Integrity Matters
June 14, 2006

Balance power and integrity

Question: (E-243)

Dear Jim:

Where can one find individuals who effectively balance power with integrity?


Just about anywhere. In politics, they are called statesmen, (more correctly, today, states-persons) willing to bridge partisan divides and work on behalf of everyone. In business they are icons of leadership, courage and social responsiveness. They seek to do well without leaving scorched earth and dead bodies behind them. They are clear about the mission of their work and are always aware of inevitable conflicts, that when dealt with properly, will not destroy the diverse fabric that is community, local or global.

Power, wealth and fame seem to fall more easily upon gracious human beings. Those who see through the mirrors of narcissism and the parasites who are the "hangers on" - they wear their mantle of authority with ease. These mentors welcome opportunities to assist those who are still striving mightily to make sense of the process itself.

A senior executive, who attended our first MBA Impact: Essentials workshop on May 23, said that to his surprise, way too many folks he encounters are what he called "cows." Cringing when he pronounced the word, I asked what he meant. Immediately, he explained that C.O.W.S. stood for Concerned Only With Self.

You have met these folks. They finish their 20-minute nonstop lecture on everything about themselves, their families and their hobbies. Then they ask you what you think about them, their families and their hobbies. Sitting next to these folks on a long flight is painful. For them, it really is All About Me - or AAM - as was this same executive's description of those who parade around in the name of teams, while really demanding the spotlight and the adulation.

To be counted among those who exude power with integrity:

  • Seek to understand before demanding to be understood.
  • Keep conversations focused on others.
  • Congratulate and encourage verbally, including sending handwritten notes.
  • Communicate confidence in the future, with enthusiasm.
  • Assist those who will likely never be able to repay you.
Power with integrity is predictably gracious. Are you?

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