November 15

Accountability – how to make it real, part 2


In my last blog, I discussed “choosing the right values.”I discussed the elements of your business that form the foundation for adopting values that will best serve you. In other words, what values can withstand the constant pressures to temporarily abandon those values (a lapse), or completely ignore them (they were never really your values in the first place)?  

How you choose your values deserves a deeper dive. There are challenges to the connection between your values, your culture and your strategies. 

Here’s an example of how NOT to do it. Wells Fargo Bank is the current poster child for elevating bad behavior to an art form.   

Here is a summary of Wells Fargo’s applicable statedvalues:

  • What’s right for customers.Customers are at the center of everything we do. We want to exceed customer expectations and build lifetime relationship.
  • People as a competitive advantage.Attract, develop, motivate and retain the best – and collaborate across businesses and functions – to serve customers.
  • Ethics.We’re committed to the highest standards of integrity, transparency and principled performance. We do the right thing and hold ourselves accountable.
  • Leadership.We want everyone to lead themselves, the team and the business – in service to customers, communities, team members, and shareholders.

Then, under the guise of an aggressive cross-selling strategy, they proceeded to open approximately 2 million unauthorized customer deposit and credit card accounts – for which those customers were billed monthly. They began around 2011 and continued until it was discovered in 2016. 

Five thousand employees were fired, 2 successive CEOs and a senior Vice President were ousted (the vice president took early retirement). The ultimate cost to the bank will exceed $2 billion. They are currently operating under a congressional order that prevents them from expanding until they clean up their act. There’s more, but you get the idea.

All of the above begs many questions. Here are a few: Given their stated values, what made it possible for so many people to do the things they did – with no accountability – for so long? How did they set unachievable goals to execute their cross-selling strategies, with full knowledge that they could not possibly achieve those goals with the experience and skill levels of their line employees? Why would they develop strategies that flagrantly contradicted the culture they said they wanted?     

And finally, what could they have done differently to pursue an ambitious strategy of cross-selling without brazenly abandoning their values?

As an outside observer, one obvious conclusion is this. Their stated values were not their real values. They were marketing slogans, designed to create a false impression of who they really were. The slogan produced enough trust (protective cover) to allow them to be their authentic selves, one that valued only profits, growth and shareholder value – attained by any means necessary.The Wells Fargo experience has valuable lessons for all of us. It shines a light on how difficult it can be to choose the right values (one’s you can live under all conditions). It also sets the stage for how to go about doing that – and that is something I will explore in our next blog post.  


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Book Reviews

Mastering Your Balance

Amazon Book Reviews

D. Thurman April 7, 2021

The areas of balance required to perform as a top level organization are lifted from the almost unconscious to the very conscious in Mastering Your Balance. As a business and executive coach I see business leaders mostly consumed 95% if the time with near term issues. A perpetual game of Whack-A-Mole.

Perhaps, getting the various elements covered in the book in play and more importantly in balance these leaders would have far less moles to whack, and therefore much more time and energy available execute on their greater purpose.

Shane Willard April 21, 2021

Bill & Jason get it. Having coached thousands of businesses and business leaders their insight is invaluable. They beautifully weave Vision, Values, Culture, Strategy & Purpose together into actionable steps any leader can implement. As they say, no matter how good one is at these individual elements, without balance greatness will always lie just behind your reach.

The 'what-would-it-take' concept in Chapter 2 makes you peel back the excuses and think creatively. "To achieve the impossible you must first envision the improbable."

At its core, this book serves as a blueprint for each vital element necessary to achieve success and balance organizationally (and personally). It reminds leadership where they need to focus.

Joe Fera April 1, 2021

What would it take to shatter your limiting beliefs and lead your company to heights only dreamed? Read ‘Mastering Your Balance’. Bill & Jason have demystified the ‘Dark Matter’ of great leadership and great organizations and boiled it down to highly actionable and implementable elements. Aha moments abound!

LR March 31, 2021

Mastering Your Balance answers the question and is a must read and reread for any organization daring to go from good to great! Mastering Your Balance shines a much needed light, drawing our attention to it, causing us to remember it's significance. More than words, we are reminded that a carefully crafted mission/vision statement is the organization's North Star.

Severin Sorensen March 24, 2021

As a business coach I'm always looking for books to inspire the human mind, and give direction to business owners seeking to raise their performance in the great game of business. Mastering Your Balance is one of those books. The authors are experienced in the art of giving profound advice to their clients.