Greg Smith, Goldman Sachs and Courage

In this week’s episode of the CBS drama, The Good Wife, a lead character is chastised by a subordinate with the line, “It’s a tough economy for integrity.”  The line stopped me in my tracks because I believe it to be true. 

Any serious business person has read or heard of the now infamous public resignation letter by former Goldman Sachs employee, Greg Smith.  I had several thoughts when reading the letter.  My first thought was “How bad could it have been that he went to the press, instead of just resigning?”  My second thought was “Good advertising for him creating his own fund.”  My third, “He must have made enough money never to need to work again so he finally had the courage to do what he should have done sooner.” 

Then my last initial thought was, “What skill would he have had to develop personally that would have given him the strength to stand up to the practices he felt were out of integrity, and possibly see the company change?”  Again the word courage came to my mind. I would like to recommend that Greg read Bill Treasurer’s Courage Goes to Work. 

Don’t get me wrong, I actually believe every word Greg Smith wrote.  I equally believe that his letter will have little impact on how Goldman Sachs operates in the short term.  The reason is, as Greg mentioned, clients don’t stay if they don’t make money. 

Goldman’s largest clients actually support Goldman’s practices because they are making money.  The clients suffering loses are generally smaller, less ‘important’ clients.  Unless someone gives those clients proof they were knowingly sold products that that would harm them, they have nowhere to turn but to quietly exit the closest door.  Supplying that information would have taken courage. 

I really am not trying to second guess a person or situation about which I have no real knowledge other than what I have read.  Yet, yesterday someone recommended another book that Greg might have found useful, Three Signs of a Miserable Job, by Patrick Lencioni.

I will watch with interest what comes of Greg Smith and Goldman Sachs’ practices.

To courage, Andrea
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Andrea Goeglein, Ph.D.
About the author

Andrea Goeglein is part organizational psychologist, part entrepreneur, and all about success—your success. She understands both the pressures you face and the dreams that inspire you. Andrea merges her experience as a business owner with her training in Positive Psychology to provide effective, efficient and challenging personal development products and services. She combines an emphasis on objective assessment with an approach that is always powered by your spirit and guided by your goals. Her professional development offerings are based in theory and backed by direct business knowledge.

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