A Comment on Enron From a Reader
Editor's Note: For the essay that sparked this reflection piece, see Tom Morris', "If Aristotle Ran Enron,".
Enron's deception was driven by general hubris run amok, greed-lust by more than a handful and, as you suggested, the total disconnect of Enron leadership's ethical "do" from its "say."
I see a strong lesson in the "say-do" disconnect, and I believe that milder forms of "say-do" misalignment --whether on ethical or non-ethical issues -- represent a cultural and performance Achilles heel for many organizations and relationships. We "say" this is important, but we "do" otherwise.
If we do not "do" what we "say" we value (and, hopefully, what we say we value is good), how, then, can we be trusted?
As you argue in If Aristotle Ran General Motors, consistency, or alignment, is a key attribute of the high-performing organization. Consistency in truth-saying and truth-doing creates rich, fertile soils for nurturing relationships. It creates powerful bonds of trust - performance enhancing trust. Not coincidentally, you make a similar case for the merits of well-placed consistency in your book "True Success/ - acting consistently in pursuit of our targeted objectives!
Absent a "say-do" consistency, aligned with integrity, we, conversely, throw up barriers of mistrust. That is what Enron and others lately have done. Tom Morris and tens of thousands of others - from investors to investment analysts to employees to vendors - trusted what they were told. What they were told was not true. Critical actions taken by Enron leadership, and in some instances, others at Enron, were not aligned with truth-telling, fairness, or integrity. Instead, they were aligned with the unrestrained drive for personal gain and pride-preening - to the extreme.
Aligning consistently with truth and integrity is easier said than done. But it's critical. It's the glue that binds people together. Without it, we fall apart. Without it, humanity is hapless.
Moreover, moving to the other end of the truth-and-integrity-alignment continnuum, we find in it the stuff of real high-performance. We find in it the stuff of real living!
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