I had an occasion to witness something astounding in this past month… a situation where our company was held as a pawn (or hostage) in a business relationship over which we had no control. In an act to obtain a business advantage with an associate common to each of us, this person decided to leverage our company to obtain more from the common associate. While I cannot offer more detail, the sum of the matter is that they split their integrity between business and personal relationships, between direct and indirect associations in an attempt to gain more market share.
In this situation, they literally cut off our services. They would not use us again until they obtained more from the common associate.
Never mind that our field representatives would suffer. Never mind that our company had just donated substantially to this person’s charity. Never mind that our service to their company was the best in the business and better than the rest of the vendors they used. Never mind that the common associate they were leveraging, was already a large customer of our client… they just wanted more.
I pondered this for quite some time. I’m still baffled by it. There is no reason behind selfishness and greed; no reason behind power and control. Apparently, they believe integrity can be split in portions and handed out a la cart.
Not in my world. I believe the substance of who we are is ONLY who we are. We can’t be a tyrant at work and put on a loving face at home. We can’t treat our relationships as if they don’t matter when we don’t get our way. We can’t be the philanthropist to some and steal from or take advantage of others. We can’t be kind and genuine to our associates only when things are going perfectly our way, and lash out when they are not. We can’t be a split personality and still have integrity. If integrity is the substance of who we are, then we either have it or we don’t. Webster defines Integrity as steadfastly adhering to high moral principles. It is a part of our company’s vision statement. Something we strive to perfect on a daily basis.
The common associate this person was trying to leverage using USR as a pawn, did not lash out by taking away the business they were giving this person. Rather, they took the higher road, and maintained their own integrity regardless of whether or not it would be returned in kind.
Such are the lessons we learn in business and life. The center of our integrity is the sum and substance of who we really are.