By Ian Hope
Toronto, Ontario — October 9, 2013 – I am always disappointed when I hear of the misdeeds of our elected officials and federal senators. I can add to this the misappropriate conduct and indulgences of other senior officials in government and our public institutions that are commonly reported in the media.
We have officials who seem to think it their God-given right to pay all of their personal and household expenses from the public purse. Sadly, this occurs at not only the federal level but at provincial and municipal levels as well.
The best definition of integrity Iâ€™ve ever heard is this: doing the right thing when nobody is watching. Seems pretty basic, but itâ€™s surprising how often people given power and authority in our government fail this test. Iâ€™m sure this occurs in private industry as well.
When I worked for government a few years ago, I found myself in a position where a new boss was pressuring me to put through bogus journal entries to reclassify expenses from one account that he had overspent and mismanaged, to another. Authorizing the entries would have been an unethical act for a professionally qualified accountant, not to mention illegal. I was the senior financial officer in that department, and when I refused to do as my boss directed I was banished to a minor training role in a remote part of the department, losing my responsibility for almost one hundred staff and completely submerged in the corporate bone pile.
I had retained my integrity, but at a great cost. I would never land a professional accounting job again. Undeterred, I resolved that keeping my integrity in tact was worth any cost or setback that I might suffer for taking the moral high road. Thirteen years later I feel no different. The career roller coaster I jumped on delivered me to the door of my truest calling and where I would find within myself deep passion for sharing insights with others and promoting the development of great leadership and customer service skill.
Several years after my exile from my previous finance role, my corrupt boss was walked to the door by the Deputy Minister and given an abrupt and unceremonious departure from what until then had been a very lucrative career in the public service.
I found myself truly motivated by what had happened to me. I realized that without Lex Luthor, Superman wouldnâ€™t have really been that super. Having had the experience of such a negative, self-serving and manipulative boss, completely devoid of any small measure of integrity, I became strongly motivated to help the world by building stronger and more positive leaders. I especially wanted to develop leaders who reflect great qualities as human beings. The greatest of these qualities which I target continues to be simply doing the right thing, in all circumstances and whether someone happens to be looking or not.
Bosses that truly have integrity provide powerful role models to other members of their organizations. Simply by being honest and trustworthy and consistently doing the right thing, they impart valuable lessons about how to behave and act. When they make a hiring decision, they hire the best candidate not simply their nephew or the one theyâ€™ve been most friendly with. When they make a spending decision it is not based upon how it benefits them personally, but instead that it will give the employer the biggest bang for the buck. They never indulge or try to enrich themselves inappropriately or unethically through their business decisions. Their eye is clearly on the ball, which for them is their job role, objectives and what is best for the organization itself.
The world cries out for better leaders. Be one of them by doing the right thing at all times and helping others to find that direction in their lives and careers. As always, happy thoughts to you!
Ian Hope is the Executive Director of the Alberta Automotive Recyclers and Dismantlers Association (AARDA) and in addition maintains a professional practice training others on highly valued people skills. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.