Integrity Matters
December 25, 2003

Financial leaders should ask these questions

Question: (E-043)

Dear Jim:

I have read with interest your opinion on what eight "integrity-centered" questions to ask business leaders to determine the integrity level of their companies.

My assumption is that our current business culture is simply a reflection of society in general and of the times in which we live. Is there anything we can do to make a difference?


Individuals can have an impact. But individual actions are required to create change.
First, you may want to answer these questions. The assumption made is that you can address each of these areas of concern with a gracious response, even though the position you choose to take may be quite strong.

  • When did you last write to your congressional representative expressing your concerns?
  • What is your response to sloppy service or behavior in a restaurant? A hotel? On public transportation? From a professional educator? A religious leader? Celebrities? Do you suffer in silence or communicate disappointment appropriately?
  • Do you practice courtesy even when confronted with rudeness?
  • Will you walk out of a movie theatre or any performance when offended by the content or behavior?
  • Do you refuse to purchase, where practical, goods and services that sponsor programs and activities that conflict with your values? Including television programming?
  • Is what you profess to believe and value consistent with how you and your close friends behave?
  • Do those who know you best understand and respect your priorities?
  • Do you exhibit understanding and respect for the priorities of those you know best?

Second, assuming that you have addressed the eight questions above, you are now in a position to cause change. Change begins when each of us picks up the mirror and studies the reflection.

What you do speaks louder than words. How you respond is more important than what happened to you. What you allow to ruin your day determines your strength. Where you spend your energies shapes your reputation.

When you choose to take your "stand" generally determines the outcome.

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 10 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.

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