December 26, 2002
such as Lott owe their followers integrity
Trent Lott has apologized for his implied segregationist
view. Many wont forgive him. Others insisted he
should stay in power. Some Black Leaders were inclined
to give him the benefit of the doubt. Still, the Republican
political agenda was at risk. The stature of the Republican
Party was at risk. In your view, what should be done
to restore the integrity of the Party?
Response: The Trent Lott furor was created by a lack
of accountability. The public conduct of those who are
in leadership roles is subject to examination for consistency
between and among actions, words, and responsibilities.
When individuals in leadership positions exhibit behaviors
that expose their flaws, they have undermined their leadership
authority. In the business world, responsible boards of
directors remove those executives. To retain them would
expose the organization to unnecessary financial risk.
Should we expect anything less from our elected officials?
between words and deeds are human, quickly understood,
and often forgiven with an apology. However, fundamental
deficiencies raise serious questions. Can such individuals
be trusted with responsibilitywhether in spiritual
life, business, or government? Leaders recognize when
they have broken a trust, and take immediate steps to
correct the problem. First, they acknowledge their mistakes.
Second, they take corrective measures immediately. Finally,
if leaders lose their followers as a result, the work
for which they were responsible may be compromised, and
they step down graciously.
step down out of respect to their followers and colleagues,
and devote on-going efforts to repair the effects of their
errors. Leaders mentor associates to help them avoid similar
a consequence, regardless of the profession, leaders owe
their followers integrity - so that society can be sustained
by a balance between self-interest and social responsibility.
It is not only what you have done to get into trouble,
but also what you do to get out of trouble that counts.
There are consequences for mistakes
even for the
JIM BRACHER is founder of the Bracher
Center for Integrity in Leadership in Monterey. His column,
"Integrity Matters," appears Wednesday on the
Business page. Readers are invited to submit questions
on business-related ethics and values. Please write in
care of INTEGRITY to firstname.lastname@example.org. The
center's Web site is www.brachercenter.com.
back to Integrity Matters