"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Monday, October 19, 2020

Author Addresses Integrity Breaches in Leadership


Rande Somma

There's a reason why the movie "Horrible Bosses" did so wonderfully at the box office. It was a satiric look into our corporate culture that resonated with many. This dark comedy originally released in 2011 grossed over 209 million; so popular that there was actually a Horrible Bosses 2 that followed shortly thereafter.

The secret to the movie's success was that it "hit home" with scores of workers in Corporate America that could relate to the movie's theme of oppression, office politics and bad and incompetent leaders. 


According to a Monster.com jobsite poll, "76% of job seekers say their boss is toxic." Psychology Today further reports that: "Horrible bosses are not identified and therefore allowed to do their dirty work in organizations because most organizations do not have mechanisms in place to identify and weed out these bad apples."   


Though the story line of Horrible Bosses makes for a hilarious cinematic theme, bad bosses aren't very funny in real life. I should know. I've had my share of them in my former careers. In fact, their ability to create toxic environments, erode office morale, cause stress and make decisions grounded in their own self-interest has far-reaching consequences both internally and externally.
Author and business leader, Rande Somma has published an eye-opening book entitled "Leadersh!t," that explores and addresses poor management, incompetent leadership and America's broken corporate system. Today he shares some of his insights and experiences with Pen & Prosper readers. 

As they say, "Don't judge a book by its cover." This is a compelling and timely read, purposed to change the status quo and cultivate better future leaders.

So, let's get started with the business at hand.

Hi, Rande. Thanks for joining us. 

Can you tell readers a little about who you are and your background?

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. My mother and father were both high school drop outs. We lived in a 700 square foot house so we were a very average middle income family. I enjoyed participating in a number of sports and, even though I haven’t lived in Pittsburgh since 1973, to this day I am a big Steelers fan. As they say, you can take the kid out of Pittsburgh, but you can’t take the Pittsburgh out of the kid."

1973 was a very busy year. I received my bachelor’s degree from Robert Morris University’s School of Business. I married my wife and best friend Georgia (just celebrated our 47 anniversary). We relocated to live in Reading, Pennsylvania and I started my professional career as a Junior Buyer in a machinery plant. Subsequently we relocated four additional times as my career journey progressed. In 1981 we moved to our current residence in Bloomfield, Hills Michigan.

In 1988 I joined Johnson Controls Incorporated’s (JCI) Automotive Operations as Sales Manager for the Chrysler Business. At the time JCI Automotive essentially operated only in North America with annual sales of approximately $800 million. After serving in a number of other positions with increasing responsibility I was promoted to President of the Automotive Group’s North American Operations. Three years later I was elected a Corporate Officer and President of the Automotive Group’s Operations World Wide. Over my fifteen-year career with JCI we had become a truly international Fortune 100 company. When I left JCI in 2003 annual sales were approximately $20 Billion and we had over 250 facilities in 26 countries. Technical Centers in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China and approximately 75,000 employees worldwide.

After leaving JCI I started my own consulting firm focused on coaching /mentoring leadership development. In addition, I became a member of several boards of directors. The boards were for companies that were automotive/non-automotive, for profit and non-profit as well as both private and public. In addition, I am a member of the Robert Morris University’s Business School’s Board of Visitors, and was honored to be the commencement speaker at the 2015 graduation ceremony. 

Is this your first book? What was the inspiration behind it?

Yes, this is my first book. What is amazing is that I am not a reader per say. While I would love to sit, relax and read a book, I have tried many times through the years and I can’t remember reading one cover to cover. Therefore, writing this book is quite ironic!

All of that said, writing the book was something I came to feel that I needed to do. In looking back over all my many opportunities to witness our leadership culture in action, they all had two things in common. First, every organization had a Mission and Vision Statement and they all communicated what the Values would be that would essentially establish the culture and guide their decisions. Values such as The People, Integrity, Customer, Shareholder. 

Second, when I sat in the closed-door meetings the way things operated and how decisions were made had very little alignment with those Values. However, that wasn’t what motivated me to write the book. As I became more and more upset with what appears to be a systemic leadership culture in our country, it struck me that there are victims of this culture where it is acceptable for leaders to surrender their duties to their self-interest. Those victims are the people that depended on those leaders to be authentic in terms of character and talent. In this system those people shift from being something the organization values and its most important asset to simply line items on the spreadsheet. While I knew I could not fix the problem I also couldn’t just look away. So, I wrote this book as a way to do something to try to help.

How would you describe your leadership approach?

My leadership approach was deeply rooted in what I believe should be a leader’s number one objective…. Earn (not entitled to) the trust of the people you are leading. I found that the most effective compass to guide me to that goal was to consistently “walk the talk” when it comes to embodying the company’s stated values.  I want “humanize” myself whenever possible. Be a person who consistently demonstrated trustworthiness and humility. After all, people don’t decide whether or not to trust Titles, they chose whether or not to trust People.

My goal was to establish a culture where integrity had value, decisions that are made as a function of collaboration and consensus, team over self, the long-term goals are equally as (if not more) important as short term goals and where center of gravity was more on the “prevention” versus the “reaction” side of the priority equation. Lastly, a culture where achieving your goals is indeed important; but what is even more important is the means by which they were used to meet those objectives. After all, the HOW is where the credibility and sustainability of the results reside.

Give us the “4-1-1-”.  What would it surprise others to know about you? 

Even my oldest friends would be surprised to know that I am a basically shy person. Over the years I have noticed that it just was in my nature to be uncomfortable when connecting with new people and situations. However, once I get through the “introduction phase” I’m able to relax.

Over my life and career I have given countless speeches and presentations to both small and large audiences. I’ve given interviews for newspapers and magazines, and have appeared on both television and radio shows. Not exactly a recipe you would associated with someone who is fundamentally shy!

How has the book been received thus far? 

Let me address that question with what I have heard from readers. In addition to the 42 reviews on Amazon, I have been in touch with dozens of folks, from Yokohama, Japan to Munich, Germany. All representing different businesses and industries. I was amazed at the two things in common from their feedback. 

First, they were all working in an organization managed by leaders that made far too many decisions that were completely inconsistent with the company’s stated mission and values. The dynamics made them feel like they were trapped in the dilemma of either selling out on their own personal values and therefore conform to the organization’s true culture, or to not abandon their values and thereby eventually put their position with that organization in jeopardy. While the book did not give them the answers it enabled them to understand exactly why they found themselves in that position.

Secondly (and by far the most fulfilling for me), so many of them said that by having a better understanding of today’s broken leadership culture, it was cathartic to know that they were not the problem, rather it was the system they were operating in.

Can you tell us about your Integrity First Scholarship program?

After years of achieving so much success in our lives my wife and I decided to “give-back” to organizations that added significant value to our life’s journey. One of those organizations for me was my alma mater Robert Morris University. 

Eleven years ago we established (and fund) the Rande &Georgia Somma “Integrity First” scholarships. In addition to providing for five $5,000.00 scholarships each year, it invites Business School students to express their views on how an organization or individual operating grounded in integrity, ethics and morality is not mutually exclusive from achieving their highest aspirations. In fact, in the right leadership culture they are quite compatible.

Since its inception scholarships have been awarded to over 50 students. Formal presentation of the scholarships is made at an annual dinner and Ethics Workshop typically attended by approximately 250 students. 

I am grateful to the Business School’s Dean, faculty and staff for providing me this platform. Feedback from students over the years has been amazing and quite fulfilling.

To learn more about Rande Somma or to order his book, visit his site:

Leave a comment or question on this post and one random winner will be chosen to receive a free autographed copy of his book!

Anybody out there work for any "horrible bosses" ?

Image credits: Pixabay.com


  1. Hi! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you recommend any other Fashion Write For Us blogs that go over the same topics? Thanks a ton!

  2. It's nice to meet you, Rande. Your PA heritage caught my eye - I was born in Lancaster. Appreciate you sharing your insight and experience here. It's refreshing to see someone who wants to help others through a book such as this.

    Jen, as always, thanks for hosting. :)

  3. Karen,
    If PA produces quality folks like you and Rande, it's a place I would certainly like to visit some day. :-) Thanks for your time and comment.