Thirty-eight percent of the senior
leaders responded affirmatively, with
many of them saying that such issues
are perpetual:
Yes. Senior managers must constantly
work on issues of trust—even if it is
only to maintain trust. It takes only
one incident to wipe away months or
years of building trust.
Yes. Absolutely. Trust is a human
dynamic. It is perishable. It is pre-
cious. We need to make it a primary
principle. It is never perfectly
The majority of respondents—62
percent—said there were no current
and tangible issues of trust or mis-
trust in their own backyards, although
even some of these executives
acknowledged that the maintenance
of trust could be tenuous:
No. Presently I am not addressing
nor am I aware of any such issues. I
established a yearly training program
to ensure that I pass information on
ethics to my entire workforce.
No. In my organization we have trust.
However, trust is fragile and we must
always pay attention. I have a partic-
ular concern that the types of ethical
lapses that have occurred elsewhere
not happen here, so there is height-
ened awareness and we talk about it
a lot as an important issue—far more
than we did a year ago.
Interestingly, some of the respon-
dents, whether they answered yes or
no to the third question, went on to
make a distinction between trust and
ethics. They tended to view issues
of trust as more interpersonal and
internal to the organization and
ethical issues as external to the
Trust is different from ethics. Yes, I
have issues of trust with some of the
people I work with, but not issues of
While I believe our senior leadership
exhibits high ethics when it comes to
public trust, we have significant chal-
lenges trusting each other. At the top
it is so competitive to get and stay
there that a culture of mistrust has
grown up among the senior leaders.
Information is power, and too often
our senior leaders hold it close to get
a competitive edge.
I am not having to address issues of
trust in terms of corporate ethics.
Trust transcends ethics and encom-
passes employees’ feelings about
whether leaders are competent and
open. These latter issues, small or
large, need to be addressed in a con-
tinuous fashion.
Frank J. Navran, principal consultant
and director of training at the Ethics
Resource Center, a nonprofit educa-
tional organization in Washington,
D.C., has asked the question, “Is
there a difference between values
and ethics?” The results of CCLs
survey of senior leaders indicate that
this is a legitimate question and that
some top executives do make such a
distinction. These leaders apparently
take a narrow view of ethics as
merely abiding by regulations.
However, the law often lags behind
best practices, and as Tim Hatcher,
an associate professor of leadership
and human resource education at the
University of Louisville, has noted,
there is danger in reducing ethics to
“a checkmark on an audit sheet.” So
it is heartening that nearly 70 percent
of the survey respondents believe
that ethics as a code of behavior
should encompass and be integrated
with values—the fundamental beliefs
and principles that define what is not
only legal but also correct, fair, hon-
est, and honorable.
that put a premium on ethics. (A
number of these responses were from
leaders in the military or govern-
ment.) Here are some typical answers
from leaders who emphasized values
and principles:
It is our culture to be ethical because
so much depends on it. Honor is our
No. 1 core value.
Our organization has never violated
its ethical boundaries and daily
makes decisions that have positive
impacts on its associates. If the focus
were purely oriented toward the bot-
tom line, things would be handled
very differently.
I’m in government service. I find high-
ly ethical behavior among the top
leaders in my organization to be the
norm, particularly among military
members. The cost of unethical actions
is lives, not bottom-line finances, so
there is little tolerance for deviation.
Some leaders who emphasized val-
ues and principles mentioned exam-
ples of fellow executives in their
organizations whom they did not trust
to behave ethically. They believed
these peers were capable of acting
purely out of self-interest, such as
career ambition or financial gain.
Here is one such response:
Recent behavior I have observed
includes lying and changing perspec-
tives depending on the audience in
order to get to the top or stay at the
top. I have also observed partnerships
being formed for individual rather
than corporate benefit.
The final survey question was, “Are
you currently having to address issues
of trust or mistrust as a senior leader
in your organization, or are you aware
of such issues in other parts of your

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