It's hard to reach the 90th percentile in anything, of course, and honesty is no different.
So when we ran across one of those exceptional individuals, we wanted to have a word with him.
A global controller of a professional services firm of more than 40,000 employees, he'd just participated in a 360-feedback process where he'd been assessed by his manager, peers, and direct reports on 16 leadership competencies. And he'd hit that elusive 90th percentile mark on his ratings for honesty and integrity. Explaining just what a difficult feat it is to receive feedback marks that remarkably high, we asked him: "What is your secret?" After all, it's not like in his role he hadn't confronted his share of temptation or hard trade-offs.
"It all starts with my boss and his boss," he replied. "If there is a line for honesty and integrity, they don't want to be close to it. Instead, they insist there be nothing questionable with any transaction. If there is a liberal interpretation of an accounting principle, they will always take the conservative route. It's never hard for me to insist on unquestionable honesty, because they set the bar."