Integrity and Expectations

Michael Greeley’s post today “When a Unicorn Stumbles…” describes the ups and ups and downs and ups of unicorn ventures.

Zenefits is mentioned as an example of how the “up” may sometimes nose-over to a “down” quickly. In the Zenefits case he highlights, insurance regulators are looking into whether employees were licensed to sell group insurance products. Of course, it is for the regulators to determine what actually happened here. The claim is corners were cut in the interest of achieving big growth targets.

It should remind us that “Integrity” which so often headlines company values, is not a passive concept. Leaders must go out of their way to find examples, make examples, and promote examples of those who do the right thing, and those that cut corners. Weak or strong, the signals are there. My lesson learned on matters like this is to move swiftly, use data, and be candid, in a respectful way, about what has happened and how we are to act in matters that may cross a line.

Michael goes on to point out that many companies experience this “down” before having implemented sustainable practices. He illustrates his point in an elegantly simple way:

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.59.50 PM

Is there always this heartache of a big fall before sustainable growth is achieved? I would hope not if:

  1. There is true value in the offering
  2. Leadership and investors are honest about and agree upon a set of achievable expectations
  3. The company lives up to a set of values… every day

Expectation setting whether with customers, with investors, or with employees, teammates, and partners is an essential ingredient to sustainable success. Setting expectations is also an everyday activity just like integrity; we can not be too skilled at finding expectations, making (setting) expectations and promoting expectations.


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