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Dr. Curtis L. Odom


What Happened to Integrity Among Leaders?

Posted: 02/07/2013 5:29 pm

As a result of the recent presidential campaign season, I became a big supporter of Politifact. I would check the site regularly because it felt like half of what was being said by both parties was either a blatant lie or it was a twisted accusation of the other party or candidate. I did not like it, but it is what American politics has become. Sadly, it has always been this way in some form or another, but now we are so inundated with information that it was hard not to notice it. And it was a real shame. In my opinion, political elections are supposed to be about core values. And when I think about core values, the first value that comes to my mind is integrity. It matters, and most importantly it matters in leadership.

Unfortunately, we have created a system bent on sound bites and quick hitting verbal assaults. We like the one-liner and a good zinger. But as leaders, this is not realistic. It does not provide context and it does not enable people to understand the whole story, the full account of what has happened or of what has been said. The details are critical elements to any story (and this is coming from someone who prefers the big picture view) we need to be able to speak truth in our politics, our boardrooms and our offices. We need people to stand up for integrity. Without it, there is no trust, and without trust there is no real communication.

Beyond the political realm, take a look at what has recently happened in the Citigroup Boardroom recently with Vikram Pandit. A day after announcing corporate earnings, the CEO abruptly resigned. Millions of dollars of investment decisions were just made the day before based on the implied trust that Pandit would continue to lead the company and build for a better future. It did not happen. He bailed. But why? Early indications are a lack of trust from within the boardroom. They had seen enough of Pandit, which is their prerogative, but it brings to question their integrity when both parties knowingly go into the earnings call and act as if nothing is happening. Investors depend on reliable and accurate information to make decisions, and this impacts too many people.

Leaders need to step up and act with integrity when so much is on the line -- politically or financially, because integrity matters.

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  • Dr. Evil and Lloyd Blankfein

    Dr. Evil from <em>Austin Powers</em>, played by Mike Meyers, and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

  • Alistair Hennessey and Vikram Pandit

    Alistair Hennessey from <em>The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou</em>, played by Jeff Goldblum, and former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit.

  • Emperor Palpatine and Rupert Murdoch

    Emperor Palpatine from <em>Star Wars</em>, played by Ian McDiarmid, and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch.

  • Nurse Ratched and Meg Whitman

    Nurse Ratched from <em>One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest</em>, played by Louise Fletcher, and Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman.

  • Ashley Schaeffer and Richard Branson

    Ashley Schaeffer from HBO's <em>Eastbound and Down</em>, played by Will Ferrell, and Virgin CEO Richard Branson.

  • Lex Luther and Jeff Bezos

    Lex Luthor from <em>Superman Returns</em>, played by Kevin Spacey, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

  • Regina George and Marissa Mayer

    Regina George from <em>Mean Girls</em>, played by Rachel McAdams, and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

  • White Witch and Abigail Johnson

    The White Witch from <em>The Chronicles of Narnia</em>, played by Tilda Swinton, and Fidelity Investments CEO Abigail Johnson.

  • Ty Moncrief and Mike Jeffries

    Ty Moncrief from <em>Drop Zone</em>, played by Gary Busey, and Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries.

  • Emperor Commodus and Larry Page

    Emperor Commodus from <em>Gladiator</em>, played by Joaquin Phoenix, and Google CEO Larry Page.

  • Goldfinger and Jeff Immelt

    James Bond villain Goldfinger from <em>Goldfinger</em>, played by Gert Fröbe, and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt.

  • Daniel Plainview and Reed Hastings

    Daniel Plainview from <em>There Will Be Blood</em>, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

  • Boris Badenov and Carlos Slim

    Boris Badenov from <em>Rocky and Bulwinkle</em>, voiced by Paul Frees for much of the show's run, and Telmex CEO Carlos Slim.

  • Stuntman Mike and Brian Moynihan

    Stuntman Mike from <em>Deathproof</em>, played by Kurt Russell, and Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan.

  • Count Rugen and Larry Ellison

    Count Rugen from <em>The Princess Bride</em>, played by Christopher Guest, and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

  • The Boss and Kenneth Chennault

    The Boss from <em>Lucky Number Slevin</em>, played by Morgan Freeman, and American Express CEO Kenneth Chennault

  • Henry Evans and Mark Zuckerberg

    Henry Evans from <em>The Good Son</em>, played by Macaulay Culkin, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • The Donald and Donald Trump

    Chairman of the Trump Organization Donald Trump and Donald Trump from <em>The Apprentice</em>.


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