Who can you trust?
There is a resounding theme in news reports these days, and it is “Integrity”. Unfortunately, it has emerged because there are so many examples where it is missing.
The issues with General Motors, the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius in the midst of the healthcare rollout, and the blatant disregard toward U.S. leadership by the leaders of Russia are indicators of a serious integrity crisis.
You might find it strange, but this presents you with a huge opportunity. People see a sizeable gap between the level of integrity they want – and what they’re getting.
Fill that gap because you deliver on what people see as integrity, and your business will thrive. This is obviously not a matter of touting, “I have integrity.” Rather, your actions speak louder than words, as leadership expert John C. Maxwell reminds us. So you need to deliver on integrity in a heartfelt, real way – and consistently.
That raises the question: “What does ‘integrity’ look like?”
How do you know someone has integrity? What do they have to do to prove it? And, yes, people don’t assume integrity. You have to earn it.
As you can see in the examples above, where there is a breach of integrity, there is impairment, liability, dysfunction, and ultimately, real risk to human life. As an organizational leader, you may not be able to change world events or solve the healthcare crisis, but you can start where you are to create a zone of integrity within your organization.
Here are three ways to focus on and begin to own the very important “integrity image,” according to Rise Performance Group’s Mark Fenner and Bob Kaplitz:
Honest, fair, and trustworthy are powerfully important words. Your word is still your bond, and if trust fails, your business will fail, also. This is what GM is facing – and they have a massive job on their hands to rebuild the trust of their previously loyal base. It is far easier – and much less costly – to be upfront, honest, fair, and trustworthy than to have to remediate after the damage is done. Are you doing all you can within your organization to build – and just as importantly, maintain – trust? John Maxwell says it well: “You build trust with others each time you choose integrity over image, truth over convenience, or honor over personal gain.”
Mark Fenner captures it well: “The people you are wanting to influence see your faults. Be proactive and acknowledge what they are already seeing. Those we are influencing do not expect perfection. What they want in a relationship is transparency.”
Transparency is the art of being real and honest. Take responsibility for your mistakes. If one of your projects looks like it is getting behind schedule, let the client know – especially if the oversight is yours. Bob Kaplitz cites this as a real world example from a Rise Performance Group technology client. Kaplitz says, “Transparency gets you points with clients, often deepening the relationship. And what’s more important than trust in a relationship?”
We have seen throughout history that cover-ups don’t work. Bob cites prime examples from his career as an investigative reporter where officials have tried to cover up covert actions. None of them were successful. As a leader, check transparency on a daily basis by asking, “Are we being open and honest in our daily activities and interactions with co-workers, clients, and employees?” If there is an elephant in the room, deal with it proactively. Transparency will happen – either of your choosing or by exposure.
Great leaders are very often humble leaders. They may not say much, but their actions speak volumes. In contrast, boastful leaders are what we in Texas call, “Big hat, no cattle.” Leadership is a big hat – a huge responsibility. As a leader, do you have the cattle to back it up? It is your responsibility to learn all you can about your business and your industry and to surround yourself with a team that adds even more value to the organization.
The company focused on these three principles may not change world events…but it would impact the culture inside and outside the organization. Will you be a leader people can trust? We believe there’s never been a more perfect time.