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Written by Michael Bergdahl

“You’ve got to give folks responsibility, you’ve got to trust them, and then you’ve got to check on them.” Sam Walton


Don’t Waste Your Time Trying to Change People Who are Dishonest or Lack Integrity


THE GOLDEN RULE: Sam Walton treated his employees like business partners, his suppliers as his vendor partners, and his customers like they were his friends or neighbors. He believed in living by “The Golden Rule” which meant he treated others the way he himself expected to be treated. He professed a belief that people who lived by The Golden Rule tend to have Golden Rule Values, which makes them forthright and honest in their dealings with others. Mr. Sam expected the people around him to operate with openness, honesty and integrity at all times.


CUSTOMERS: Mr. Sam wanted his customers to know Walmart would always treat them honestly and fairly, no matter what. That’s exactly the reason why Walmart has a 100%, unconditional, money back, product guarantee, with no questions asked! He even located his “product return desk” up at the front of his stores so customers at the cash registers could clearly see how Walmart treated customers who were returning products to the store. By creating a reputation in the marketplace of total honesty and transparency, Walmart’s customers know they will be treated right when they purchase or return products at a Walmart store. That feeling of comfort and safety brings more than 200 million loyal customers back to shop at Walmart’s nearly 12,000 stores across the globe every week of the year!


PRODUCT SUPPLIERS: Sam Walton would walk a mile to help a product supplier that had a performance problem, but he wouldn’t take a single step to help a product supplier that exhibited an integrity or dishonesty problem. He believed honesty and integrity were fundamental values everyone must live by if they expected to do business with Walmart. Mr. Sam led by his own example, and he expected his “vendor partners” to be open and honest in reverse in all of their dealings related to Walmart. He knew having a reputation for honesty was always the best policy, and that honest business practices were incredibly important to long-term relationships with Walmart’s suppliers. Walmart was one of the first companies in the world to form trust-based “vendor partnerships” allowing automated replenishment of supplier’s products, based on Walmart sharing real time, store specific, sales information with each product supplier.


EMPLOYEES: Mr. Sam believed all of his company’s top leaders and managers needed to be honest in all of their business dealings in order to inspire the same behavior in his employees. Sam Walton believed the integrity of an individual was a “component of each individual’s DNA” and it was either there or it wasn’t. He believed you can’t have a “lapse in integrity” and there is no such thing as “situational integrity” so he would not accept excuses for dishonesty or for failing to follow through on commitments. That’s the reason he wouldn’t waste his time trying to coach, counsel or train someone who lacked integrity or exhibited dishonest behavior. Mr. Sam did his best to promote the importance of openness and honesty because he knew he had to trust his managers and employees to run his retail empire in countries around the world. To achieve that goal, and prove his sincerity, Sam Walton made sure his store managers shared the current profit & loss statement results for each store, with the employees who worked in that store, every week of the year!

VALUES: Openness, honesty and integrity are the foundation values upon which Walmart builds trust with employees, product suppliers, customers and investors.


What Would Sam Walton Do #11 – OPENNESS, HONESTY & INTEGRITY: Sam Walton would tell you to hold your team accountable for following through on their commitments 100% of the time. He’d also tell you to lead with integrity, setting your own positive example, by always doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it!

Your team can learn more about “THE IMPORTANCE OF OPENNESS, HONESTY & INTEGRITY at WALMART” from Michael Bergdahl’s book and speech titled: The 10 Rules of Sam Walton.

Michael Bergdahl is the author of 5 books and he is an international keynote speaker and master class leader. He worked with Sam Walton and he is an expert on Walmart’s Best Leadership Practices

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