Winning with Integrity

With what seems like an accelerating frequency, organizations are discovering a toxic element of their workplace culture, expressing surprise over it, conducting an investigation, seemingly cutting out the cancer, and apologizing to their customers.

There is a saying I love that captures the likelihood that this toxicity and its clean up cycle will continue to occur; “Your system is perfectly designed to achieve the results you are getting.” Meaning of course no amount of surprise, wringing of hands, investigations, terminations or apologizing is going to create a different outcome. The different outcome will be found when we change the system and change it at the very top of the food chain.  

In the most notorious collapses of integrity and brand devaluation in recent years, General Motors, Volkswagen, and Wells Fargo, their systems were perfectly designed to achieve the results they got. Jon Picoult of Watermark Consulting in his New York Times article nailed it when he said; “Employees will get their culture cues not from what management says but from what it signals.”

Wells Fargo in their published value statements were exceptionally clear at what they value most and their passion to protect and invest in them; People, Ethics, Customer Fairness, Diversity and Inclusion and Leadership. So how could they have allowed such a huge shift away from integrity to occur and lose about 25 billion dollars of market capitalization and the immeasurable loss of trust for the brand?

Wells Fargo Employees got their culture cue or what was most valued by the company based on what they do; performance. When the culture was under competitive and financial pressure the performance cue was “don’t do what we say, our values, do what we want done; our performance.”  

The story of Volkswagen and General Motors has a similar ring to it. Keep up with Joneses and protect our bottom line in the name of performance and lie to our customers and hide costly defects.

In all three cautionary tales we can see what happens when what we do becomes more valuable than who we are! Even when we have a documented passion for an uncompromising relationship with our brand, its integrity and our people, performance has a nasty habit of taking those good intentions hostage.

Our system is perfectly designed to achieve the results we are getting so let’s change the system and change it from the top!  Here is how, by Celebrating the WINS, organizations can protect their brands, their integrity and their people.

What if we were intentional with keeping our vision and values at the forefront of what we do by celebrating who we are? What if our celebration was rooted in our WINS as they relate to our vision and values and less so about the performance of our mission statement? How much more difficult would it be for a toxic idea to root and hijack our companies, our people and ourselves?

Celebrating the WINS as healthy practice can do so much more than inoculate us from those deadly toxins. Celebrating the WINS is a powerful process for building trust and the overall well being of our organizations. Trust is the catalyst for inspiring creativity, which engages innovation, empowers productivity and ultimately translates to increased competitiveness and profitability. Trust is also where we can turn conflict into profit as it helps organizations and people move from safe ideas to great ideas, cautious conversations to courageous ones and from best practices to next ones!

From an implementation perspective, Celebrating the WINS looks like it sounds. From change management to conflict management, communications to capacity analysis there is space created to Celebrate the WINS as they relate to the participants, their relationship with the vision and values and how they have been advanced!

What I have seen as the most attractive outcome of Celebrating the WINS in the organizations we have worked with is the creation of a bottom line strategy that performance cannot high jack. A healthy return on investment that protects relationships, advances wellness and fairness, empowers pride of ownership and increases prosperity; the sum of an organization and its people best parts!

Here are 3 Steps to implementing a Celebrate the WINS in your organization:

1.      ENGAGE a conversation about the “WHY” of your vision and values with your key leadership team. Consider what would be a WIN through your vision and values for your team would be and how you would measure it.

2.      EMPOWER a conversation with your entire team that invites them to be part of the WINS you have identified and how you plan to celebrate them.

3.      INSPIRE yourself, your team, and your stakeholders with an intentional communication plan that ensures Celebrating the WINS is adding value to you, your team and your bottom line!

At Legendary Coaching our focus is on helping Leaders LEAD themselves and others WELL. We do that together by engaging them where they are at, empowering who they are and inspiring the “why” of what matters to them.” Celebrating the WINS is a daily practice and our clients tells us it’s a game changer for them and their companies!

So the next time you and your team come together I invite you to consider; “What’s at risk to invest in a time of celebrating the WINS?” Or perhaps I should ask what’s at risk not to? Wells Fargo, Volkswagen and general Motors can certainly answer that!

Michael Walker

President and Head Coach

Legendary Coaching


Text/Voice: 1.705.927.6529

michael walker