No matter how much individuals like their jobs, they’re entitled to be paid. Years ago the company my father was an executive with was purchased in a hostile takeover. The new owners were unable to deliver the paychecks on payday. Their response was, “They’ll just have to wait ‘til Monday.” “My people can’t wait until Monday, they have kids to feed!” was my father’s angry response. He then took matters into his own hands. A town meeting of the 50 staff members was called. “I want each of you to think how much cash you need to get through the weekend, please line up and tell me, in private, what that number is. I’ll write you a personal check, the bank has guaranteed to cash.” People asked for nominal amounts, some nothing. Without prompting, employees paid him back the day their paycheck cleared. The new owners were aghast. They had “never heard of such a thing.” To which my father replied, “And I’m not sure I want to be associated with people who don’t keep their end of a deal.” Soon after the incident, George Cranston retired. I never forgot that lesson.

When it comes to compensation review, make sure people’s benefits are handled fairly and of course be adamant to insure the payroll arrives on time, not just for you, but also for the people who work for you. Payment is part of an agreement, one not to be broken or avoided.

Your reputation is everything. Someone I knew was working in a field related to my father’s profession (engineering). Over drinks my friend and some associates were talking about how corrupt some of the businesses and its employees were. One of the more vocal, who had no idea of my friend’s association with my father, offered this observation. “There’s one guy who just can’t be bought — George Cranston.” The guys at the table agreed, some with obvious frustration. My friend relayed the story to my father. Dad modestly said, “that’s true” and then asked “what else did they say?” More curious about the less obvious than, as far as he was concerned, the non-negotiable.

Worried what others think about you? Don’t give them anything negative to say. Concerned your frienemies will make things up? Behave in such a way they, the public, never questions who is telling the truth. I’ve carried those lessons with me throughout my career. Without integrity and a pristine reputation, you are always questionable and up for discussion.

We all have responsibilities. In one of her more vocal moments, my younger sister announced she really didn’t want to do something related to school. My father who was not one to pontificate thoughtfully said, “Meg, I often have to do things that aren’t particularly fun or interesting, that’s because I have a responsibility to you, your brothers and sisters, and your mother.” Years later my sister related the story at a family gathering, noting it was a life’s lesson she was not quick to forget.

Yes, responsibility is one of the biggest burdens of rising through the ranks. The more people you lead, the more your actions and decisions affect them and their loved ones, and that is a very serious undertaking. If you’re not willing to take on those obligations, it’s time to step aside. If it’s the gratification of doing the right thing you are after — step up, speak up, and never put up.

My father would never be described as a born leader. What he loved about his profession was building things and solving problems, not managing or leading people. Like many smart individuals, leadership roles were thrust on him in the Navy and later in the firms he joined. I’m sure he stumbled at times but I doubt he ever fell. It’s my belief his strong sense of self, his reasonable needs and his unwavering sense of right and wrong made him a person employees wanted to follow and emulate. Did he have mentors, a few? Did he learn even more from the bad behavior of others, for sure? Could he have benefitted from more of the first and less of the latter, certainly? But, regardless of the missteps, the limited sponsorship, and the disreputable raiders, he succeeded and enhanced the success of a great many people as well as his own. More importantly, he passed those values on to his children. Thanks Papa!

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.