Integrity Matters
February 5, 2003

Ask questions of company leadership

Question: (E-022) I manage a local retail store that is part of a large regional chain. I report to a Regional Vice-President, but have no direct contact with corporate headquarters in the Midwest. I like my job. However, in the wake of all of the recent stories about corporate corruption and greed on the parts of company executives, I would like to assure myself that those people steering my ship are really interested in the passengers.

Is there some simple way to evaluate the integrity of the president and the senior staff of my company?

Response: Dear Concerned Local Manager:

Yes, there is a very simple way to evaluate the integrity of your company's leadership. You determine the integrity of leaders by asking the right questions and not tolerating the wrong answers.

Here are nine of the right questions:

  1. Is it generally understood by employees that they are expected to do the right thing? Is it in the atmosphere of your culture to do the "right thing?"
  2. Is your company involved in local (outreach) activities?
  3. Is information about the financial health of your company readily available?
  4. Do meetings almost always start and end on time so that participants can fulfill commitments to others and not be forced to "cascade" time-insensitivity?
  5. Do your customers know that you have the authority to "make things right" for them when mistakes happen?
  6. When anyone in your company (including senior executives) under-performs repeatedly, are they given due process and then, if necessary, replaced?
  7. Does your company pride itself on paying its suppliers in timely ways?
  8. Do you have confidence that your president would never direct those who report to him to "fudge" numbers under any circumstances? (You will know the answer to this question by the ways in which your boss directs you to report your sales and profits, every month, every quarter and every year.
  9. Do the individuals who lead your company exhibit "congruence between what they say and what they do, as well as what they say about what they did"?

If leaders are not consistent and predictable in the execution of their duties to the point that you can generally predict what they will do and how they will go about doing their work, then some portion of the organization's values, if not most of the values, are being violated. Such inconsistency can be death to integrity.

Now that you have read these nine questions, it is unlikely that you need an answer sheet. If you are not satisfied with your answers to several, if not all, of the questions listed above, there could be integrity issues at your company.

Hopefully you believe, as I do, that: "Integrity is the keystone of leadership. It is reflected in discussions, decisions, directives and diagnostics. Leadership emerges from listening, exhibits character in behavior, and leverages energy with integrity. Integrity is the stabilizing factor that sustains effort and causes energy to create the canopy for accomplishment. Integrity enables the achievement of Vision."

If we are in agreement about how important ethical behavior is in leadership, then, you know that the actions of every member of your company, from front line employees to the executive team, confirm or deny INTEGRITY.

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 The center's Web site is

"Coupon" published February 5 with the Integrity Matters column


<< back to Integrity Matters main page

Home Page | About Us | Ask Bracher | Services | Resources | Contact Us

©Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership. All Rights Reserved.
1400 Munras Avenue ~ Monterey, California 93940