In April I had a phone conversation with the new exec of an organization that had retained my services for several years. In addition to congratulating him, I wanted to assess his awareness of the money they owed me.

He knew. He shared his intention to make me whole along with others to whom they were indebted. He also said it would take time. He suggested we meet this fall after he settled into his job. This week I took him up on his invitation.

We had lunch and an engaging exchange. It is evident that he has a grasp on the challenges and has a thoughtful plan for turning the organization around. It seems to be working.

Mid way through our conversation he pulled out a print out of all my invoices, payments made and the amount owed me. I confirmed. He then handed me an envelope with a check for an installment on the balance due.

Elation was my mood on the drive home. Certainly the money is welcome. Perhaps more significant is the fact that he was true to his word. Integrity is one of my top values. I believed in the organization and had invested in it during a difficult period. He believes in making good on his promise to improve the company’s financial health and retire its debt. In doing so he conveys a core value of leadership for himself, the organization and its stakeholders.

What a contrast to so much that goes on today in relationships, business and politics, where truth is often the victim of the quest to put “me” first and “the other” down. In defining who we are and what others can expect from us, our word may be our most treasured gift.