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Richard K. Davis, Chairman, President & CEO of U.S. Bancorp introduces the 2015 Q3 edition of Ethisphere Magazine.

Dear readers,

Welcome to the CEO issue of Ethisphere Magazine. Between these pages are insights from CEOs who head companies spanning geography, size, and industry. Their collective experience and wisdom about running an ethics-anchored company are vast and should challenge your current thinking and future actions. It is a privilege to be Guest Editor to such a fine cast of editorial contributors and ethical leaders.

In my ninth year as Chairman, President, and CEO of the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States, I am no stranger to the importance of ethics. Helping Americans build financially secure futures requires a deep and unwavering trust relationship between them and their financial institution. At U.S. Bank, we have been doing this successfully for more than 151 years. Customers trust us with their financial goals and objectives—which are deeply and intensely personal—and we convert their goals into something tangible. Buying a home, starting a new business, planning for retirement, or expanding a FORTUNE 1000 business begins with their trust for their bank and their banker(s).

That trust relationship is also an economic engine. We take those goals and objectives and create motion in the economy. When the trust relationship between individuals and businesses of all sizes is operating at maximum effectiveness, it stimulates the US economy and creates positive momentum.

Today, we all operate in increasingly complex and competitive industries, and as CEOs, we have to successfully navigate our entire organization through this sea of complexity and competition every day. And we must do it with the highest level of ethics and integrity. With the emergence of dynamic social communication tools and rapidly evolving customer behaviors, we now operate under a bigger and brighter spotlight. There is no hiding from missteps, nor should there be. In many regards, the broad consumer marketplace (especially younger generations) has transformed from a “trust me” environment to a “prove it” environment. And that means more than ever, we will be measured by how we perform versus simply what we provide.

This is the new reality for CEOs. Simplifying our complicated operating environments is not possible; however, simplifying our approach to running an ethical company is possible and it is the key to winning and maintaining the trust of all your stakeholders. Today, there is a temptation to overcomplicate ethics and sometimes even confuse compliance for ethics. Compliance represents your organization’s activities, while ethics stands for your organization’s pulse. While compliance is infused with ethics, protecting the pulse of your organization is the most important activity a CEO handles.

The solution at U.S. Bank is simple: Just like a vessel charting its course on the endless ocean expanse where only the horizon can be seen, we follow our compass to reach our intended destination. Our compass is our organization’s set of core values. Our core values guide our daily decisions, activities, interactions, investments and, ultimately, allow us to create value for our stakeholders. This requires no complex algorithm to discuss or dissect. It is really that simple.

Let your core values be your compass.

As you review this CEO issue, I challenge you to look for opportunities for personal and institutional improvement. I know I will. There are great ideas and observations throughout from inspirational and experienced leaders. Enjoy reading.

 Richard K. Davis
Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer
U.S. Bancorp

 

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This article was featured in the Q3 2015 issue of Ethisphere Magazine. To subscribe and learn more about Ethisphere Magazine click here.