The pervasiveness of the current economic crisis, as well as the environmental crisis, the energy crisis, the educational crisis, the health care crisis, the looming social security crisis et cetera, are all screaming, “Something is terribly wrong!” How many even larger crises will we create before we finally face the real issue – lack of integrity!

Certainly, we need to respond and initiate programs that will rebuild confidence and restore credit availability. However, if all we do is “fix” symptoms without also confronting and actually dealing with the underlying cause – lack of integrity – any “solutions” forthcoming, regardless of the billions spent, predictably will be inadequate, short-lived and wasteful. Even more insidious, the crisis will only go underground, morph and assuredly return with ever-greater vengeance.

Integrity is the ability to respond, versus react, with needed action in the moment. It is being spontaneously response-able. It has nothing to do with imposing “righteous” rules, waiting for a “better time” or doing what is “popular”, “safe”, or “politically correct.” It is responsible action – Now!

There are no shades of grey with integrity. Though we may be generally people of integrity, at any particular moment, we do the right thing or we do not – we have integrity or we do not!

Man-made crises are always the result of lack of integrity. When we deny this, we forego our ability to do anything about it, become victims of our own irresponsibility, feel powerless and project blame onto others. The cycle deepens – the crises expand.

Our integrity is both the essence and the wholeness of who we are. It is vital to our growth and sense of well being/security. It directly relates to our level of emotional maturity and thus ability to contribute to the world and ourselves. It is the foundation of our values, principles and character, and therefore underlies all our attitudes and behaviors. Nothing is more important

Programs, policies and philosophies, as important as they may be, are secondary to our integrity. How often do we ignore this and support politicians/employers/associates, regardless of their integrity, because their “promised” (fill in the blank) would benefit our self-centered interests/concerns? These are the reactions of children, not the responses of emotionally mature/responsible adults. We need to grow up!

Acting with integrity, though regarded by many as naïve/impractical, is vital to realizing our fuller potential. Not doing what we know is right, no matter how “justified,” always has limiting and hurtful consequences – no exceptions. As “inconvenient” or “politically incorrect” as it may be, it is imperative that we confront the fundamental issue of the lack of integrity.

There are no innocents here. Less we forget, everything we do does have an effect, positive or negative, on the whole of which we all are a part. Our actions do matter. All of us, whether by our ignorance, indifference, greed or cowardice, have contributed to this crisis.

We are upset with Wall Street and the politicians and they certainly appear to have a significant role in creating/contributing to this situation. However, they are our “representatives” – a reflection of us. They could not exist without our complicity in one form or another.

Responsibility always starts at home. Addressing the issue of holding those irresponsible accountable, is both appropriate and necessary. However, of senior importance is the creation of environments where assuming greater individual responsibility is encouraged, expected, honored and rewarded.

We need to look at those issues we have been complaining about and/or waiting for someone else to handle and sincerely ask, “What can I do, how can I help, how can I contribute?”

If we as individuals are not willing to assume greater levels of personal responsibility, then “responsibility” becomes little more than an exercise in irresponsible finger pointing. Nothing of substance changes and the crises magnify.

If we, and our representatives, can honestly look at how we rationalized not doing what needed being done, how we, directly or indirectly, contributed to or allowed the current situation, we will have begun the process of moving toward greater responsibility - and its companions, personal empowerment and emotional maturity.

Then and only then, will we be in a position to make truly positive transformational change. This is the source of personal fulfillment. This is the essence and measure of great leadership.

The world needs mature leaders, at all levels and occupations that demonstrate integrity and proactively create environments where integrity is, in fact, the standard and the priority. Our emotional maturity/integrity, not our social/political persona, is the single most reliable indicator and predictor of our intention, honesty, courage, willingness and ability to see the big picture, be fair and equitable, make the tough calls and deliver what we promise.

We need to assess the presence of integrity in ourselves and in whom we choose or allow to lead us. Society’s emphasis on appearance, often at the expense of substance, and the pretences and facades that such emphasis encourages, pose significant challenges to that assessment.

The consistent extent to which any entity – individual, group, organization, political administration, society, or culture – demonstrates presence, authenticity, compassion and accountability provides a strong indication of that entity’s level of emotional maturity, i.e., responsibility – precisely what integrity is.

Let us use this crisis to confront our avoidances and be more consciously responsible for our choices including with whom we associate and support. The planet’s well-being depends on the integrity we live NOW!

Author's Bio: 

Edward E. Morler, MBA, PhD

Dr. Morler is CEO of Morler International, an executive training firm specializing in helping to create emotionally mature environments where integrity is indeed integrated with bottom-line sustainability. His principal areas of focus/application are leadership development and negotiation skills training. Dr. Morler’s clients have included dozens of Fortune 500 companies ranging from AT&T to Wells Fargo Bank. See In addition to extensive work in the United States, he has conducted negotiations and/or training/coaching in Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, the People’s Republic of China, Singapore, and Thailand.

Dr. Morler is also Co-founder and acting CEO of the Sonoma Consulting Group (SCG) whose specialized purpose is to significantly reduce client procurement costs. By integrating supply-side expertise with a disciplined approach to implementing sophisticated negotiation skills, SCG is able to generate bottom-line results unique in the procurement arena. See

Additionally, Dr. Morler is Host of What We Need to Know, a radio talk show whose purpose is to expand awareness of those arenas that significantly affect our lives but about which we, often, tend to know little - from issues of personal empowerment to developing environments of integrity. See

Dr. Morler has lectured extensively on the vital importance of developing greater levels of responsibility: personal, organizational, governmental and societal. He is the author of the award-winning book,* The Leadership Integrity Challenge: Assessing and Facilitating Emotional Maturity and its sequel Finally Growing Up: Living an Authentic Empowered Life, Finalist for Psychology Book of the Year. He is currently co-authoring two books - Developing Emotionally Mature Organizations: A Leader’s Guide with author and management trainer, Kathy Eckles. and The New Debtor’s Prison: Good People/Bad Credit with banker Robert Booth. Soon to follow will be The Integrity-based Negotiator: Needed More than Ever.

Prior to founding Morler International, Inc., in 1978, Dr. Morler was a management consultant for Fry Consultants, Inc.; Director of Administrative Services, Air Line Pilots Association; Special Consultant to the Department of Labor; Executive Vice President of Sidney A. Fine Associates; and Senior Trainer for Effective Communication Skills, Inc. He served as a U.S. Naval Officer for four years in the Far East, Mediterranean, and Caribbean.

Dr. Morler received his B.S. from Illinois Institute of Technology, his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, and is a graduate of the University of San Diego’s Executive Management Program. He is certified in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Hypnotherapy and Thought Field Therapy (TFT). He is an Eagle Scout and has numerous biographical listings including Who’s Who in California and The International Who’s Who of Intellectuals. Dr. Morler is a Fellow of Executive Leadership International. He resides with his wife, De, in Sonoma, California.

*Winner – Self-Help Book of the Year – Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards
Winner – Best Business Book – Best Books Awards
Winner – Education Book of the Year - Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards
Winner – Best Educational/Academic Book – Fresh Voices Book Awards