By John Blumberg, Andersen Alumnus
Never before has it be more important for the leader at the top to understand the impact and potential of personal and organizational core values. On Tuesday, April 19th, Andersen Alumni as well as National Speaker and Author John Blumberg will officially release his 3rd book, Return On Integrity: The New Definition of ROI and Why Leaders Need to Know It! Best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni, describes John’s newest book this way: John Blumberg has put together the most comprehensive, compelling guide to core values I've ever read. It's a treasure for leaders who understand the importance of culture.
As an exclusive preview, we thought you might enjoy this opening excerpt from the Overview of Return On Integrity. You can order the book from Amazon (Click Here) or from major book retailers across America.
Now … from the Overview:
I was sitting on the foot of the bed, in a downtown Denver hotel watching CNN. It was about 5:30 PM on a cloudy Thursday, March 14, 2002. I had just come from speaking with a training room full of Arthur Andersen employees from the Denver office. I had been speaking in the Los Angeles office just two days prior.
While I had left a wonderful eighteen-year career at the firm just five years before, I was coming home to talk with a family I loved—in their darkest hour. As I sat on the end of the bed, CNN was reporting that the Department of Justice had, in fact, just announced the indictment of Arthur Andersen as a firm rather than indicting individuals involved directly in the Enron situation. It would prove to be a decisive nail in the coffin for the firm, affecting the careers of its 85,000 professionals and their families worldwide.
It’s hard to describe how hard and how personal that news hit.
As I sat there trying to process the reality of the news and its impact, I simply said, “Dear God, if we can all learn something from any of this, then it will be worth it. But please let us learn something.” The key word was “all” because I was certain that this lesson wasn’t something that just the people of Arthur Andersen or even the people of Enron needed to learn. It was all of us!
That question was: What’s the lesson in this? Maybe more importantly: What is the solution?
Sitting on the foot of that bed was a defining moment for me, though I didn’t realize it at the time. It was hard that night to see anything but darkness. It is only in looking back that I understand how that prayer would not let go of me. Sometimes lessons come slowly. At least the really important ones. I can still picture sitting on the end of that bed. Nothing changed that night. It would, however, be the first step in a journey that would eventually clarify everything.
As that clarity came into focus, it raised some important questions.
What if you got to the end of your career and realized you had missed something that could have totally defined your leadership, your success, and ultimately your legacy? What if you realized you had dismissed a powerful tool and an authentic strategy that you always had right at your fingertips? Or more precisely, right at your core?
As a fiscally minded executive, you might be especially disappointed to know that employing this tool would have cost you very little in comparison to the potential it could have delivered. It might have saved you millions. For certain executives, it could have saved them everything. Some executives discount it. Others ignore it. Some have manipulated it for their own gain. But only a few have intentionally led with it.
Many executives have embraced the tip of the iceberg of this strategy and then checked it off their list as if it were something that could be completed rather than lived. Still others have been comfortable with it at the organizational level, but found themselves unable to take it to the personal level.
Some executives have thought it was just all about the soft stuff, when in truth it was just too hard for them to do. Many were seduced by the momentum of the time, and some weren’t strong enough to embrace what they mistakenly wrote off as an approach for the weak.
Many executives drift, while some of their colleagues actually drown. Few executives live up to their enormous potential; and because of their negligence, they let their followers down. They don’t do it on purpose. But the consequences are just the same. Ignoring the truth doesn’t change the truth. But ignoring the truth changes us.
We will never truly know the cost of the lost opportunities. That cost can’t be fully measured. In a world with significant devotion to the measurable, some executives may think that what is not measurable can’t be that important. They may think it doesn’t really matter. Maybe it doesn’t matter for what’s already in the past—but it certainly does matter for the future.
This tool, this strategy, is nothing new. In fact, it’s as old as the human race. Anyone in a leadership position would intellectually be cognizant of it. The problem is, few have ever taken the time to study it, or more precisely, to actually understand it.
On the surface, this concept is deceptively simple, and that’s a big part of the problem in having leaders embrace it. We think we know all about it. Because we think we know all about it, we would rather work around it. Avoid it. Work on something that seems much more sophisticated. Complexity makes us look smarter. And looking smarter is easier than being courageous. Executives in leadership positions can certainly fool most of the people most of the time. But this deception is ultimately wasteful. It wastes resources. More tragically, it wastes human potential and fulfillment. You can ignore it. But it will never ignore you.
The greatest tragedy is that we miss out on what is truly possible—personally as a leader, and collectively as an organization.
The strategy I’ve been talking about is a strategy based on core values, both in an organization and in an individual. In any organization, they are two sides of the same coin. Ultimately, it’s this currency that matters most.
As we move forward, I hope the points I make will stir the conscience and consciousness of every leader at every level. Most importantly, I hope it will stir you on a personal level. I hope you will find our experience together to be challenging. It may even be a bit painful, but there will be huge rewards as a result. I can guarantee these rewards if you fully engage. I have no doubt you can take it. I hope you will also find this book to be relentlessly refreshing and a source of restoration—something many leaders probably need. Most importantly, I hope it will harness your desire to truly lead from your core; and I trust that once that powerful connection is made, you will never let go of it.