A Crash Course About: The Tone at The Top and how it Effects Your Bottom Line

This is one of the single most important topics a CEO or anyone in a position of management can read about. As a manager you don’t just want your employees to respect you. You also want them to uphold the ethics of the company as well. Yes “A company is like a clock and it will only work if all the little cogs mesh together” unless everyone is on the same page and valuing the same thing the company will hit a wall. If one cog is going backwards that will affect all of the cogs after it. So with that in mind let’s talk about: The people on top and how they affect the people on the bottom, and to make things simple we will split this into four points.


 1) The Theory

Now this is a well-accepted theory, studies have been done and even guys with PHD write articles about it, and sense I don’t have time to write a short book let’s just look at a crash course.

A)     The best way to look at this is through a picture. Now as you can see The CEO is at the top. Management is the middle and the employees are at the bottom. Now this Picture simply shows who has influence over who.

Tone-at-the-Top (1)

B)   Now people naturally look to the higher ups for not just how the company handles problems, but the overall atmosphere. Specifically when talking about the ethics of the company

C)   According to VentureLine the definition of Tone at the Top is TONE AT THE TOP refers to how an organization’s leadership creates the tone at the top – an ethical (or unethical) atmosphere in the workplace. Management’s tone has a trickle-down effect on employees. If top managers uphold ethics and integrity so will employees. But if upper management appears unconcerned with ethics and focuses solely on the bottom line, employees will be more prone to commit fraud and feel that ethical conduct isn’t a priority. In short, employees will follow the examples of their bosses

In summery the actions of the CEO or even management effect the people below them. For instance The CEO has a firm belief in ethics in everything he does when it comes to how he treats his employees down to how he treats the customers this in turn effects management and how the treat the people below them and how they treat customers. Yep you guessed it this in turn creates the atmosphere in the office and creates in essence positive energy in the workplace. Making the employees happy and in turn creates a well-oiled machine. But what happens when Management doesn’t like the CEO?


2) The Clock

The Clock is the business and for it work everything must be working the right way. The cogs must turn the right way but who are the cogs?

A)   Cogs- The CEO being the first Cog he affects management. Management in turn affects the employees. But what happens if the cogs are turning the wrong way?

B)   If a cog is turning the wrong way it makes the other cogs after it turn the wrong way as well. If this is happing the clock is clearly broken and that could easily destroy the clock if not fixed immediately.

In summery your business relies heavily on the fact that the CEO has a good influence over everyone not just management. The CEO needs to make sure is employees know him. Not as a suit at a Mahogany desk talking about how much money he has, rather they need to know him as a leader someone who is capable of not just leading but empathy. There’s a reason over 2 million Americans quit their job every month, and out of those 2 million 31% claim they left because of their boss. Let’s be honest the employee is the backbone of a company and is a huge factor on if a company fails or succeeds.


3) The Evidence

Now I have talked a lot about theories and speculation but its worthless if I have no proof so without further ado “The Evidence”.

A)   Meet Walt Pavlo a convicted criminal whose actions he learned from the top and actions that would soon trickle down to the employees themselves. Our story begins when Walt was pressured by his bosses to break the law these actions included but not limited to money laundering, statement fraud, and even wire fraud. His employees were eventually in on the act as well and before you knew it Walt Pavlo, his colleagues, and even some of his employees were convicted with fraud and Walt Pavlo himself served a 41 month federal prison sentence.


4) What now?

Now all of this information is useless unless you know what to do with it so the question “How do I make the tone at the top positive?” will now be answered

A)   First Lead by example.

Don’t be the do as I say not what I do boss. You have control of the atmosphere you set the standards. You can do this many ways like be reliable, fair, manage, and most of all be honest.

B)   Be human.

As silly as it sounds this is also vital. Employees view their boss as someone far away in corporate America someone who is unapproachable someone who looks down on everyone else. Don’t be that boss. My History teacher always use to tell us why Alexander was a great leader. “Do you know how Alexander the Great beat the Persians? Well Alexander was a leader who ate with his men, talked with his men, and was on the battlefield with his men. Do you know why Darius lll lost? He was a king that was separate from his men he was of royalty and no man could touch him. In fact Darius was killed by his own men when Alexander invaded. So needless to say better be with your men then to rule with an iron fist.

C)   Reward Integrity

Show them that it matters to you that everyone is ethical. It speaks to employee when you reward them because that shows them that ethics is on the top of list.


Well everything can be summed up by using the clock analogy. Your business is a clock it takes only one cog to freeze everything up. Prevent this by simply being the boss everyone wants show them your human care about them as people rather than machines and before you know it your clock will have “Jewel movements cogs that fit that operate by design” Anyway movie quotes aside are you ready to Improve the Tone at the Top?

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  1. Posted by Granpa Reply

    Well done, I like your approach…..

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