I read an article recently that discussed all of the words or statements the author thought should absolutely not be in a corporate values statement.  Among the list of "don't " words was "Integrity". According to the author, and rightfully so, companies (and individuals) are expected to act with integrity, so proclaiming to everyone that you operate with integrity isn't really saying anything at all.  It's the corporate equivalent of Chris Rock's joke about the father who proudly states "I take care of my kids" to which Chris Rock replies (with many more expletives) "you're supposed to!". Needless to say, the article made many good points.

"Integrity First" has long been a value statement at Link Management, and we even went so far as to put it on our business cards.  After reading this article, then looking at our business cards, we clearly had some soul searching to do. Are we really saying anything at all by proclaiming that we put Integrity First? What are we really communicating by stating that?

After some soul searching and discussion, Integrity First remains prominently displayed on our promotional materials. 

The first order of business is defining what we mean by integrity. Integrity means not only acting in accordance with strong moral principles, but also the state of being whole and undivided. 

A person (and organization) with integrity will make mistakes, (because they are or act through humans) however, having integrity means acknowledging the mistakes and being accountable for them.

Here's why.

1. Integrity First does differentiate us from others within the agency industry. Not all others. There are fantastic individuals and organizations within the industry, that do conduct themselves with professionalism and high ethical standards. Unfortunately, the ones who don't are far from rare.  The news is rife with examples of agents providing or facilitating illicit payments, skirting regulations, and outright breaking laws. Those are just the tip of the iceberg of the ones who are caught.

2. We put integrity first in how we operate. This means scrutinizing each decision we make to ensure it not only meets the base level requirements of the regulations imposed by the various leagues we are associated with (even those rules and regulations we may disagree with), but also our own ethical standards beyond that. We look forward to the day when this is the norm.

3. It describes our approach to athlete identification and recruitment. A major component of our athlete identification and vetting process focuses on the character of the player, separate and apart from the player's performance in their sport. We put integrity before raw talent.

4. It describes our approach to athlete development. A big part about what makes us different as an agency is the degree to which we are involved in the development process of our athletes. That is why we have Dan Leffelaar, Director of Life Skills and Mental Performance on staff and why Life Skills comes before Mental Performance in his title.  We believe that fostering the development of our athletes both in and out of their sport will lead to a well rounded and ultimately successful person.  

So with those points, our business cards remain emblazoned with Integrity First.

- Jordan Bierkos, Managing Partner

Jordan Bierkos