We got our hands on the proposal that the competitor was planning to submit and present.
In his email, our account manager directed those in his bid team (me included) to review and come up with a better solution, and counter all their arguments.
Before we had a chance to open the attachment, an email from our COO landed in our inbox, directing us to DELETE said email and all attachments.
His email said (I am paraphrasing):
If we win the bid, we win on merit, and on our integrity.
We do not need to ‘see what the other side is doing’ to be better.
We stand by our competence and our professional conduct.
Do not read, keep or forward that email.
In that one email, he taught me a stunning lesson in what it means to have integrity.
To do the right thing, even when no one’s watching.
Even when you have much to lose.
This was many years ago, and I do not remember if we won the bid, but I do remember this lesson on integrity with such clarity that it might as well have happened yesterday.
My decisions are driven by whether or not it clears my conscience.
On the off chance that I might one day run for Prime Minister, there shall be no skeletons in my closet for anyone to find. 😁
Except maybe that one time I ate all the watermelon 🍉 and told the kids that dad did it 😳
In my defence, it was really really sweet!