Open Letter to Business Leaders

June 2009

Hello business leader,

The most admired business leaders continually demonstrate the highest level of ethical behavior in both words and actions. Leaders talk about ethical performance, leaders speak out when things seem to be headed the wrong way and leaders encourage the highest standards of ethical behavior from everyone on the team.

We all face ethical dilemmas in life – I have certainly faced my fair share. Our decisions should always be within the law and follow the basic rules set forth by business and our organizations. But it is not just about following the rules and obeying the law – it is about doing what is really right. Even when you think no one is watching.  You must feel comfortable with each of your decisions.

Integrity is defined as adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character, and honesty.  Whether you are leading a team, or raising a family, your personal integrity ultimately defines who you are, and what you stand for.

The recent financial events impact virtually all of us in both our professional and personal lives.  Much of the meltdown can be attributed to a lack of common sense coupled with ethical lapses. Certainly, no one wanted to wind up in the mess we find ourselves in today.  Let’s hope we are now on the road to recovery.

The purpose of this letter is to remind us all about the importance of personal integrity in all we do no matter the outside influences. It is also to remind you that our capitalist economic system is the world’s greatest wealth generator and has a historic and natural process of boom and bust cycles. We will emerge from this cycle, like all others, stronger than ever.


Joe Scarlett,
Retired Chairman of Tractor Supply Company
Founder of the Scarlett Leadership Institute

Comments and Discussion:

Related Subject

Posted May 7, 2010 at 9:58 AM by Ken Nevar
Good morning Joe. I enjoy all your writings, and admire you greatly for what you are doing. On this particular subject, I would suggest that you tell people to get hold of a copy of a book entitled "Winners Never Cheat" written by Jon M. Huntsman and published by Wharton School Publishing. It reinforces the importance of personal integrity that you talk about. It's a quick and easy read, written by a man who actually built his fortune on the principles we should all strive to uphold.


Posted Mar 27, 2010 at 8:15 PM by Grant Cole
Joe - You always kept your managers on the straight and strait path. Your words still resonate today as I supervise my shift at a chemical plant warehouse. Much gratitude for helping to build a strong rudder of ethics.

Your Letter

Posted Oct 21, 2009 at 3:52 PM by Bud D'Avella
Joe -- Very well said, and worth saying. Ethics should be a part of who we are -- not necessarily something we have to think about -- and should always be evident in the way we do business. Bud D'Avella

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