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Integrity - Refusing to Work in the Gray Areas

Just because there is no rule against it, does not mean it is okay to do it.

“We may be working in the gray areas on this one.”

“How gray?” they asked.

“Charcoal,” was my pithy reply.

I knew we were coming close to crossing a line which was not clearly defined by any law or company policy. But, since it was not clear where the line was officially drawn, I believed it was okay to push our team to operate in the gray. I had fallen into the old belief which said, “If there is no rule against it, it must be okay.”

Looking back, I realize I had set a pretty low standard of Integrity for myself and our team. Fortunately, I had someone show me the right way. He didn’t preach at me nor did he condemn my choices. He simply set a better example.

I had been leading my first sales team for about two years when Stan entered my world. He had been leading his own team for five years. He had already won our company’s coveted sales leadership award twice. To top it off, his team was about to win again. Where was I on the list? The team I led was near the bottom of the ranking report—the very bottom.

Stan’s team sold different products in the same geographic region as our team. They were excelling and we were barely surviving. But I discovered another difference between our teams. His team never deviated into the gray areas. He set the tone that it was not acceptable and his team followed his lead. On the other hand, I set the tone that there were shades of gray which were fair game. I truly believed I was giving my team more flexibility to drive sales—but was I?