Decent People, Decent Company

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Decent People, Decent Company

by Robert L. Turknett and Carolyn N. Turknett

Davies-Black © 2005, 207 pages, $25.95 (ISBN 0-89106-206-8).

How to Lead With Character at Work And in Life

The authors of Decent People, Decent Company write that the “headiest economic boom in history has dissolved to reveal a shocking poverty of corporate ethics and leadership.” To help leaders, middle managers and individuals within organizations develop the character for leadership, executive leadership coach Robert Turknett and organizational sociology expert Carolyn Turknett have refined their ideas of “Leadership Character.” In Decent People, Decent Company, they teach the skills for leading with integrity and show readers how to lead with character and courage. They explain that the best leaders — Lincoln, Churchill and Mandela — have confidence in themselves and respect for others, and have a sense of ownership of and responsibility for their entire organization.

Character and Integrity

The Turknetts begin Decent People, Decent Company by stating that they believe “the foundation of leadership must be character, and that the foundation of leadership character must be integrity.” They point out that although the mistakes of leaders can be overcome, failures of integrity cannot.

When companies create trust, treat everyone with respect and encourage leadership at every level, they are much more successful than companies that don’t, the authors write. The individual and the organization are not separate in how they behave or grow, and if you lead with character, no matter where you are in the hierarchy, you can help to build an organization in which:

• All participants are aware of their contributions and willing to challenge the ethics of any action.

• Everyone takes responsibility for and ownership of success.

• All members treat each other with decency and respect, feel they all have a seat at the table and want to enthusiastically invest their energies.

The Leadership Character Model

To help people create better relationships with their colleagues and reduce the number of obstacles between them and their goals, the authors have created the “Leadership Character Model.” This model is depicted as a common scale. The base of the scale is integrity: an essential to behaving with honesty, decency and authenticity.

The two sides of the scale represent respect and responsibility, which are two key leadership qualities one must always strive to keep in balance on the foundation of integrity. The authors write that respect describes the sense of partnership, participation and equality you want to feel in your organization. The core qualities of respect, which are represented in the model as weights on the respect platform, are empathy, lack of blame, emotional mastery and humility.

The other side of the scale is responsibility, which means dependability and full engagement. It represents the willingness to hold both yourself and others accountable with fairness and objectivity. The authors explain that when you are responsible, you are assertive, willing to take risks and accept the consequences of your actions. Self-confidence, accountability, focus on the whole and courage are the core qualities of responsibility.

Throughout the rest of Decent People, Decent Company, the authors show how the Leadership Character Model can guide your process of growth, help you understand and improve relationships, and create a vibrant organizational culture. They also point out that when you develop your own leadership character, the integrity of your organization also grows. By describing dozens of case studies of leaders and employees who were able to focus on respect and empathy, and improve their organizations along the way, the authors show how mistakes can be fixed and organizations can be improved with the Leadership Character Model. They also provide a collection of tools for building an individual’s integrity as well as an organization’s integrity. ~

Why We Like ThIs Book

The authors of Decent People, Decent Company have a gift for being able to describe the importance of integrity when balancing the shifting weights of respect and responsibility. By providing readers with eye-opening research and expert advice, along with the stories from others who have struggled to create better working environments, the Turknetts offer effective ways for people and organizations to grow, become more effective and succeed. ~

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