“If you're looking for a manager, find somebody that’s intelligent, energetic, and has integrity...if they don’t have the last, be sure they don’t have the first two. If you have somebody who lacks integrity, you want them to be dumb and lazy.”
Let’s get firm on this point: all leaders should understand the importance of integrity.
It’s why my friend John G. Blumberg has just celebrated the release of his newest book, ROI - Return on Integrity. Simply put, John is starting a movement to redefine what first comes to mind when top leaders think of ROI. He is a companion to leaders at the top, who want to pick-up a shovel and start digging to discover their most untapped and impactful resource as a leader.
While living in Pittsburgh in the 90s, a friend suggested I connect with John when I moved to Chicago. John had been a senior human resources leader at Arthur Andersen but had left to pursue his dream of professional public speaking. He’s been at it ever since.
I did not initiate that connection. Frankly, I made a wrong assumption. I convinced myself that John was likely too busy to make time for me. Within a couple of years, another mutual friend made the introduction. John is a remarkably easy to know and likable human being who takes time for others. A great friend.
I’ve asked John some questions about his new book, ROI - Return on Integrity. Here is our conversation.
Q: John, I know integrity ranks high in your message of “core values.” Explain how you define integrity to leaders.
A: Many people are surprised when I say that “integrity” is not a core value – especially when it appears on the list of core values of many organizations. I define integrity as the fabric of every core value. Long ago, leadership author Warren Bennis described integrity as “doing what you say you will do.” In that sense it makes for quite a durable fabric if stated values are to become truly valuable.
Q: Your latest book, ROI, is a focus on integrity. Why does this seem to need such extensive treatment?
A: I was just talking to a reader this week, he said he thought he pretty much understood the topic of core values. Like most of us, he made an assumption. As he continued to read, he said it opened his eyes to a completely deeper understanding. Considering yourself “values-based” or having a “gut-feel” or “intuition” about your values probably would have worked 30 years ago. Today’s world of rapid speed and pace of change, calls for a much deeper understanding and clarity of your core values … both organizationally and individually.
Q: Several polls indicate terrible trust levels of politicians today. And big business often gets criticized for careless acts. Connect the dots on how integrity shapes our views.
A: We have certainly seen examples in every arena of life – government, corporations, sports, spiritual institutions and families. In almost every case you can find evidence of a drift. We need to be clear – all of us are vulnerable to drifting. There is a huge temptation to look out at greater society or leaders at the top of an organization and expend energy into our critique of such … yet, it’s far more valuable to take that same energy to dig deeper into our own experience of defining, refining, and living our own core values. It will definitely shape your views … and our compassion for others when they fail.
Q: What does a loss of integrity cost a leader or an enterprise?
A: Sometimes everything! Usually there is a lot of waste before getting to the point of it costing you everything. Without a day-to-day return on integrity, there is no long term return on investment. It’s an individual and organization’s most important asset. It is easy to lose integrity when you have never identified the core values that define it. It’s a devastating price for a leader to pay … and the shrapnel impact most often places a huge cost on the innocent people around them.
Q: I shared the article with you about the quote from Warren Buffett on integrity. Does he sum up the importance of this issue well?
A: I especially liked his comment “if you have someone who lacks integrity you want them to be dumb and lazy.” I would actually want them to begin to dig deep to find the values at their core. It is there that they will rediscover the integrity within and the desire to live it. It is a journey we all need to make to a much deeper level. I personally think we could all be a little smarter and work a little harder in understanding the value of core values … and the return they provide!
Proverbs 11:3 tells it like it is, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” NIV
Find ROI on Amazon or connect with John at www.BlumbergROI.com. Look for John’s other books as well.
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Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to www.1160hope.com for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.