One time I told this story in a speech. After my speech, an executive vice president of a large bank came up to me and said, "I've had a similar experience. I visited a branch bank and was served by one of the tellers. The service was so poor that I complained to the department head about the woman who served me. Most department heads are so awed by my very presence that they can hardly even deal with me. But this department head said, 'I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience. She's such a fine person. Let's call her in and talk this through together. Maybe you can tell her directly what your experience was.'"
The VP then said to the department head, "No, go ahead and handle it. I just wanted you to be aware. I don't want to get involved." But the department head said to this executive VP, "Well I know that if it were me, I'd want to get involved. If you were this teller, wouldn't you want to be involved?" Imagine the courage it took for this department head to deal with the executive vice president of the bank in that direct, truthful manner. The answer was so self-evident: "Yeah, I guess I would." "Well, then, let's call her in." So she came in, and they dealt with it. The person received the feedback, and it was handled in a responsible way.
The vice president then told me, "Later when we were trying to select a president for one of our branch banks, I nominated this department head totally on the basis of that experience, because I knew if he would have such courage, honesty, and loyalty to someone who wasn't there in the face of a highly positioned individual, he would handle other matters with integrity. So I nominated that person to be the new president without knowing anything more about him."
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