Monday, December 27, 2010

Excellence before Integrity

Integrity is a measure of where a person stands in times of challenge and controversy. ~ Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 59
If you are a fan of college football, you know it is bowl time. Being from Boise, Idaho, we are well aware that Bronco Nation rode the BCS rollercoaster in a race for the national championship or at least the Rose Bowl. Coming off a 26-3 win over Utah in the Las Vegas Maaco Bowl, fans wonder what could have been if only…

  • Boise State had won Nevada game.
  • Oregon State or Auburn had lost during the season.
However, the focus of this discussion is not about winning but about a matter of integrity. Kellen Moore, Boise State’s quarterback, was a finalist in the Heisman Trophy race. However, Auburn’s Cam Newton won the trophy in one of the most controversial races of all times due to a cloud of allegations surrounding Newton’s recruitment and his suspension over honor code violations. There is no doubt that Cam was an excellent football player, but did he epitomize the award?

Here is a portion of the Heisman Trust Mission Statement: "The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust ensures the continuation and integrity of this award…"

Cam Newton’s winning the Heisman Trophy spurred much discussion among leadership experts as to whether trust members violated the very essence of the award by bestowing the honor upon Newton. The Washington Post’s On Leadership blog asked leadership experts this question: “In dealing with top performers, how much should leaders overlook corner cutting, rule breaking and other integrity issues?”
If the trust members did indeed compromise the intent of the trophy, what have they said to previous and future winners? In contrast, the Hall of Fame board has stood firm that Pete Rose not be inducted due to ethical issues. Are there others in the Hall of Fame who shouldn't be--who may have "gotten by" undetected?

As a fire service leader, have you compromised the Wildland Fire Leadership Values and Principles when dealing with top performers who fail to exhibit what “right” looks like?
John Baldoni offers organizations a bit of advice in his short leadership video titled "Character Counts."

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