Class is Now in SessionBy Kim Phelan
Article Date: 08-01-2008
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
It's hard enough walking the talk - now try finding others who do the same.
I suppose people conjure different pictures when they hear the word ‘class.’ For example, a few years ago I was lamenting about the absence of class in someone who held a position of high leadership but who exhibited less than exemplary leadership strengths. In response, a colleague quickly agreed with my assessment, and said, “Yeah, he ordered crab legs for dinner one night and had no idea what to do with it.”Well, actually, my definition of class has nothing whatsoever to do with food, unless the person in question starts flinging it. Rather, I prefer to look at class as synonymous with integrity – when I see someone who’s classy, I see a person of high moral character, possessing character traits of honesty, modesty, transparency, and consistency. For this reason I took an immediate liking to Dana Telford.I don’t know him personally, but about six months ago I read his book, “The Integrity Advantage,” in which he and co-author Adrian Gostick identify 10 Integrity Characteristics based on in-depth interviews they conducted with several CEOs from well-known corporations in the U.S. and Canada. With so many sad examples of corruption and seedy behavior in the world, it was downright refreshing to hear the authors assert that “integrity is alive and well in the most successful people and long-lasting corporations.”The titles of some of my favorite chapters in this primer for executive integrity include: “You Mess Up, You ’Fess Up,” “You’re Honest But Modest,” and “You Act Like You’re Being Watched.” At times it was like reading my own mottos – or at least the standards to which I hope to aspire. And I strongly suspect many AED dealer owners would see themselves, their principles and values in Telford’s book, which even outlines an action plan to self-evaluate and realign with the moral compass if necessary.Integrity Characteristic No. 9 is the one with greatest potential to trickle outside the boundary of an individual’s own control, however. It’s called: “You Hire Integrity.” Telford records an account of Warren Buffet’s response to a young MBA graduate who, following Buffet’s address to a graduating class of Harvard Business School, asked him, “How do you make hiring decisions?” His reply: “I look for three things. The first is personal integrity, the second is intelligence, and the third is a high energy level. But,” he said drawing closer to the microphone and his attentive audience, “if you don’t have the first, the second two don’t matter.”Do you rank personal integrity among the highest sought traits when conducting management hires? And does that bar stay at chin level as they, in turn, make their departmental hires for your company? And if so, there’s one thing that puzzles me: If there’s so much integrity swimming around our companies, how is it that CPA and dealer auditor Rex Collins has so much to say on the subject of internal dealer theft and fraud that it became a two-part series beginning in this issue? Truth be told, I was shocked to read anecdote after appalling anecdote in which equipment dealer employees have been caught ripping off their employers. Collins, who presents again at AED’s CFO Conference in September, says the problem is indeed rampant. Just some food for thought (or flinging) as you thumb through the issue. And here’s one more nugget to chew on: International family business adviser Dana Telford will give an AED-exclusive presentation at the Executive Forum on Sept. 11, addressing the delicate subject of ethics and protecting yourself in cross-cultural business relationships. Hope to see you there. (Please reserve your seat early –it’s fast and easy at www.aednet.org/execforum)And thanks for reading.
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