In Compliance Messaging, Let’s Accentuate the Positive

spirit of positivity

The mindset of the entrepreneur is optimism. Entrepreneurs truly seek out the opportunity in every challenge and obstacle. I saw the pandemic prompt so many clients and other entrepreneurs work eagerly to answer the following question: “Well this sucks — how do I make money from it?!”

There’s much to be won by applying the same entrepreneurial spirit of positivity to compliance training.

A positive approach accentuates, within the content of the training, the chance to grow and profit from education and elevated behavior. LeadGood applied that approach to great effect, for example, in ESG and Digital Transformation training for corporate directors that we just helped build with NACD. Don’t think of these mega-trends as barriers, we emphasized; think of them as opportunities to do important things better and differentiate your organization in the marketplace, i.e., a way to profit.

A positive approach shows typical people doing the right thing and correctly following compliance protocols and processes. I think this gets to the heart of what most working adults actually want from compliance training. They (our audience) are less focused on, “What’s the right thing?” — they think they get that. What they want to know is, “How do you expect me, with all the time and competitive pressures I face, to actually DO the right thing?” They don’t want to hear about risks; they want recipes.

A positive approach to training normalizes constructive and compliant behavior. Hold this in contrast to what has been seen in typical anti-bias training which, studies have demonstrated, can counterproductively normalize biased behavior. It turns out that when learners see repeated examples of people doing the wrong thing, it leaves them with an unconscious and undesirable impression that everybody does the wrong thing. So show the right thing!

And a positive approach to training feels, well, positive. It’s good news, rather than the doom and gloom of risk and sanction. Just think of some of the risk-focused training you may have experienced and ask yourself, “Why would anyone want to complete this training?!”

Finally, while enjoying last week’s webinar from the new initiative APW, I realized another big advantage in compliance training that takes a positive approach. Opportunity-centric training can help to build a culture of wellness around compliance. It can reduce the inherent stress on the compliance team of focusing on wrongdoing and risks, and of being seen as the buzz kill squad. If Compliance is seen by the organization as a source of opportunity and good news, therefore, it can lead not only to a more compliant and healthy organizational culture; it can also lead to a healthier compliance team.

The Legacy of Masters

Twenty-one years ago: Tiger Woods wins his second Masters, and is awarded the Green Jacket from previous winner Vijay Singh. Photo AFP

Today is the 21st anniversary of Tiger Woods’ 2001 win at the Masters. Which means today I also mark the 21st anniversary of my father’s death.

Sylvan H. Meyer actually died on April 8, 2001, but to us his Yahrzeit is Masters Sunday, because Dad passed in his Georgia mountain home just an hour after he watched Tiger on TV win his second Green Jacket, and that was poetic in two ways.

The Masters was one of Dad’s favorite times and places. Starting in the 1940s, he and ten or so of his north Georgia buddies would travel across the state to spend Masters Week in Augusta. They called themselves the Chicken Pluckers. They’d rent a house, play golf most mornings, go to the tournament in the afternoons, and at nightfall asleep earlier than they meant to. They weren’t wealthy; they were Greatest Generation guys doing alright. My Dad cooked the dinners – which was amazing to me because he pretty much never cooked at home.

And in 1984, when I was in law school, one of the regular Chicken Pluckers couldn’t make it and I was invited to make the pilgrimage. It remains one of my most cherished memories – the staggering beauty of the course, the cordial chat of the players, a kitchen full of Ruffles and Pecan Sandies. I remember sitting with Dad behind the 14th green, in a lull between approach shots, when he softly suggested that I maybe ought to marry that girl I’d been dating. Unbeknownst to him, I had proposed to Tracy not 24 hours earlier – and the last 37 years have proven that Dad’s editorial opinion was, as usual, on the money.

His editorial opinions are the second part. Sylvan Meyer was the first Editor In Chief of the daily newspaper in Gainesville, Georgia, where I was born. Throughout the 50s and 60s, from our small city, he covered the Civil Rights movement and advocated and editorialized for integration. He was one of a cadre of Southern newspaper journalists – mostly Jewish – speaking up for the cause. They did so because it was right and just, but also I think out of loyalty to their region, to build a ”New South.”

Still, the legacy of segregation created some cognitive dissonance for Dad when it came to the Augusta National, something I feel again about my native state this spring. So when Tiger Woods became the first Black Man to win the Masters in 1997, it was a thrilling victory for my Dad. And when Tiger cemented his Augusta immortality by winning again and capping the “Tiger Slam” on that Sunday 21 years ago, well, maybe it felt to Dad like a vindicating time to close the loop.

Lee Elder receives the applause of fellow Masters Honorary Starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Photo from Golfweek.

In Dad’s honor (and yeah, because I love it), I religiously watch the Masters. And I smiled this week when Augusta National invited 86-year-old Lee Elder, who broke the color barrier at the Masters, to be the Honorary Starter at this year’s tournament. It was a small reassurance that the arc of the moral universe does indeed bend toward justice, but that our institutions may need a little love, help and patience to get there – from loyal critics like my Dad, and from those of us who work to guide our organizations to ethics, compliance, and doing the right thing.

Sometimes what we do to encourage people in our organizations to speak up works, and often it doesn’t. We’re discussing what makes that difference all this month on the Eight Mindsets Cohort, and sharing those lessons in the Eight Mindsets Podcast. I hope you’ll join, or listen to, the discussion.

Ethics Madness 2022!

ncaa soccer ball sports ethics madness 2022

I hereby swear and affirm, with actual knowledge of penalties for perjury, that we are in the midst of the best week of sports on the annual calendar. The NCAA men’s and women’s Final Fours. The Masters golf tournament. The end of the NBA regular season. The opening of the baseball season. (Slap, I even skipped the Oscars to watch the Saudi Grand Prix on DVR.)

So if you are a compliance educator/junkie, and a rabid sports fan, where does your mind go while watching all this wonder? That’s “Ethics Madness!

#EthicsMadness was born about 10 years ago, when LeadGood was young and I was searching for a professional excuse to spend a business afternoon watching the first-round games of March Madness. The idea: get some compliance buddies together and conduct a live blog during the games, where we could talk shop and talk hoop, commenting on the conduct of the games as frequently as we commented on the unfortunate cultural messages being sent by commercials and errant sports organizations.

For 2022, #EthicsMadness has moved to the podcast format and is the setting for a special “crossover“ episode of The Eight Mindsets podcast and the podcast “Greetings and Felicitations,“ a title hosted by Tom Fox through his well-known Compliance Podcast Network. We have recorded it, and posted it, and IMHO I think it’s a lot of fun.

In the podcast, Tom and I discuss the ethics and compliance takeaways from recent events in sports such as:

  • The debacle that was the ending of last year‘s Formula One season (procedural justice)
  • Russian figure skating in the international Olympic committee (Organizational reputation)
  • Women’s March Madness (gender equity and DEI)
  • Juwan Howard and the punch heard round the Big Ten (appropriate sanctioning and culture-building rituals)

Now join the madness! Check it out wherever you hear your podcasts.

Listen on Spotify:

Listen on Apple Podcasts:

Google Podcasts:

Article: Training And Communications That Encourage Reporting

Image of magazine article

For years, LeadGood has broken new ground on training and communications that moves the needle on reporting. Our bespoke courses, innovative approaches and hands-on consulting have helped many organizations and leaders — from the Fortune 100 to government to education — effectively foster a speak-up culture.

This new article by LeadGood President Jason Meyer and Amy McDougal, JD, CCEP, CA of CLEARESOURCES, LLC, published by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE), summarizes some of what we’ve learned.

For national panel, Meyer discusses our freedom to speak up in the current popular culture.

I’m a big supporter of being assertive and speaking up. I’m a former journalist in a family of journalists. I started out as a first amendment lawyer. And as a compliance professional I work to help businesses encourage speaking-up in their ranks, as a powerful tool for both operational and ethical excellence. (So I’m super proud of my new article on training that encourages reporting, written with Amy McDougal, JD, CCEP, CA for the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics.)

But I am not a big fan of terms like “cancel culture.” These days there are soap boxes aplenty. The issue is more, who is really listening? And is that talk seeking truth, or just victory? It’s complicated, right?

These were the topics I was proud to discuss with an insightful, civil and politically diverse panel that tried to get to the heart of our freedom to speak up in the current environment. The panel was presented by Thomson Reuters on March 25, 2021. This is the second time TR honored me with a request to talk about this critical topic.

Virtually excited for the 2020 Compliance and Ethics Institute

This week – Sept. 14-16 — Is the annual Compliance and Ethics Institute sponsored by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE), of which I am a proud member. I been on the faculty of the Institute for each of the last seven years, and I am not about to miss the #CEI this year just because the event is virtual. It’s a highlight of my year!

Here’s what I am talking about this year:

Monday, September 14, 5:00 PM CDT: “The Trouble with Moral Relativism”I’ll be leading an advanced discussion group at the SCCE Institute about the attitudinal trends represented in increasingly popular thoughts like, “It’s all good,” or “Who can tell – they’re all lying.” We’ll talk about whether this growing normative agnosticism creates unstable ground beneath the foundation of corporate compliance programs and any attempt at ethical leadership.

Tuesday, September 15, 10:15 AM CDT: “Speak-Up Success: Training and Communications to Truly Encourage Reporting and Reduce Retaliation.” – I will lead this workshop at the Institute, along with Amy McDougal and OSI’s Chris Cook about practical and effective ways to generate a Speak-up Culture.

And by the way: If my Compliance and Ethics Institute remarks sound interesting to you, then tune in to my next “Powering the Pandemic Pivot” webinar, Wednesday, September 24, 12:00 Noon ET, where I’ll try to share what I learn at this year’s Institute about fostering Company Culture.

Hope you can join us!

A Greeting Card for Businesses in the Time of Coronavirus

We have a timely present for your business or organization.

I was chatting last week with several of my good friends in the compliance sector: Nicole Rose of CreateTraining, the Australia-based education and training company that has produced several powerful animations for LeadGood clients; Richard Bistrong of CEO Front-Line Anti-Bribery LLC, the well-known anti-bribery consultant and speaker; and my frequent colleague and project partner Amy McDougal, JD, CCEP, of CLEAResources, a leading compliance program consultant. We share a deep belief, borne of professional experience, in the power of shared values to inspire people to do great things.

We found we also shared a desire to use what we do at work to somehow help organizations respond to the Coronavirus in a different, honest, but inspiring way — acknowledging that we are in it for the long-haul, and that for as long as it takes, we will have each others’ backs.

The result is this video, which we now offer to you to use as much as you want, however you see fit. Think of it as a video greeting card you can send to your teams, clients, and community. Consider yourself licensed to use it as you wish, to shorten it, to add your own message or logo, to make it yours – please distribute it as broadly as you’d like, just keep the credits at the end. (Nicole is happy to do edits, etc., if you wish, and even to change the voiceover from my voice to her Australian lilt.)

If you want to use this video and need help downloading the file, just contact me and I’ll be delighted to assist.

We hope this video helps your business say what you’re thinking to the people you care about, and and it helps us all stay steadfast.

People Power: A Greeting Card for Organizations to Share Some Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Goin’ Back… to SCCE

I’m excited and honored to have been asked once again by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics to serve on the faculty of its Annual Compliance and Ethics Institute, outside Washington DC.

On Tuesday morning, September 17, Amy McDougal and I will update and reprise our presentation on “Compliance by Contract – Drafting and Negotiating Terms for Peer-to-Peer Compliance.” (It was a big hit when we last did it a few years back.) When you negotiate a commercial contract that includes terms about compliance — whether with customers, contractors, vendors or suppliers — the right terms can boost your own C&E program, and the wrong terms can undermine it. So we’ll share our experiences as lawyers and compliance pros, exchange pitfalls and engage in facilitated exercises. The goal: getting everyone better at closing good deals that support great compliance programs

Then on Wednesday, September 18, I’ll be leading a workshop on Counseling Compliance in Small to Medium Sized Organizations. which make up 97% of US companies. We will explore the unique challenges (and opportunities) of compliance leadership in SMBs — and nonprofits and governments — where budgets and headcount are limited, processes informal, and executive power dominant. The workshop will take place from 10:15 to 11:45.

If you work in compliance or ethical leadership, you’ll get a real charge from the colleagues and camaraderie at #SCCEcei. Hope you can see it!

LeadGood Seminars and Sessions in 2018 (Thanks for Asking)

I am honored and excited to have once again been asked to present a double-shot of panels at the annual Compliance and Ethics Institute of the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, coming up in Las Vegas in October 2018.

On Sunday, October 21, I will co-lead a three-hour workshop on “Preventing harassment: can compliance ever succeed?” Joining me will be my frequent speaking partner and project colleague Amy McDougal of CLEAResources, LLC, and Susan A. Parkes, General Counsel & Vice President of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

It’s been 20 years since the Supreme Court rulings in Faragher and Ellerth made corporate anti-harassment efforts routine, yet there are more headlines than ever about blatant acts of harassment, especially among corporate and cultural leaders. Sharing research and our collective experience, this workshop will focus on training, policies and culture-building, to explore why we have failed in preventing harassment, where we have engaged, and how we can elevate behavior. One critical focus will be retaliation vs. a “speak-up” culture, including best practices for creating, maintaining, and getting management support for an Open Work Environment.

Then on Monday, October 21, Amy and I will return to present a discussion on “Counseling compliance in small to medium sized businesses.”

Businesses with under 100 employees make up 97% of US companies, and headlines show they are at least as prone to compliance-related failures as the Fortune 2000. But “SMBs” are unlikely to have a CCO or even GC. So the task of leading and counseling compliance falls to other professionals, including HR and outside counsel. In this panel, Amy and I will explore the unique challenges of compliance leadership in SMBs, where budgets may be limited, processes informal, and executive power dominant. We’ll share experiences, including ways to use regular operational processes as tools to promote compliance, and to use the strong culture in these companies to their ethical advantage.

The idea for this panel was inspired in part by the Charlie Rose episode, which even though it involves a major TV star, is really a failure of small business compliance. Rose’s production company had no HR department, only a executive producer who among other duties may have tended to enable rather than check her “CEOs” misconduct. Our hope is that this panel will be of particular appeals to HR professionals and the “compliance lawyer.”

I’m also very excited that I have been asked to moderate a panel at the upcoming UIDP26 Conference in San Jose, CA. UIDP is the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership, an organization that considers university-industry (U-I) relations and opportunities to develop new approaches to how academia and business can work together. The panel is entitled: “Ethics and Compliance 2018: a University-Industry Dialogue.“

From #MeToo to campus speech to AI to perceived conflicts of interest, concerns about ethics are now even more a part of daily life at companies, colleges and universities alike. For both sides, this concern is only more heightened when it comes to their partnerships with other institutions. (Who are your partners, and what do they appear to stand for?) In this panel, ethics and compliance professionals from academia and industry will share their respective points of view and current concerns. The goal will be for attendees to understand better not just what their partner needs their institution to do, but how it hopes they will do it.

If you are at any of these events, say hi!

Looking forward…

My Proposals for the 2016 #SCCEcei – What’s Your Fave?

I’m really excited about the three panel proposals I submitted last night to the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE), for its 2016 Compliance and Ethics Institute. Thanks to Amy Hutchens, JD, CCEP, Page Motes and Heather Powell for joining in.

Our proposed topics were:

  1. An advance workshop on drafting and negotiating contracts with compliance provisions — this would take the next step from the compliance contract panels that Amy and I did at the CEI in 2014 and this year.
  2. “The Good Reasons Why People Do the Wrong Things” — Exploring the frequent instances when people follow their own ethical code and choose to break rules. (Think about teachers or nurses following their deep ethic of care.) The lesson: it’s not just greed or “bad guys” that lead to misconduct.
  3. “Fostering a Speak-Up Culture: What Really Works” — Now more than ever, it’s critical for compliance professionals and business leaders to focus on what, objectively, has worked best to foster and maintain a culture in which people report suspected wrongdoing freely, constructively, and internally. So how do you make that happen?

I wish they’d let us do all three of them! So tell me, what’s your favorite?IMG_3426