
Character means: "Business is transacted with
a phone call or a handshake, and even though much of
agribusiness today involves contracts, it is clear
that contracts are formalities..." One's
handshake" is the real deal. So, what should
an integrity-centered leader, with character, do?