In everything you do as a business leader you have to constantly ask yourself the question ‘does what I am doing, or asking others to do, support my belief that integrity is a core principal of my leadership of this business?’ Or put another way, ‘do my actions compromise your or my integrity?’ Integrity has to be a fundamental pillar of any leader’s behavioural traits and ignoring that fundamental principal can destroy you as a leader. In time, you will lose the respect of your peers, your colleagues, your subordinates and ultimately your clients.
Of course, erosion of integrity happens slowly over time but unless you constantly check your actions against your core principals you won’t notice that it’s happening. Actions that compromise your integrity become the norm until gradually people realise that what you are doing is wrong; and they react. Staff will feel compromised and start to consider if they can continue working for you, stakeholders in the business question your actions and fitness to lead the business and clients vote with their feet and opt to buy from someone else.
So what do you do to ensure you remain true to your core values and that those around you understand what they are?
- Know what your values are. Write them down and share them by producing a ‘value charter’ shared with your staff, clients and stakeholders. Display it in the office and on your website for all to see.
- Adhere to your principals. Don’t just write them down. Make them real; practice what you preach.
- Trust your judgement. If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. Be prepared to challenge any behaviour or actions that you feel compromise your and the businesses integrity.
- Don’t turn a blind eye. Don’t pretend things aren’t happening when you’re pretty sure they are. Act!
- If in doubt; don’t do it! Trust your instincts to do what is right. Challenge yourself and others to ensure actions match words.
And what do you do if your integrity is being compromised?
- Say something. It’s not always easy but doing nothing can’t be an option. Be respectful but explain clearly why you believe what you are being asked to do compromises your integrity and core values.
- Is the other person listening to you? Do they understand and appreciate your point of view? Or are they looking to force you to accept that what they are asking is correct regardless of your considered, and respectful, objections?
- Walk away. Ultimately, if there is a refusal to understand your view, then you have to walk away from the situation. This could mean refusing to participate in the action or even leaving your job. Hard to consider, I appreciate. No one wants to voluntarily walk away from their job but ultimately, if your core values and beliefs are real, you may be left with no option. After all, if integrity really is a core principal that you firmly believe in, would you want to work for an organisation that does not respect that? And are you being true to yourself if you don’t follow your principals?
So, is integrity in leadership important? Of course it is. Integrity and the consistent adherence to a set of core values bring respect. Respect brings loyalty. Loyalty brings commitment and commitment leads to a successful business built on mutual respect and trust.
Be aware of your actions and of what you ask others to do and constantly check back against your core principals to ensure that they adhere to them.
It’s a tough business environment at the moment and the temptation to cut corners and compromise values is sometimes difficult to resist. But, if your integrity is being compromised, then speak out, calmly and with respect. Ultimately, the business will be a better place for it.
Posted by Martin Arnold on May 14, 2012 | Comments Off