Archive for the ‘Business Ethics’ Category

Plagiarism Goes Beyond Intellectual Dishonesty

Yesterday a colleague, Mark Hunter, came across one of his articles being plagiarized by a fairly well connected LinkedIn member.  He notified a group of other sales coaches, sales consultants and colleagues about this plagiarism.  The group responded and not even 24 hours later, this particular article as well as all other articles under this person’s name were removed.

plagiarismI too have suffered from plagiarism.  A sales training company in Texas took one of my website pages one for word and copied it to their own website.  When I notified the CEO, he called and said he was unaware, apologized and the copy was removed. The CEO blamed the web designer. Over the years I have discovered other blog postings copied and have called out the authors.

Individuals who plagiarize the intellectual capitol of others demonstrate from more than dishonesty within their business ethics.  They also reveal they are lazy, lack creativity and are stupid to think eventually they will not be caught.

A recent study by the University of Missouri revealed the financial impact of dishonesty by CEOs. Unethical behavior does translate to the bottom line to a measurable 4.1% loss in shareholders’ value.

In today’s social selling world where content marketing has become a viable sales leads generating channel, being a plagiarist just does not make good business sense.  The reason is simple, in spite of how large the world is, it is still a small world.  People are connected to other people.  Software programs can find duplicate content with the stroke of a few keys.

One of the more simple ways to avoid even unintentional plagiarism is to Google the title for any content marketing in quotes.  This way the you can quickly determine if another person has written a similar article. Also this same tactic can be used to learn if your titles are being plagiarized by someone else.

In sales, people buy from people they know and trust.  Swiping the intellectual capital of others will not increase sales.

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Don’t Look Now Your Real Leadership Ethics Are Showing

Funny how a simple action can reveal the real leadership ethics of an individual. Let me explain.



Earlier this week a colleague received a completely unfair review of his book on Amazon. This anonymous reviewer (presuming to be a sales professional and probably sales trainer) focused on one sentence in this 240 page excellent book.

The reason for this focus was because the nameless reviewer believed one sentence plagiarized the intellectual capital of another published author. This other author had also sold his or her own sales training system.

Several people who knew the author responded and the reviewer acknowledged those responses. However in his or her acknowledgement, he or she attempted to still justify focusing on just one sentence while ignoring the other hundreds of sentences. Additionally, this person never addressed being challenged about hiding behind a pseudonym.

What the reviewer failed to recognize was how his or her review showcased his or  her lack of leadership ethics by attempting to demean another sales professional out of jealousy not out of ethical concerns.

Many of us have experienced professional jealousy along the way. Our personal leadership ethics including integrity have been challenged or attacked because someone didn’t like what we said.

Years ago I was challenged by another leadership coach who believed because I was not certified by some organization I was not a legitimate executive coach. Even though I told her the results my clients achieve is my certification, she insisted I was being unethical in calling myself a coach.

Read How Certification Does Guarantee Ethical Leadership

For me to stay true to my leadership ethics, I am consciously aware of Socrates Three Filters.

  • Is what you say kind?
  • Is what you say truthful?
  • Is what you say necessary?

For example in writing this blog, I did not name the persons involved because to take that action would not be kind nor necessary.

What we may always wish to consider is others can see our real leadership ethics in our behaviors. Using Socrates Three Filters may help us stay the course in our day to day ethical behaviors.

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The Sales Challenge of Living by Socrates’ Three Filters

Socrates as many know was a Greek philosopher. He created the Socratic Dialog which many in sales find very effective during exploring sales meetings and fact finding sessions. Socrates also developed the Three Filters which is just as important. However living by these three filters does present an ongoing sales challenge.

sales-challengeIf you are not familiar with the Three Filters, they are all about how you communicate with others as well as reinforce your own business ethics and emotional intelligence.

Is What you Say Kind?

We know words can hurt people feelings and create an atmosphere ranging from hostility to resentment. In sales especially when we are out and about, remembering to be kind in our remarks is essential. Kindness reflects emotional intelligence.

Is What You Say Truthful?

When speaking with others or even making comments, is what you say truthful.  This filter returns to the human nature of gossiping or even not validating what has been said.  Additionally by applying emotional intelligence we can be truthful without being judgmental.  Some people view telling the truth as being judgmental as “You should not say that.”

Is What you Say Necessary?

Probably for many, myself included, this third filter is the most challenging.  How many times do we speak too much during a sales conversation instead of actively listening?

We all enjoy getting our two cents in whether it is a professional or personal conversation. Here is where our ego sometimes takes over.

Socrates Three Filters is one sales challenge we confront every day.  Living consistently by these three filters is not easy.

Yesterday I had remembered Socrates wise words when being confronted by a very rude commuter passenger. Instead of engaging in non-productive conversation, I removed myself to another seat. This particular individual was 100% clueless about professional etiquette. She believed a particular train seat had her name on it along with her two companions.

In this world of people meeting people because people buy from people, one never knows who is watching.  By understanding the depth of this particular sales challenge can only strengthen one’s professional and personal business ethics, emotional intelligence and ultimately sustainable business growth.

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The Good Samaritan Is Today’s Top Sales Performer

Yesterday in church, I listened to the New Testament story of the Good Samaritan. Most people religious or not religious have heard this story or similar stories.  Upon further reflection I recognized some similarities between the good Samaritan and a top sales performer.

top-sales-performerSales is all about people who have needs and wants. In some cases, they (sales leads) have been left by the side of the road much like the person in the New Testament story. They were left because their needs could not be addressed by other salespeople or the other salespeople felt the sales leads were not worthy of their attention.

A top sales performer is willing to help others who need assistance without thinking about his or her own rewards. These individuals do not have a quid pro quo mindset. Now depending upon his or her schedule, the salesperson will give some of his or her time to answering questions and generally helping the person in need. They may also offer additional resources.

If we believe some of the research regarding sales statistics, the super majority of successful sales are made after the third contact. Unfortunately the vast majority of salespeople stop at the third contact.

Top sales performers will continue to reach out to their sales leads and nurture the sale to its fruition.  Even if the sales leads are not 100% qualified, these salespeople know they have made a friend and eventually this friendship will be of benefit.

Beyond the needs of the sales leads, a top sales performer has positive core values, high business ethics as demonstrated by the Good Samaritan. He or she is not viewed as a “shyster.”

No, the ethical salesperson is viewed with positive and warm feelings.  As President Teddy Roosevelt said “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

If people buy from people they know and trust, being a Good Samaritan only reaffirms those feelings of knowing and trusting. The questions for you are:

  • Are your behaviors similar to the Good Samaritan?
  • Who have you helped even at your own expense recently?
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Sometimes It Makes Sense to Cut Off One’s Nose to Spite One’s Face

Most of us have heard the old adage about “cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face.”  This is statement is used to describe needlessly selfish behavior.

cut-off-one's-nose-to-spite-one's-faceA conversation yesterday had me realize that sometimes this behavior is not necessarily needlessly selfish and makes sense.

For example, I have very strong beliefs about the word leadership.  When local communities create “leadership institutes” or “leadership universities” they are for the most part business to business networking opportunities for local leaders (B2B owners, salespeople) to meet other local leaders.  From my perspective this is not leadership.

In the book Fail-Safe Leadership, I was exposed to Drucker’s definition of leadership “is all about results.”   Since that time, I have amended leadership to be the “ability to secure sustainable results through the demonstration of positive core values.”  

Since I have this very strong belief about leadership, I have avoided joining several local leadership groups because for me it is glorified business to business networking.  By becoming a graduate of these groups, I believe I am violating my own personal and positive core values.  Of course I probably could have earned some business and I accept that loss of business.

Personal Note:  My Values Index has being independent at the top of the scale and this might also help to explain my aversion to these groups.  I truly do not like following the crowd.

However is sacrificing one’s positive core values just to increase sales a valid reason to join these types of leadership groups?  I think not.

Maybe that is part of the problem with business today, the wink and the nod behavior respective to our ethics.  People join groups knowingly not liking the organizer or the purpose, but justify it because they will increase sales.

I do believe in creating authentic relationships and not just schmoozing or becoming another business lemming.  Some have asked me why I haven’t joined these groups? My response is “they do not fit into my strategic plan.”

Yes sometimes it makes sense “to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face” when non-negotiable business ethics or positive core values are in place.

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Living Your Personal and Corporate Values

Earlier this week I received a Christmas Letter from a local small business owner. What was interesting is this letter reflected both his personal values as well as the corporate values.



Today with so many fearing offending a potential customers (translation means losing a potential sale because you made an enemy), this small business owner had no such fear. He wrote the following:

“…cannot protect us from tragedies such as what happened at San Bernardino. May this be a reminder that as we celebrate Christmas, we turn to the one who Christmas is all about, who created us and upon whom we can find comfort and hope!

The letter was signed by all 14 employees.

Sharing such a sentiment does reflect the corporate values of this small business.  I know the small business owner is a practicing Christian and an active participant in the local community.

What this letter suggested to me is this business leader has courage.  He is not afraid of sharing his personal values and showing those values are also embedded into his workplace culture.

Possibly if more small business owners shared their personal values along with their corporate values then maybe some of the unethical behaviors and practices might be reduced.  The quote I shared yesterday again is appropriate:

“You have enemies? Good. That means you‘ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Sir Winston Churchill

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Another Blinding Flash of the Obvious in Sales

The top sales performers I know, know “telling ain’t selling.”  They also know something that others in sales fail to embrace – Values.

salesYesterday in listening to a friend share his experience about selling some real estate, I once again realized the importance of positive core values (business ethics) when it comes to sales.  He was sharing how he sold some property and a realtor verbally accosted him about not giving his firm an opportunity to sell the real estate.  The problem was the realtor sat on his not for profit board at the time and it would have been unethical.

Here in the Midwest, the Chicago Public Schools Corporation is facing some legitimate scrutiny respective to a no-bid contract by its former CEO.  Given that all executives and board members sign conflict of interest statements, what happened at CPS is truly an ethics violation that had serious legal ramifications.

Salespeople have a higher obligation to be ethical. The reason is simple sales drives the revenue.

If revenue is received under false pretenses, everyone in the organization suffers.

Maintaining a high ethical standard sometimes is difficult especially because of demands by sales management to personal financial choices.  This is quite true for some small business owners who must maintain some cash flow.

Turning down sales hurts. Yet accepting sales that are not a good fit or that are earned under false pretenses hurts far more.

In the book I wrote several years ago Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits, the second chapter was all about personal business ethics or values.  When working with sales coaching clients, the first action we take together is to work on their purpose and value statements. Having crystal clarity about one’s personal business ethics is essential to business growth because people buy from people they know and trust. If you want to be a top sales performer, then make sure you have crystal clarity about your personal ethics and never, ever compromise them because when you do, you have lost more than the sale you just gained.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 1-219-508-2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Life Is Too Short to Plagiarize the Works of Others

Believe it or not, there are professionals who plagiarize the works of others.  One would think given the connectivity of the Internet, such individuals would realize they will get eventually caught.



One of my colleagues, S. Anthony Iannarino, was notified by someone reading this blog and engaging in some other research there was a sales trainer who had posted Iannarino’s on LinkedIn Pulse without giving Iannarino credit. In fact, this sales trainer replaced Iannarino’s byline with his own.

Unfortunately, this sales trainer did not realize his effort to plagiarize the works of others would unleash a firestorm of negative comments.  Now there are at least 50 people who know this person to be a fraud and a liar.  His other 200 plus posts on LinkedIn Pulse will be scrutinized as well as other Internet websites.

After 48 hours, this sales trainer did take down this plagiarized work.  However it would not have happened if Iannarino had not been informed nor had his community of colleagues not become involved.  I will add the comments on this LinkedIn Pulse article were scathing yet still very professional.

The Internet allows for a plethora of ideas and content.  It also provides unfortunately for opportunists to confiscate the intellectual property of others.  Plagiarism has always been with us as a society and it appears will continue to be with us.

My colleague is not the first person to suffer from such unprofessional and unethical behavior.  Thankfully he has built a community of ethical and professional colleagues who will come to his defense and the defense of other members within this strong community.

Most of us within this community have had our posts, blogs or articles plagiarized a little or a lot.  I guess when individuals lack core personal ethics as reflected by their business ethics plagiarizing the works of others is done without thinking. Maybe they think given there is so much content on the Internet, no one will catch them.

Those who plagiarize the works of others are like folks who get do-do on their tongues. Their mouths now need to be washed out with soap.  Having a strong community of professional colleagues who are more than willing to provide the soap helps in this task of mouth washing really helps.

As this posting began, life is too short to plagiarize the works of others.  So be careful and if you must quote someone or something, include the person, the website or publication.  By taking this action you actually demonstrate your business ethics and personal ethics while elevating your status in the eyes of your readers.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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The Collision of Workplace Culture and Business Ethics

Small business owners work very hard to maximize their profit dollars.  Yet all of their efforts sometimes seem to be to no avail when workplace culture collides with business ethics.



Part of the reason for this collision lies within this one word – assumption. Leaders of small businesses assume everyone knows how to behave.  Of course this may also explain why so many business owners are frustrated with the lack of work ethics.

Business ethics and work ethics share this word of ethics for a particular reason. Ethics is about character.  Your character is observed in your behaviors.  A culture is the collective behaviors of all individuals be it a small business (workplace) to a local community government.

When business ethics are not clearly articulated and shared this provides an opportunity for a “wishy washy” or “do as I say and not as I do” to “anything goes” workplace culture. The end results if a culture of corruption as well as chaos.

For example, if everyone thinks it is okay to leave a mess in the kitchen; to eat the candy of others; to work with dirty hands; or to speak ill of someone else, their actions demonstrate these behaviors are accepted within the workplace culture. Until someone consistently stops these poor business ethics, there will still be poor employee engagement, productivity and worse yet profitability.

Each day business people are exposed to this culture of corruption from people lying about having only one smart device to identify theft in the workplace to abuse of power from lobbyists to government employees.  And yet many of these same small business owners fail to realize their are unintentionally contributing to this culture of corruption because they have not invested the time to put to writing their business ethics.

Even with those who have value statements of business ethics many fail to enforce these accepted behaviors.  We still hear about workplace gossip to allowing under productive employees to remain while forcing more productive employees to do even more work.

And worse yet in spite of having more laws, rules and regulations than ever before about how to behave on the job, there seems to be more collisions of workplace culture and business ethics.  Unfortunately, government cannot legislate morality as evidenced by prohibition.  What leaders in business can do is lead by example through their behaviors.

P.S. If you want to read more about this, then check out From Values to Action, a great book on how to lead and unite business actions with ethics.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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Values Are Never Gray

Values or business ethics are in the news a lot these days from Whole Foods actually selling products with GMOs to the pizzeria in Indiana that was asked a hypothetical question.

valuesIn a social media discussion, one person mentioned that in business, not everything is black or white, there is some gray.

I responded “Values are never gray.”

When working with small business coaching clients, I begin by assessing their decision making styles.  Within this assessment, there is some hint of their business ethics respective to the following:

The next two steps are:

  1. Define the purpose of why you are in business
  2. Define the vision you see for the company

Now many will business coaches will jump into mission statement. I believe this is a miss step, a real big and even fatal miss step. This is the time to discuss values, that being those non-negotiable behaviors everyone will demonstrate as they work together to achieve the vision.  These behaviors are black, white or gold, but never gray.

When I wrote the book Be the Red Jacket in the Sea of Gray Suits, the Keys to Unlocking Sales Success, the second chapter was about values.  I described values as the threads that hold your jacket (think sales role or even small business) together. Additionally I added this point:

“When you don’t know your values, you are just another gray suit.”

Purpose statements, vision statements and mission statements will change as the times change. However, values statements never change.  Your business ethics will always be your business ethics.  Sometimes, individuals and businesses will discover new core values and these can be added, but never deleted.

If you are truly serious about being an ethical business, then your behaviors respective to your core values require alignment and congruency. You and your people must be personally accountable for yours and theirs behaviors. Executive leadership must enforce these business ethics such as ensuring “water cooler” gossip is 100% prohibited.

Yes, what separate great businesses from good business is how they believe all people should act. And accepting that:

Values are never gray.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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