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?????In such a highly-interconnected world, where even a private conversation between two people finds its way to the news media, the need for probity and discretion has become paramount. Even things you did in a completely different avatar have a way of catching up with you and creating all sorts of problems in the present. While it is not possible to undo what has already been done, be mindful of what you do in the present. What am I talking about? 

In the recent past (and almost continuously for the last few decades), we have had scandals undoing the carefully-crafted images of companies and individuals. Both are looking to compete and grow in a highly competitive world, pushing the boundaries in the hope of edging ahead of competitors. In such an environment, reputations are, knowingly or unknowingly, put on the line. These have ramifications well beyond the bottom-line.

Take the example of a Thai beauty contestant: her comments on social media were dug up and she had to relinquish her crown. A politician in France has received a heavy sentence for maligning a minister (also on social media) and may end up in jail. A global pharmaceutical giant has become unstuck in China with scandal after scandal unfolding. The financial services industry is paying out billions of dollars in fines to settle charges against them.

Integrity is of paramount importance if you have ambitions to a profitable future. Yet we see so many trips and spills by individuals and employees that threaten to undo years of hard work.  There is always pressure to perform, meet and exceed targets, beat the forecasts and quarterly-earnings projections. Taking shortcuts seems to be a tempting way to achieve our obligations.

Financial indiscipline, however, is just one part of the equation. Behaviour that is inappropriate at so many levels also comes into play. The example of the Thai beauty queen is being played out across the world by students, teachers, workers and bosses to their lasting embarrassment and remorse. Politicians, too, seem to be afflicted by the same proclivity to self-destruct through a variety of words and deeds that leaves them in disgrace.

A simple check for you before you indulge in whatever it is you are thinking of doing: how would you feel if this were to be broadcast on the news channels?

– Leon Menezes                                                                                                      The writer is a senior HR practitioner, professor-of-practice and an executive coach.

First published in the ADBUZZZZ Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on August 24,, 2014.

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