Team Player or Whistleblower?

I believe that it is always a good idea to tell the truth. At times it is more difficult to do this – when our own jobs are on the line, for instance – yet truth-telling can be cathartic and is certainly indicative of integrity.  When faced with this type of dilemma it may seem as though keeping the truth from coming to light will protect one’s career, status, or image; however, quite the opposite is often the case.  When we choose not to tell the truth and it is revealed later on, we stand to lose considerably more than just a job or status.  Most importantly, we are obligated as children of The Most High God to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before our God (Micah 6:8).

There is no difference between being a team player and being a whistleblower. A team player places the team’s needs and best interest before his/her own.  It means covering another after they have made an honest mistake, it means extending grace to one another.  A whistleblower puts the team (whether that be executives, employees, shareholders, or the public) first when another individual or group is found to be involved in unethical conduct. It may appear as though the whistleblower is no longer a team player, yet that could not be further from the truth.  In reality, a whistleblower places his/her own comfort aside and steps out for truth and justice.  Former Enron vice president and whistleblower Sherron Watkins was very much a team player as she met with then Enron chairman Kenneth Lay in private and shared all that she discovered regarding accounting irregularities.  She warned him that he must take action yet he continued to mislead the company’s shareholders and employees.  Unfortunately, Lay did not proceed to act ethically and Watkins was no longer viewed as a team player.

If I observed unethical conduct by my boss, I would seriously consider confronting him/her as Ms. Watkins confronted her boss. I believe that confrontation should be the first step and whistleblowing a last resort.  The Bible teaches us, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over” (Matthew 18:15, New International Version).  If ever faced with this type of dilemma, my prayer is that I would be strong and courageous.  Preserving that relationship is important but not at the cost of truth and integrity.  I only hope that I would be bold enough to confront the unethical behavior.

Sherron Watkins was eventually named a Time Person of the Year in 2002, but not before enduring a difficult road filled with intense congressional hearings and extremely negative press. Was it all worth it in the end?  I believe that Ms. Watkins would answer yes.