Richard Bistrong: “High Performing Employees Are More Prone To Unethical Mistakes”

Richard Bistrong is Nielsonsmith’s speaker at “Compliance, Anti-Corruption and Ethics Forum”.

Richard spent much of his career as an international sales executive in the defense sector and currently consults, writes and speaks on foreign bribery and compliance issues from that front-line perspective. Richard’s experience included his role as the Vice President of International Sales for a large, publicly traded manufacturer of police and military equipment, which required his residing and working in the UK. For well over ten years, Richard traveled overseas in his sales responsibility for approximately 250 days per year.

Richard Bistrong headshot
European Integrity and Compliance Forum, 5-6 November 2024, Dusseldorf Germany

“Research shows high performing employees are more prone to unethical mistakes”

This is a counter-intuitive as well as thought-provoking article, co-written by Richard Bistrong alongside Ron Carucci and Dina Smith.

High-performing employees often get away with unethical behavior due to their value to the organization. Research shows they are more susceptible to ethical lapses due to ambition and cognitive biases. To prevent this, organizations should temper success celebrations, balance incentives, normalize failure, acknowledge integrity, and avoid managing high performers on autopilot. Encouraging open communication about potential shortfalls and addressing entitlement issues is essential. Recognizing and appreciating both performance and integrity can help maintain a culture of ethics and success.

In 2007, Richard was targeted by the US Department of Justice in part due to an investigation of a UN supply contract and was terminated by his employer. In that same year, as part of a cooperation agreement with the United States Department of Justice and subsequent Immunity from Prosecution in the United Kingdom, Richard assisted the United States, Great Britain, and other governments in their understanding of how FCPA, bribery and other export violations occurred and operated in international sales. Richard’s cooperation, which spanned three years of covert cooperation and two years of trial preparation and testimony, was one of the longest in a white-collar criminal investigation. In 2012, Richard was sentenced as part of his own Plea Agreement, and served fourteen-and-a-half months at a Federal Prison Camp. Richard was released in December of 2013.

Book on Ethics

Through his consultancy, Front-Line Anti-Bribery LLC, Richard now conducts corporate workshops and keynotes to 1) Sales, marketing and business development teams, 2) Leadership groups, including Boards, C-Suite executives, and functional leaders 3) Compliance groups, including control functions such as internal audit, finance and HR.

In person and virtually, Richard has presented to hundreds of diverse global multinationals in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. His talks focus on anti- bribery, ethics and compliance challenges, sharing his front-line experience and perspective on real-world corruption and compliance risk.

Richard Bistrong – the CEO of Front-Line Anti-Bribery

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