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Alicia Blain

Integrity


Did you know that in Britain, this week is called National Thank You Week?  Well it’s true and I had no idea.  That’s why I love Nancy Lublin’s  “Do Something” column in Fast Company.  There’s always some tidbit that I learn. In November her column was titled  “Two Little Words“.  In it she reminds us how we so often forget to say thank you.  As we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US and the British  have National Thank You week,  I wonder how many times this week we will stop to say thank you or be thankful for all we have?

We are often so quick to see the shortcomings in others and to see our life as half empty that it really keeps us from seeing all the abundance we have around us whether it’s in the people we work with or in the life we have.  As leaders we often forget how important those in the trenches are to our success.  Without them, we couldn’t do what we do.  Yet, how many times have you taken  a few minutes to talk to them or ask them how they’re doing.  Many times, we justify not doing it by saying that these folks report into our direct reports and that our direct reports are taking care of that?  My response to that is:  So?  Even though that is the case, there’s no reason why, you as the head of your team, can’t do the same.  Imagine what a treat that would be to those staff members?

Nancy Lublin talks about thanking the “little people” which she defines as the FedEx guy, the people that clean your offices, the mailroom people.  It’s the people that are almost invisible to you on a day to day but whose absence you would feel given the things they do for you.  Everyone we interact with contributes in some small way to our getting through our day everyday and yet we often don’t give them a second thought.

Well, let’s give them a second thought today.  As we get ready to spend tomorrow with our friends & family, let’s not forget that Thanksgiving ISN’T just about turkey & football but in fact, it’s a day to spend quality time with our family.  It’s a day not only to enjoy our friends & family but to be thankful we have them, warts and all.  But that’s tomorrow.  Today, make time to say thank you to your corporate family, especially those in the trenches and the invisible people who do so much & allow us to concentrate on what we do best.

Like Nancy says, it’s just 2 words but they carry such a powerful, positive punch when it’s heartfelt.

So from me to you, I want to thank you all and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving !

I was listening to an interesting interview with Mary Gentile, Director of Business Curriculum at Babson College. The video appeared in this month’s McKinsey Quarterly and Lily Cunningham conducted the interview. Here’s the link if you want to see the video.  I recommend that you watch it. 

At the start of the interview, Mary shares a touching story about a ”crisis of faith”  she had about 10 years ago that left her wondering whether it was “ethical to teach business ethics”.  It does almost sound like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Anyone who has worked in a corporate setting can clearly understand why it would be almost hypocritical to teach business ethics when it was often so difficult to put it into practice in the real world.

Well Mary settled her “crisis of faith” by interviewing some MBA candidates entering Columbia University when she was finishing a consulting project for them.  Columbia asked the MBA entrants to write an essay about a time when they experienced a values conflict and how they’d handle it. Mary decided to interview the very few that had actually been successful in voicing their values. She wrote a book and a curriculum around her findings called “Giving Voice to Values“.

The video is short and the insights are interesting and a bit surprising. It’s worth the listen and I plan to pick up the book.  At a time where there is so little trust in the corporate leadership, it’s nice to know that a few people, both in the trenches and in the C-Suite, managed to do the right thing against what must have been very difficult odds.   Instead of transferring to another department, going along with the bad behavior or just quitting, these brave people stood up and had their values counted. 

We need more stories like these to inspire and uplift us. 

What about you?  Do you voice your values in the workplace?

Experts believe that Brian Davis paid well over 1 million dollars for his recent behavior on the golf course.  Many of you are probably thinking that Brian Davis did something bad, right?  The media is constantly inundating us with all the bad things that sports figures and celebrities do that this question automatically makes us think negatively.  But not in this case.

Here’s the deal:  Brian Davis is a 36 year old British Generation Xer who recently played in the PGA Tour at the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head, S.C. Now I know what you’re all thinking:  I keep saying I don’t like sports but I keep bringing up examples of things that happen in the sports world.  Am I secretly a sports fan?  Truly, I am not but it just happens that really cool things are happening with sports figures that I think are worth highlighting. 

So Brian Davis is hitting onto the green in a sudden-death playoff  and apparently his golf club hits a reed when he does his backswing.  Well, as I’m sure all golfers know and I did not, a reed is considered a loose impediment and moving a loose impediment is apparently a big NO-NO in golf.   It came as a shock to me that there actually is a PGA rule that prohibits moving a loose impediment!  So instead of keeping quiet and seeing if the tournament director catches the mistake, Brian calls a penalty on himself.  Yes, he actually highlighted the mistake and requested that the two stroke penalty be applied to his game.  This decision automatically put him in second place giving the win to his opponent, Jim Furyk.

Is that not an unbelievable and refreshing story?  I was reading about this in my hard copy version of September’s edition of Success Magazine.  As I am writing this post, the online version of the September issue is not yet available but here’s the link to Success Magazine.  I’m sure the September issue will go online shortly and you can read it.  The name of the article is “The Most Important Golf Story of the Year (That you Likely Never Heard About).  The reporter’s name is Don Yaeger.

The article goes on to explain that interviewers and golf experts told Brian Davis that his act of integrity cost him over $1 million dollars in pay and sponsorship opportunities. Brian’s answer: “I just saw it as doing what I was supposed to do”

Here are the 2 things I love most about this story.  The first is that Brian was inundated with emails, texts and letters that thanked him for this wonderful act of integrity.  Imagine how many people became his fans and admirers by his decision to lose instead of compromising his principles.  I don’t even know who he is and I’m a big fan now!  The second thing I like is more related to leadership. It has to do with the notion of leading by example which I think is a forgotten leadership trait these days.   In the article, Brian talks about how he promised his son that he would buy a puppy as soon as he won a tournament.  So technically, even though he won the tournament, he didn’t officially win it.  Brian felt it was more important for his son to know that You have to do the right thing, even it if looks like it costs you.  I wanted him to know I finished second, but can hold my head high”.   What a great example of doing what is right regardless of consequences.

Oh and by the way,  Brian did not get the puppy because as he said in the article ” I wouldn’t be a good dad if I just got the dog anyway”.  Here is a Generation Xer not just telling us but actually showing us how to do the right thing.  I can already hear people disagreeing with me saying that Brian’s actions are more representative of his personal convictions than of his generation. You can certainly look at it that way and you would be right.  But, when highlighting people in my blogs, I always try to connect the person with his or her generation. This helps maximize and showcase the positive traits of the person’s generation wherever possible.  Too often, generational discussions center around negative impressions when  it’s more productive and useful to bring out the positive.   As a member of Gen X,  the generation that is often forgotten and overshadowed by Baby Boomers and Millennials, Brian shows the rest of us what it’s like to be a true leader living and leading proudly with integrity and respect. Kudos to Gen Xers like Brian Davis!  

What about you?  Does your integrity have a price?