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Business Daily from THE HINDU group of publications

Monday, Sep 1, !""#
T$e Ne% Manager & Management
Being honest when no one’s looking
In times of conflict or dilemma, it is personal integrity that tells us what to do.
Class acts: '()( *is%anat$
Ramesh Venkateswaran
In 1#+", '()( *is%anat$ captained India in t$e ,ubilee test against England( T$e England batsman, Bob Taylor, %as
gi-en out by t$e umpire( .s Taylor started $is %al/ to t$e pa-ilion, *is$y called $im bac/ saying $e %as not out( Taylor
returned and made a big score( England %ent on to %in t$e matc$(
T%enty&fi-e years later( !""0( T$e )ome 1pen Tennis Tournament( 2ernando *erdasco ser-ing against .ndy )oddic/(
)oddic/ on matc$ point( *erdasco3s second ser-e is called fault( 'ame, set and matc$ to )oddic/4 .ndy )oddic/ tells
t$e c$air umpire t$at t$e ball %as in( T$e umpire re-erses t$e decision( )oddic/ loses t$e point, t$e game, t$e set and
t$e matc$ to *erdasco(
T$ese are t%o e5amples of outstanding sportsmans$ip( T$at is not t$e point of t$is piece( T$ese e5amples led me to
t$in/ about t$e /inds of dilemmas and conflicts %e face in t$e real %orld and t$at managers come up against in t$eir
normal %or/day(
T$e dilemma of c$oosing to be dis$onest and yet not c$eating( T$e conflict %e fre6uently face in t$e corporate %orld(
7et me e5plain %$at I mean( In t$e t%o situations abo-e, t$e issue is 8 could *is$y or )oddic/ $a-e been accused of
c$eating if t$ey $ad not got t$e umpires to o-errule t$eir decision in fa-our of t$eir opponents4 Did t$ey need to tell
t$e umpire t$at t$eir 9udgment %as %rong4 T$e ans%er is a definite N1(
T$e reason is simple( It is t$e umpire3s 9ob to ta/e t$e decision and t$e players $a-e to abide by it( T$ey %ere
definitely not c$eating if t$ey %ent by t$e umpire3s decision(
T$en %$y did t$ey do %$at t$ey did4 T$ey %ere ob-iously dri-en by somet$ing more important to t$em( Honesty(
T$ey could not accept a situation %$en t$ey /ne% t$e trut$ %as ot$er%ise e-en t$oug$ t$ey %ere not ans%erable for
t$e situation or decision(
Dilemmas of t$e modern day manager
T$is, I belie-e, is t$e cru5 of t$e dilemmas of e5ecuti-es in t$e %orld of business today( .s e5ecuti-es, %e are often
faced %it$ situations t$at %e could comfortably turn a blind eye to because it does not concern us( Ho%e-er, %e /no%
%$at is being done is not rig$t by t$e boo/ and t$e dilemma %e %ill face is 8 s$ould %e spea/ out4
In life, %e are often faced %it$ suc$ situations( In t$e business %orld t$is is -ery common( Ha-ing been a salesman all
my %or/ing life, I /no% t$e dilemma a salesperson faces %$en selling a product to a customer %$en $e /no%s t$at it
%ould not be t$e most suitable for t$e purc$aser(
Not t$at it %ould be $armful but $e /no%s t$at t$e customer could do %it$out it or could go in for somet$ing else t$at
%ould be more suitable( T$e sali-a dripping temptation of ac$ie-ing sales targets and bonuses pre-ent us from saying
so( :e rationalise by saying t$e customer is capable of ta/ing t$e decision( T$is situation is e-en more critical %$en
t$e customer as/s for a particular product or ser-ice t$at %e /no% is not t$e best for $im or $er(
1r ta/e t$e case of an H) manager %$o sells t$e company and its -irtues to t$e candidate, only to lea-e t$e company
soon after t$e ne% candidate 9oins( He %as probably on $is notice period %$ile recruiting t$e person( :$at %as t$e
sales spiel about t$e company all about4 ;$eating4 1r dis$onesty4
Similar e5amples could be e5tended to almost any role in t$e corporate %orld or our personal li-es( 1ften t$e line
di-iding being dis$onest and c$eating is t$in( T$e dilemma is e-en greater %$en t$e responsibility rests s6uarely on
us and %e do not $a-e an umpire %$o can s$oulder t$e responsibility, as in t$e %orld of sport(
In t$e corporate %orld, %e are also responsible to t$e company %e %or/ for and to our customers, colleagues and
suppliers( T$ere are many situations %$en t$ere is no one to super-ise us( In t$ose times, %e $a-e to ta/e t$e call(
:$at does one do4
Integrity 8 %$at3s t$at4
T$is brings up t$e matter of integrity( In a time of conflict or dilemma, personal integrity is %$at tells us %$at to do( I am
sure %e all agree on %$at integrity means( I tried defining integrity in a %ay t$at %ould e5plain t$e essence and spirit
of t$e %ord to students, %or/s$op participants, friends and colleagues(
.s I $a-e said, no one could $old it against *is$y or )oddic/ if t$ey did not do %$at t$ey did( <et, t$ey displayed $ig$
le-els of integrity in t$eir actions and be$a-iour( So %$at is integrity4 T$e %ords t$at come to mind are $onest, trut$ful,
conscientious, and t$e li/e(
T$ey all e5plain integrity and yet do not capture t$e essence of integrity( In a recent c$at %it$ my friend ,eya =umar
%$o is t$e ;E1 of a large IT company, $e came up %it$ a one&sentence definition of integrity t$at struc/ me as bot$
succinct and apt(
,eya described integrity as %$at you do %$en no one is %atc$ing( It set me t$in/ing and I t$in/ t$is pretty muc$ sums
up a 6uality %e tal/ of fre6uently as an important part of a manager3s tool/it( I %as loo/ing for some simple e5amples
to get t$is point across(
. ta5i dri-er in Hyderabad un/no%ingly $elped me out( I %as on a pri-ate -isit to t$e city and $ad arranged a cab for
t$e day( :e $ad discussed t$e rates and t$oug$ I found t$e dri-er3s rates for an air&conditioned car $ig$, %e struc/ a
deal( T$e ne5t morning as I got into t$e car, t$e dri-er told me t$at since t$e day %as pleasant and t$ere %as really no
need for t$e .;, I could c$oose to $ire t$e car %it$out $a-ing t$e .; on for )s +0"( T$is %as )s 10" less t$an t$e
agreed rate for t$e .; car( I %as stumped(
T$e dri-er made me an offer t$at %ould see $im forego 10 per cent of $is re-enue( .n e5cellent e5ample of a person
%$o %as being $elpful at t$e cost of losing 10 per cent re-enue( I cannot imagine a corporate professional %$o %ould
be %illing to do t$is(
.s I go o-er t$is incident, I get greater clarity on %$at integrity means and ,eya3s definition of >no one is %atc$ing?( I
get greater clarity on t$e number of times in our 9obs %e may not be c$eating but are not $onest eit$er( Suc$ $onesty
may not e-en be demanded of us and yet it %ould ma/e us stand out from t$e rest(
Integrity is a 6uality t$at e-eryone tal/s about as essential in managers and leaders( Successful leaders are people
%it$ un6uestionable integrity( I belie-e t$at eac$ one of us $as to gi-e serious t$oug$t to t$is aspect of integrity and
articulate clearly %$at it means to us personally and $o% %e could translate it into action and be$a-iour(
:e may not $a-e many e5ecuti-es %$o c$eat( I am e6ually sure %e do not $a-e many managers %$o are $onest( :e
must as/ oursel-es $o% many *is%anat$s and )oddic/s %e $a-e on our team4 1r on a personal le-el, can I be a
*is%anat$ or )oddic/4 T$at is %$at %ill ma/e us truly great(
(The writer is Director, D! Institute for !anagement De"elopment, !ysore.#