CareerQuest Newsletter
Integrity and Ethics in Business - Revisited

February 2009
My dear friends, colleagues, clients and students:

Since the year 2000, there seems to be a tsunami of problems in business, pertaining to integrity, ethics and morals.

We need to remind ourselves that there is something more to business life than "Greed is Good!" The theme of this issue of the newsletter is Integrity and Ethics in Business - Revisited. In it you will find several vignettes.
  • Am I True to Myself? - Edgar Guest
  • The Power of Ethical Management - Kenneth Blanchard & Norman Vincent Peale (Excerpts from the book.)
  • The Ethical Executive - Don Seibert (A book summary.)
  • Integrity - Peter Drucker
  • A Good Name - Truett Cathy
  • Soul Food - A World War II Prisoner of War
In our desire to help as many people as we can, we have launched a new program called Career Stimulus Package. In essence, we have cut our fees for all services by 50%. You pay for one counseling hour and get the second hour FREE! This special offer is valid only until March 31, 2009, and may not be repeated again! To get your free hour of counseling, visit our Services page today!

Our book, Career and Life Counseling From the Heart (Your Career is a Pathway to Your Soul!), has received excellent reviews from our readers. Check it out at www.amazon.com.

Until we meet again, through the magic of email, have a pleasant and productive month. Let's never forget, People are More Important than Projects or Things!

Peace! Love! Shalom!

Don Sutaria, MS, IE (Prof.), PE
Founder, President & Life-Work Coach
CareerQuest


Integrity and Ethics in Business - Revisited

PROLOGUE

A great teacher once told me that when you point a finger at someone, if you observe your gesture carefully, you would not fail to notice that three fingers are pointing at you! I have never lost that picture from my mind. That is exactly how I feel, writing this issue of the newsletter with Integrity and Ethics in Business - Revisited, as the theme. I am humbled by it because the true test for complete integrity is very hard and few of us can meet it all the time - certainly not me! I am like one beggar telling another beggar where to look for food. Integrity and ethics are goals, and the struggles to reach them, the journey itself, is just as important.

Integrity is defined as wholeness, soundness, adherence to a code of values (as moral or artistic), utter sincerity, uprightness, honesty and candor.

Ethics, on the other hand, is defined as a discipline dealing with good and evil and with moral duty, and moral principles or practice.

Am I True to Myself? (The Mirror Test)
by Edgar Guest


I have to live with myself, and so
I want to be fit for myself to know,
I want to be able, as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don't want to stand, with the setting sun,
And hate myself for things I have done.
I don't want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself, as I come and go,
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of man I really am;
I don't want to dress up myself in sham.
I want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men's respect;
But here in the struggle for fame and self
I want to be able to like myself.
I don't want to look at myself and know
That I'm bluster and bluff and empty show.
I can never hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself, and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.

The Power of Ethical Management

The three Ethics Check questions are:

1. Is it legal?
The legal question gets you to look at existing standards. Will I be violating civil law or company policy?

2. Is it balanced?
The balance question activates your sense of fairness and rationality. Is it fair to all concerned in the short term as well as the long term? Does it promote win-win relationships?

3. How will it make me feel about myself?
The feelings question is focused on your emotions and your own standards of morality. Will it make me feel proud? Would I feel good if my decision was exposed in the media? Would I feel good if my family knew about it?

The authors, Kenneth Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale, make it clear that...
  • An unethical act will erode self-esteem.
  • Ethical managers are winning managers in the long run.
  • Nice guys appear to finish last, but usually they're running in a different race!
Excerpts from the book, The Power of Ethical Management by Kenneth Blanchard & Norman Vincent Peale. Compiled by Don Sutaria.
There is no right way to do a wrong thing. - Anonymous
The Ethical Executive
by Donald V. Seibert


(The subtitle of this book is, A Top C.E.O.'s Program for Success with Integrity in the Corporate World.)

Note: Seibert was Former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of JC Penney Company, Inc. He passed away on August 28, 2000. He was my coach and mentor for fifteen years, and he is sorely missed.

This gem of a book is divided into fifteen chapters: Is There an Executive Personality?; Do You Have What it Takes to Make It in Business?; The Primary Principle: Defining Your Personal Values; The First-Step Factor: Initial Career Choice and Choosing the Company That's Right for You; Developing a Personal Career Plan; How to Succeed Through Creative Risk-Taking; A Vote for Corporate Conformity; The High-Achiever Image; Nice Guys Can Finish First!; The Promotion Principle: Self-Appraisal, Personal Productivity, Choosing a Mentor; Basic Steps for Decision Making; The Executive Time Crunch; The Top of the Ladder; Your Silent Partners; Sharing Success.

Seibert makes it clear that "If you want to succeed, it's extremely important to settle as soon as possible on some coherent, comprehensive set of personal values."

He goes on to say, "I just tried to do my best from day to day and year to year, without thinking too much about how far I expected to ascend on the many rungs of the corporate ladder that extended above me. I did have goals, but they were specific, short-term objectives that focused on accomplishing the immediate tasks before me."

Don truly believes in "consensus management", a quintessentially Japanese business concept.

The word "willingness" has a special meaning in this book willingness to continue your formal and informal education; willingness to operate at maximum capacity, with minimum compulsion; willingness to be sociable; willingness to compete for first place; willingness to take risks on your own creativity; willingness to be self-confident; willingness to communicate openly with your superiors; willingness to laugh during business hours; willingness to settle on a comprehensive value system.

There are those who believe that ambition in business is the antithesis of a truly mature spiritual commitment or high ethical values. Yet you may be surprised to know that in the survey conducted by the Gallup Poll and the Wall Street Journal, the chief executives in the largest firms most often put "integrity" at the very top of their list as a trait they thought was most important to promotion.

Mr. Seibert considers the spiritual foundations of an executive's life - and the integrity and other character traits associated with a firm set of moral values - to be very important. The chapter on Defining Your Personal Values is the most important one. The five suggested ways are:
  • A personal philosophy of life provides a sense of perspective on what's important in life.
  • A personal philosophy of life helps you establish standards of integrity.
  • A strong world view can be an antidote to worry.
  • A comprehensive philosophy of life can turn you into a positive thinker.
  • Firm personal values enhance your ability to take criticism.
Don states in his book that he tries to read some passages from the Bible every day, primarily because it's the key source of spiritual authority in his life. As a businessperson, he has been particularly impressed with the relevance to his work experience of two books of the Bible, Proverbs and the Gospel of Matthew. Proverbs is replete with references to the proper approach to business transactions, and Matthew has enough practical wisdom to provide a blueprint for almost an entire working experience. He admits that the Bible reading plan is a very personal thing and he is well aware that it may not be appropriate for others.

The last chapter, Sharing Success, is a classic. In Seibert's own words, "The only kind of success that means anything involves achieving a goal and then sharing that achievement with others in some way in terms of both time and money."
The integrity of the upright guides them. - Proverbs 11:3
Peter Drucker on Integrity
"The final requirement of effective leadership is to earn trust. Otherwise there won't be any followers. A leader is someone who has followers. To trust a leader, it is not necessary to agree with him. Trust is the conviction that the leader means what he says. It is a belief in something very old-fashioned called 'integrity'. A leader's actions and a leader's professed beliefs must be congruent or at least compatible. Effective leadership and this is very old wisdom is not based on being clever; it is based primarily on being consistent."

Truett Cathy Founder amd Chairman of Chick-fil-A, Inc.
"I really believe that business people can be honest and successful at the same time. I am always conscious of keeping my name in good order, like it says in Proverbs 22:1, A good name is more desirable than greater riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. I see no conflict between biblical principles and good business practices. They do indeed work together."

Soul Food
I believe in the sun,
even when it is not shining;
I believe in love,
even when I feel it not;
I believe in God,
even when he is silent.

(Written on a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany, by a World War II prisoner of war.)

EPILOGUE

There is no magic bullet for integrity and ethics. A business leader can try to have high personal morals and be a role model for ethics. Easier said than done! It is antithetical to our culture and spirit of our age, filled with materialistic, consumer mentality and greed.

Did you know that Kenneth Lay of Enron and Sam Walton of Wal-Mart, both graduated from the University of Missouri? Look at their divergent career paths. Elizabeth Dole in her commencement address at Duke University, told the graduating class, "In the final analysis, it is your moral compass that counts far more than any bank balance, any resume, and yes, even your diploma."



Don Sutaria, also known a "Career Doctor Don", is Founder and President of CareerQuest. He has been quoted frequently in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, on radio and television and has taught at various colleges. He is the author of Career And Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career is a Pathway to Your Soul!).