The 'boa' we all wrestle with

LEADERSHIP Book it: Best bets for board reading From a roundup oj new books, leadership insights on hiring smartly, succeeding at succession, heading off trouble in the boardroom, dealing with the press ... and being yourself. The 'boa' we all wrestle with From What Really Matters by John Pepper. Copyright 2005, 2007 by Procter & Gamble. Published by Caravan, Yale Univer- sity Press (Mnvw.caravanbooks.org). L IVING AUTHENTICALLY eams the reputation I love to hear ascribed to someone — "What you see is what you get." No matter where they are, no matter whom they are talking to, they're the same. Why? Because they are acting in line with their basic values and feelings. They do what they beheve is right, not what consensus demands and not what is safe and accepted. That's integrity. And it is power for the simple reason that above aU else people respond to what a person is. This is why the biggest Impact we have on others doesn't come in formal, skill-based training courses, or in prepared talks and presentations. No, it comes in those moments when we exhibit spontaneity, genuineness, and conviction. "It takes great boldness to dare to be oneself," Albert Camus once said. I agree. Consistency is the other dimension of integrity I want to highlight. The longer I live, the more I learn that each viola- tion of what I believe is right, even if it isn't the biggest mat- ter in the world, can become a crack in my self-esteem and confidence. Ronald Reagan had it right in a talk he gave in J 993: "The character that takes command in moments of cru- cial choices has already been determined by a thousand other choices made earlier at seemingly unimportant moments. It Hd Note: Excerpts printed with permision of the publishers. All rights reserved. 54 DIRECTORS & BOARDS has been determined by all of the seemingly little choices of years past, by all those times when the voice of conscience was at war with the voice of temptation, whispering, aloud or internal, it doesn't really matter." President Reagan's comments remind me of a story told by Norm Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., a close friend and valued member of P&G's board of directors. Norm dramatized the importance of our consistently trying to do what's right by examining the habits of a snake, of all things. Norm once thoughl, as Idid, ihat the boa constrictor made its kill hy quickly crushing its victim with its powerful body. But in fact the boa places two or three coils of its body around the chest of its prey, and each time the victim exhales the boa simply takes up the slack. After three or four breaths, there is no more slack. The prey quickly suffocates and is then swallowed by the boa. Norm went on to note that this deadly phenomenon of the victim becoming an un- witting accomplice in its own destruction is not confined to the world of reptiles. The boa we have to face and overcome is following our ethical values: "Each lapse is another coil of the snake." John Pepper was chairman ot Procter & Gamble Co, from 2000 to 2002 and chairman and CEO from 1995 to 1999. He joined the company in 1963. He now serves as chairman of the board of Walt Disney Co. and a director of Boston Scientific Corp.
 

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