Integrity is one of the most important traits a leader can possess.
Integrity is a promise that you keep – unwavering and devotedly. It is a set of values that one adheres to, even when times are tough. If your clients and customers find you to be a leader with integrity, it will reflect well upon your business, and encourage others to trust in your work.
However, presenting yourself as a person who possesses integrity might be easier to say than to fully realize. What exactly is integrity, and how do we show it? In this issue of the Pulse, we take a look at those questions.
What is integrity?
When conceptualizing integrity as a personal trait, it may be hard to know exactly which definition you are working with. In fact, integrity has several modern definitions:
- The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
- The state of being whole and undivided.
- The condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction.
- Internal consistency or lack of corruption.
So, which one of these should you be aiming for? The answer is: all of them!
Integrity as a leader.
If we look at all of these definitions as pieces of a larger whole, integrity in business leadership looks like a set of values that are made clear to consumers – and are demonstrably adhered to. These guiding principles should be upheld even in the face of adversity.
Think of integrity like a strongly rooted tree, still standing after many decades. It has grown in the ideal conditions to be resilient to harsh weather and predators, all the while reaching for the sun. When your staff, colleagues, contacts, and customers see that your commitment to business ethics and a strong moral code is as strong as that deeply rooted tree, it will build trust in you, your brand, and help foster genuine connections across your network.
Some of the virtues most commonly associated with integrity include honesty, accountability, dependability, responsibility, loyalty, and self-awareness.
Integrity on the job.
Part of integrity in a business environment is not only embodying these values as a leader, but building a team of likeminded, trustworthy individuals. Of course, you do not need to agree on everything – diversity of ideas is important – but when it comes to integrity, everyone should be of like-mind. If an employee is going to represent your brand, and integrity is important to you as a leader, they should likewise be a person of integrity.
Outside of your reputation, hiring a team with integrity is important for a number of reasons, including:
- Fostering consistency in the quality and delivery of work.
- Forming respectful and trusting relationships between colleagues.
- Creating a workplace environment where employees take pride in their work and take their responsibilities seriously.
- Allowing for honest communication and conflict resolution.
- Ensuring all employees abide by company policies and procedures without needing much supervision.
- Empowering employees to take accountability for their work and are open to constructive criticism.
It is evident that employing a team with integrity is crucial for any company that takes pride in what it does.
If you’ve ever managed a team, you can probably think of an employee that had very few, if any, qualities associated with integrity. They might have been a burden to you as their supervisor, or even to the whole team, by creating more work for others.
How does one demonstrate integrity?
Telling a prospect or contact that your business or team values integrity is not going to be effective. It’s one of those traits that has to speak for itself – actions speak louder than words, and all that. It’s something others say about you, or something they feel implicitly when thinking of you as a person and/or business.
So, how do you show your commitment to your values?
Here are some guidelines that may help:
- Clearly state your values in your mission statement or ‘about us’ section of your website.
- Only make promises you know you can keep.
- Take accountability when you make mistakes.
- Be sincere in your praise of others.
- Feature examples of you maintaining your values – even/especially when facing adversity.
- Create a culture in the workplace that values a job well done above a profit made.
Integrity is a quality that one lives. Should someone try to convince others it is a quality they themselves possess, without a proven track record to back that statement up, the opposite is likely to be perceived. It is a deep morality that drives decisions that benefit those around you. This is especially true in the business world.
You can tell people that you value integrity, but it is through your actions that you will truly convince them.
Integrity is the flourishing tree which grows from your deeply rooted ethics and values. It is the meter with which you evaluate challenges and opportunities. Maintaining your integrity is one of the most important aspects of your leadership, and a key part of business success.