The Golden Rules for Managers: 119 Incredible Lessons for Leadership Success

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You can argue the guy had no authority to sign it, but you. John Boten, commercial systems manager of John Deere, feels that every transaction, no matter how large or small, should be conducted with integrity. When his company was undercharged by a vendor, he acted like King David, not King Ahab. Zacchaeus was a tax collector for the Roman government, one of the least popular professions in ancient Israel.

But he was not beyond rehabilitation. Because he was a short man, he climbed a tree so he could more clearly see and hear this mysterious prophet, Jesus. Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay him back four times the amount. In the early s, audio- tapes revealed that a group of Texaco executives had racist attitudes and were systematically denying the hiring and promotion of Afri- can Americans.

Texaco denied the problem at first, but finally CEO Peter Bijur decided to take an approach with more integrity. You might think that his hiring criteria would be aggressiveness and hard- headed numbers-crunching. Hire someone without the first, and the other two will kill you. Do not have two differing measures in your house—one large, one small.

You must have accurate weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land. If the New York Times put how you did it on the front page, would you be proud? I want you folks to get out there. It never works the other way around. You may argue that those Bible leaders had it easy, that they lived in a much less complex world and traded in a few camels, not billions of dollars. The issues of right and wrong were much more clear-cut then, and ethical decisions could be made a lot more easily. Tell that to the protagonists in the Book of Job. What is often forgotten is his integrity.

Job was a recipient of every calamity known to God and man. To compound matters, all his sons and daughters were killed when a windstorm collapsed the house in which they were feasting. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. He had owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a large number of servants.


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He had lost all seven of his sons and daughters. If any man could be pardoned for temporarily or permanently deserting his principles, it would be Job. Curse God and die! Shall we accept good from God and not trouble? I will not deny my integrity. In a sense, all that he had left was his integrity, and he was determined to hold onto it. Leaders in all ages should realize that whether the coffers are bulging or empty, whether the flock is increas- ing or dwindling, integrity is the measure of leadership. When his company went through some difficult times in the mids, he did not seek a pure mathematical model for cutting costs.

He considered the overall impact on the company and on the individuals who had in many cases spent their whole lives working for the company. But he could make an impact by betraying the man many believe to be the son of God. People who lack integrity usually show it in a variety of situations.

A modern leader who feigned empathy toward the poor while he was enriching himself at their expense was William Aramony, former CEO of The United Way, the organization that historically has helped the modern equivalent of the widow, the orphan, the blind, the halt, and the lame. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Appointed governor by King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah could have enriched himself and used any means at his disposal to complete the temple. But: Neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor.

But the earlier governors. I did not act like that. Instead I devoted myself to the work on this wall. Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table.

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Each day one ox, six choice sheep and some poultry were prepared for me. This was for the sake of the morale of the people and for rapid completion of the task. Several thousand years ago, Ezekiel addressed this universal problem using a very similar analogy: When a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it. So I will spend my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash.

The Golden Rule and Leadership

Until we got to that point, we were chasing ourselves around in a circle. But he reasoned that he had looked only among the rank and file, not the exalted and moral heads of the metrop- olis. Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them, a wolf from the desert will ravage them.

Today, lack of honesty and integrity in our business and political leaders has fewer direct physical consequences, but just as great an impact on the business and political climate in our country. Which company acted with more integrity? Which realized bet- ter short- and long-term economic and public relations results? The prophet Isaiah lived in an era where honesty and integrity were not the foundations of the nation of Israel.

I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips. In a corrupt organization, all get corrupted. Perhaps Isaiah had nowhere else to go, or perhaps he had a supreme dedication to his people, but he decided to stay and reform the organization, despite the fact that he was preaching his message as forcefully as he could while no one seemed to be listening or responding.

Every organization has at least one Isaiah, someone who reminds the organization of its original mission and principles each time it strays from them.


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  • The wisest leaders protect their Isaiahs from harm or even become Isaiahs themselves. Over 90 percent of the Fortune have a statement of ethics.

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    But to many, these statements are just writing on the wall. How many oper- ationalize them like Northrup Grumman, which has an ethics depart- ment with a full-time staff that trains and counsels employees on the complex and daunting issues often faced in the aerospace industry?

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    Sir Adrian Cadbury, CEO of a company whose name is associated with sweetness, not toughness, stands firm in his belief that actions, not words, are the key measures of integrity. What are our personal rules of conduct? Who else will be affected?

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    It takes very strong individuals to maintain these traits, particularly when they are in a position of power, with no checks, balances, or rules. The rule of law is repeated many times over in the Bible, as are the actual laws. There are particularly strong warnings about abuses of power by those in high authority, as well as commands for leaders and followers at all levels to behave ethically. The following passage was written by Moses, centuries before Saul was anointed the first king of Israel.

    Moses was keenly aware of the potential for abuse of power by any leader, no matter how upright. Therefore, he suggested some safeguards, which we have too often ig- nored in selecting our modern business and political leaders or which they have ignored even when they were in place : The king. He must not take too many wives or his heart will be led astray.

    He must not accumu- late large amounts of silver and gold. When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life. Even kings and CEOs or perhaps especially kings and CEOs need written standards and guidelines to help remind them how to act ethi- cally. And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees. There are any number of people in this company who came here—and stay here—because of our ethical standards.

    He also feels that maintaining an ongoing set of ethical standards. Out of the messes you create new levels of excellence. Something has to come out of every serious event. How do you take it to the next step? Gary Heavin is the founder of Curves for Women, an international franchisor of health clubs for women.

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    Heavin, a conservative Christian, has based his company largely on New Testament principles. But ironically, he has attracted Chasidic Jews as franchisees. Sounds like a typical family business. You saw him? Say nothing you would not say if Jesus were coming. Think nothing you would not think if Jesus were coming. I can only imagine how the unit would have functioned without the sign! And often, exposure hap- pens just at the time when its purveyors can least afford it. Employees are watching, not just in the electronics industry, but in the airlines too.

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    Gordon Bethune took over Continental Airlines at a time when morale and trust were extremely low. I have to sleep at night. The basic message of the credo is: Be straight with your employees, your customers, the public, and your- self, and you will achieve long-term success.

    During the Tylenol crisis, the company made an ethical decision that before risking even one more life to potential cyanide poisoning, economic sacrifice was neces- sary.