COMPANY CULTURE

Accountability and Integrity: The Golden Rules of Business

Deciding to do the right thing seems like a simple rule of business but often it gets lost in the day-to-day grind.
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Say what you do and do what you say. Do the right things, and the right things will happen. It sounds as simple as the Golden Rule, but there is a surprising lack of accountability and integrity in the business world today.

These two attributes are central to OtterBox and our ability to continue to grow at a rate that's landed us on the Inc. 500|5000 four times. Integrity and accountability are, in fact, two of our core values.

I think most of us know what the right thing is, but being able to execute on it is another matter. Doing what's right isn't always easy. People frequently default to the simplest option as an automatic response, which often means integrity is not upheld and accountability is at stake.

An extreme example of lack of integrity and accountability can be seen in today's political landscape. No matter where they land on the spectrum, politicians are consistently promising to do the right things if elected. Lower taxes, save the environment, stimulate the economy - every election season the American public is inundated with promises.

To be fair, these politicians might actually think they can follow through on their vows, but the lack of results from any single one of them or any party as a whole has become an epidemic in and of itself.  That's where accountability comes in - you must do what you say.

Much like the American public, customers are quickly fed up with a lack of accountability. However, unlike the American public will quickly respond and take their business elsewhere.  Like Howard Beale said in the 1976 film Network, they'll be "mad as hell" and surely are "not going to take this anymore!"

Also unlike politicians, businesses can and must admit when they have fallen through on promises. Not all decisions made will be the right ones, but open and honest communication about those situations maintains integrity and accountability.

Integrity and accountability are daily decisions, not one-offs reserved for top level decisions by the CEO. Every employee must adhere to these values in all the tasks and operations they do. If a business doesn't have integrity in the small things, no one will believe it has integrity in the big things.

IMAGE: Shutterstock
Last updated: May 17, 2012

CURT RICHARDSON | Columnist | Founder and CEO of OtterBox

OtterBox founder and CEO Curt Richardson created the first prototype of a waterproof case in his garage in the early '90s. OtterBox evolved into a leader in protective cases for mobile technology.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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