Several recent entries on this blog – including those by Steve Cody, Bruce Harrison and Lynn Casey – have directed our attention to research on corporate leadership and to public attitudes toward it. As I’ve read these posts, I’ve been struck by the contrasts they present.

For instance, Steve Cody used a recent IBM survey of CEOs to point to the fact that despite talk about values such as trust and transparency, corporate leaders ultimately “remain driven by the immediate and insatiable needs of Wall Street.” Integrity too often is sacrificed.

On the other hand, Bruce Harrison’s praise for a recent speech by BP chief Robert Dudley (and the many comments Bruce’s post drew) reminds us that most people care deeply about the integrity of corporate leaders. As Lynn Casey’s blog entry, based on another recently published study, put it: “The most important skill for the top job? The ability to gain public trust as the face of the company.”

Where does that leave us? As an educator of many students who aspire to enter the “C-suite” someday as communication leaders, I believe integrity is always the imperative. And as we all know, that priority can – and must – co-exist with business goals of the CEO.

Arthur W. Page, the namesake of both this organization and the College’s research center for integrity in public communication here at Penn State, is case-in-point. Page’s principles powerfully acknowledge bottom-line priorities while recognizing that they cannot be sustained over time without commitment to trust and integrity.

If you haven’t done so recently, I hope you’ll visit the Page Center website to take a look at the transcripts of 38 of Page’s speeches we’ve posted there. Take a few minutes to read through a speech or two. Page could clearly articulate the ways honesty, transparency and respect are inextricably linked to the bottom line.

While you’re on the Page Center site, you may also want to take a look at our Oral History collection. You might spot some familiar names in our list of video interviews. The interviews are proving to be an increasingly valuable resource for a modern-day take on the Page Principles.

Douglas Anderson
Dean, College of Communications
The Pennsylvania State University