Are the words integrity, trust, honesty and loyalty gone forever? These are the words I base my professional and personal life on. While I may have inadvertently made a mistake along the way, I like to think my decisions have been made on integrity and honesty.
I know there are many of you out there who have built your reputation and business on these concepts also. Sadly, I experience the demise of these concepts on almost a weekly basis.
Growing up, my father would say to some business associate or customer, “We have a deal!” and shook on it. That was all that was needed. He upheld his side and the other side did their part. Today, I hear more people make fun of a handshake deal than actually do it. Most infer that anyone who deals in that manner is careless or uninformed. What is it that has made these concepts obsolete? Is it greed or, dare I say, legal influence?
I guess greed is a possibility. The pressure at the Wall Street or private equity level could be it. People are under so much pressure to deliver financial results that they stretch or cloud the truth to make deals and agreements work. Of course, there is also personal greed, which can motivate individuals to get the truth out of focus for their own gain.
Lately, the term “fake news” has been in the mainstream media. I’m not sure whether it’s fake or not, but what would be the motivation to report mistruths? Sensationalism is the answer – because it drives revenue. The desire for profit outweighs the news outlets’ need to be a trusted source.
Legal gymnastics could be another reason why these terms have become obsolete. Many times, I’ve gotten this legal advice: “Well, if you do it that way, it is illegal, but if you alter the approach and do it this way, you can probably get away with it.” If the activity is outside of the law one way, then, in my opinion, it’s probably not an activity that should be pursued.
When we enter into an agreement with a customer and employee or others, it should be based on an understanding of completion on both parties. Sadly, contracts are a necessary evil today, as are legal battles. At some point, there will be a breaking point. Customers, employees and even owners are going to have to live up to what they commit to do. Until then, I guess we have to work with trusted partners and protect ourselves against the rest.