Integrity

“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”

Oprah Winfrey, American media mogul and philanthropist

The year was 2001. I had newly been named CEO of Campbell Soup Company amid some turmoil. The company had been performing poorly for several years. And the culture was palpably toxic; you could feel the dissatisfaction in the halls of the headquarters. The exterior of the building – flanked with menacing razor wire and overgrown weeds – was a dismal visual metaphor for the state of the enterprise. Morale was abysmally low. But there was hope. I had a plan to turn things around; I believed in the potential of this iconic institution.

As is true with most organizations, most members of the workforce at Campbell were good people who wanted to contribute and thrive. But things had been deteriorating for a while: there had been a lack of competent leadership, an erosion of trust, and there were no longer the right conditions for people to do their best work. I knew that if the leadership could show the people who worked there that we valued them, they would in turn begin to value the institution again, and we could right the ship together.

As with everything in leadership, it all came back to trust. I would need to build it carefully and with determination. Absent any hard evidence, why should people believe that I was different, that I would do what I said I would do? I had to prove it. Hiring me, even though ...

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