Personal Responsibility & Integrity

Is personal responsibility, and therefore integrity, at worst, dead? Or, at best, heading the way of the dinosaur? Or, is it just me?

I think there’s a cliche that says something like … say what you mean and mean what you say. Is that really too difficult today? Is acting authentically and consistently, within our personal values, a thing of the past? Or, is it something that sounds good in theory but not possible practically?

Take, for example, a recent article in Compliance Week entitled “Wayward CFOs Often Coerced by CEOs.” I’m thrilled to know that CFOs, who are tempted to blur the lines, aren’t necessarily going down the wrong path because they, themselves, have something to gain personally. But how very sad that Finance Leaders would fall on their sword, and thus go against their own personal values of integrity and honesty, for a boss and in order to keep a job.

“The Importance of Character” appeared on the AmEx Open Forum today and this line jumped out at me:

Years ago, I read a line in a book which said: “When in doubt, act like the Chairman would.” Is the “years ago” part telling?

The author goes on to say:

Leadership is a privilege and with it, come certain obligations, one of which is that leaders need to instill trust in people that they will do the right things, regardless of whether or not they are being watched.

Integrity. Personal responsibility.

A new report from the Quarterly Corporate Fraud Index Network produced by The Network and BDO Consulting, and posted by, says reported fraud jumped in the first quarter of 2011 to a near all-time high.

Is this a result of the lack of integrity and personal responsibility?

As a grandmother (ha, you didn’t know I was that old did you?) I wonder … will personal responsibility and integrity be merely remembered as a “fad of the past” by the time my grandchildren are grown? Will they understand the consequences of always shifting the blame toward someone else rather than standing firm for what they know is right and true and which they value, or will that (a lack of personal responsibility and integrity) just be the new societal norm?

What is the legacy we are leaving for future generations? I know. Lots of questions and very little wisdom from this corner of the world today.

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2 thoughts on “Personal Responsibility & Integrity”

  1. Cindy

    You are certainly addressing a hot topic. But from where I am sitting it is not a new topic.

    I am fortunate to speak with senior financial executives daily. I can tell you that they take Integrity and Personal Responsibility very seriously. As someone that listens and hears things that cannot be repeated, I can tell you that 99%+ of CFOs and other financial executives have rock solid Integrity.

    From where I sit, it is the very small proportion of bad eggs that spoil it for the rest. Reported Fraud is up because our culture now accepts reporting fraud and not sweeping it under the rug. I’m pleased to see that research shows the CFOs are not the instigators of fraud. I have heard this from CFOs who face this kind of pressure, and each one that I’ve spoken with has taken the right path.
    To recap, the topic is hot, but it has been around for a long time. It’s just that today, we hear about it more.

    Samuel Dergel, CA, CPA, CPC
    Senior Partner & Practice Leader, CFO Search
    Website :

    • Thanks, as always, for your perspective, Samuel!

      I sure don’t see it with the stellar finance executives with whom I work, but I sure do see a lot of headlines indicating that behavior abounds! And you’re right … we are living in the information age so we see/hear more of it since this is the kind of headline that sells.


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