Take a walk down the hallways at MCI’s corporate headquarters and you’re apt to be greeted with posters that challenge: “Do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.” Employee badges also carry the “do the right thing” principle, and MCI President and CEO Michael Capellas has repeatedly stressed it in speeches and press conferences.
It’s all part of the company’s efforts to remake its image and change its corporate culture following a $9 million-plus accounting scandal that sent it to a history-making bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy court and Securities and Exchange Commission required MCI’s executive and financial employees—some 1,200 people—to undergo ethics training following the fiasco. But Capellas carried that order a step further and insisted that everyone in the company take the specially-designed course.
Today MCI’s Web site prominently displays its company values and guiding principles, which include charges related to trust and credibility, open and honest communication and upholding the law. The site also includes the company’s 23-page code of ethics and business conduct.
Only time will tell whether all the training and emphasis on doing the right thing will change the corporate culture. Getting people to do the right thing is, of course, much more complex than simply tacking motivational posters on a wall and requiring them to complete an ethics training course. But they certainly can’t do the right thing if they don’t know what right is. From all indications, however, MCI has taken deliberate and definitive steps for much-needed reforms.
Companies and corporations are not the only entities at risk for abandoning the values on which they were formed. The people of God can fall into lazy habits of ignoring God’s demands and living faithlessly and carelessly, too. It takes a strong leader to help them recover their values.
Josiah, the young king of Judah, faced a nation and culture with little or no idea about God’s expectations for right living. As repairs were being made to the temple, workers uncovered the “book of the law” (2 Kings 22:8). After Josiah heard it read, he personally repented and then purged the nation of idolatry, centralized worship in Jerusalem and led the people in a public renewal of their covenant with God.
His reform movement and attempts at leading the people to do the right things gained tremendous momentum when the lost scroll was uncovered. Hearing and understanding God’s requirements moved the people to change. After years of neglecting their history and heritage, they repented and determined to do the right things.
Leaders must sometimes do unpopular things that cause their people to grumble and complain, question and challenge. The best leaders consistently do what is right and guide their people in right living, too. By projecting a consistent example personally, they bridge the gap between themselves and those they lead and form a team that shares a common vision and values.
Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.