Ethical Edge

By Russell Williams

Ethical Edge

Servant Leadership

The Ethical Edge
The Art of Integrity


“Whatever you do, do with INTEGRITY.
Wherever you go, go as a LEADER.
Whomever you serve, serve with CARING.
Whenever you dream, DREAM with your all.
Curt Carlson, CEO, The Carlson Companies


I worked for The Carlson Companies, a large privately-held holding company, early in my career, but I never met Curt.  However, the values stated in his quote resonated with me and I hoped someday to work for someone who shared these values.  I found that person in Ronald Stone, my boss and CFO at Pioneer Electronics.

When I joined Pioneer as Assistant Controller in 1992, I was still rather green with a lot to learn about business.  Just a little over a year after I joined the company, my boss who reported to Ron, left the company. Very soon Ron stopped by my office. I thought he was coming to tell me he was starting a search to replace my boss.  Instead, Ron said, “I’m going to promote you to Controller and, if you do well, I’ll promote you to Vice President in a year.”  I had not worked with Ron directly at that point, so I asked, “What does ‘do well’ mean?”  He said, “Become a businessman because accountants are a dime-a-dozen!”  Then he walked out leaving me to stare at the wall like a ‘deer caught in the headlights’…but not for long.

Ron was not like CFO’s I had experienced previously.  He was an extremely capable CFO and an astute businessman, but soon I learned he was also a terrific mentor.  Ron did not expect me to become a ‘businessman’ on my own.  His approach did not allow me to wade slowly into the shallow-end of the pool.  Rather, he tossed me into the deep-end expecting me to swim hard to stay on the surface.  If I started to sink, he’d reach out, pull me to the side, coach me and then send me back to swim in deep water responsibilities.  Ron instilled confidence in me showing how he placed great trust in those who worked for him. Every person on Ron’s team became competent, self-sufficient swimmers as business professionals who learned to never give up.

What was more unique about Ron was his genuine interest in Brian, the person.  Ron knew me and my family.  He knew when things were going well or when there were challenges.  Ron knew when to give advice and what advice to give.  It was Ron ‘teaching me to swim’ along with his interest in me personally that helped to shape me as  a Servant Leader…one who, at the end of each day, looks to see what they did to be of value to their team.

I’ve not worked with Ron since 2006, but we stay in touch regularly.  I view him as my ‘Business Father’ and believe he views me as his ‘Business Son’.

Thank you, Ron!

Brian can be reached at brianwolfcpa@gmail.com.


Be Sociable, Share!