“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army or in an office.”
Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces and 34th US President
This the fourth and final blog in a series regarding the four pillars for organizational success: Capital, Customers, People and now Leadership. Please remember all of these pillars are necessary to build your organizational foundation for success. None is more or less important than the other.
Organizations with a strong legacy of success have great leadership throughout the organization. Senior leadership is constantly training and mentoring new leaders to provide strength, depth and a smooth transition from one leader to the next. These organizations provide new leadership opportunities because the organization grows and it knows great leaders need different real life experiences to improve their skills.
Organizations with a legacy of success know how important it is to have leaders with unquestionable integrity. Leaders who lead by example. Leaders who truly care about the success of all the people within the organization, the success of the customers the organization serves and the success of the shareholders who provide the capital for the organization. Leaders who can be depended upon to uphold the values of the organization through success and storms by exemplifying self discipline and providing proper oversight thus ensuring accountability at all levels. Leaders who recognize – it may take decades to build trust but this trust and the resulting respect can be lost in an instant. It is easy for the train to get off the track, only strong, competent, caring leaders with unquestionable integrity can guide an organization to success over a long period of time.
As I write this blog, we are all witnessing what happens when integrity goes missing. A very large financial institution in the United States has been fined almost $200MM, has lost billions of $$ in shareholder value and is now facing more federal investigations because it opened fake accounts. It was plain and simple fraud. Over Five Thousand people have been let go. Some say this is just the tip of the iceberg. At this point, leadership still clings to its multi-million dollar bonuses although there are clawback provisions that were instituted years ago. Leadership points the finger at those thousands who were fired referring to them as just poor performers. A once powerhouse for sales and growth in its industry now tells the public it will fix the problem with training and dropping all sales goals, as if those darn goals were the problem.
A few questions have to be asked by the board of directors, shareholders and regulators. Who hired the people who hired the people who were poor performers? Who put those darn sales goals in place? Who did not provide the proper training in the first place? Who did not ensure proper accountability was in place throughout the organization, allowing TWO MILLION bogus accounts to be opened and FIVE THOUSAND employees (that’s more people than most small cities have in their census) to go astray? Let’s just stop and think about this for a minute. Over 5000 free thinking and free will individuals independently opened 2,000,000 fake accounts. Can anyone believe that did not go on without a few winks and nods from leadership at some level? Does the leadership have its finger on what the root cause of all of this is? (Hint: It is not those darn goals.)
The root cause of all of this was not a faulty product or those darn goals that are just magically being eliminated. Here’s the real root cause…. the lack of unquestionable integrity. It may have been going on for years. As with many organizations that damage or lose their corporate souls, it does not happen overnight. It festers for years but eventually, the train comes off the track and wrecks. Shareholders are damaged, employees are damaged and customers are damaged and, unfortunately, the legacy of the organization is damaged. Typically, the larger the organization, the longer it takes to raise its ugly head. It is easier to hide, ignore or tolerate as long as the organization as a whole can meet its goals. Leadership makes huge bonuses and turns a blind eye. Shareholders like seeing their stock value increase. Growth at all cost (even giving up integrity) is not a long term strategy for success but rather a sign of trouble to come.
Usually, the answer only becomes clear when the damage is being witnessed and calculated. The board of directors and shareholders finally wake up and realize leadership or, the lack of it, was the cause of all of this. When this finally happens, leadership is changed and hopefully the corporate soul begins to be nurtured back to life. Sadly, there is carnage everywhere. The larger the organization…. the longer it will take to rehabilitate because the lack of integrity is like a cancer that spreads to all levels. It may take many years to heal the corporate soul. If the organization cannot root out the cause; mergers, sales of units and or liquidation of assets occur and the corporate soul dies. Capital is destroyed. Careers are negatively impacted.
Organizations that succeed over long periods of time and continue to succeed know it takes: Capital, Customers, People and Leadership. These things form the four pillars for a foundation of an organization’s success. The synergy, the wind in the sails, the source of a strong culture comes from deep within its corporate soul and it is constantly being nurtured by leadership with unquestionable integrity.
I hope you have enjoyed this series on the Four Pillars for Organizational Success…..Until next time. Peace! 🙂