Leadership goes hand in hand with Trust and Respect and to build a reputation for Trust and Respect you need to demonstrate a high level of Integrity, however, integrity can be a contradiction in today’s workplace.
The label of integrity is hard to earn and yet it can be lost in a single action. It is not something we consciously look for in someone but we tend to notice when it is missing.
Once we regularly consider our own actions and evaluate how they align with our personal values, intentions, and deeds, we recognise the changes we need to make and thus we start to make a contribution to the world of integrity.
We are each responsible for our own integrity and the best leaders create cultures that nourish the integrity of others.
At its root of the word integrity we find; to “integer” and “integrate”, it speaks of unity and wholeness. We still think of the word in this original sense when we talk about “structural integrity,” the quality that enables a building to stand and that which, when lost, lets a building collapse under its own weight.
As US Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man said, “Integrity is the ability to listen to the place inside oneself that doesn’t change, even though the life that carries it may change.”
Most of us evolve and develop throughout our journey as leaders. Our character and our integrity are remembered long after the glitter of the deals has faded.
Having integrity leads to the building of trust as we practice honest conversations with others. Integrity is a positive deposit in the bank of our connections.
Trust is an inherent part of integrity. People need to trust that leadership is serving everyone’s best interest and leadership needs to trust that team members are fulfilling their own responsibilities.
HOW DO WE IMPROVE LEADERSHIP INTEGRITY?
“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” Confucius
This possibly varies person to person but the following points, in my opinion, cover integrity within leadership.
Respect – practice integrity with others by treating them with respect — even when they do not live up to your personal expectations of them. Recognise that your own standards can be subject to question. We get and give the best of each other in a culture that supports respect.
Reliability – This is a more functional definition of integrity and a basic practice of a natural leader. It includes showing a little humility, keeping promises, meeting important deadlines and being there when people need you.
Sharing – It’s important for leaders to clearly articulate their values and expectation of integrity. Share these values as a culture-building objective as to how we collectively define integrity.
Responsibility – We need to acknowledge our responsibility for every one of our actions. It demonstrates that we are not using other people or external events as the cause of our problems. Wherever possible blame no one, accept the behaviour of others and the circumstances of an action as a given, and move forward.
Considered Actions – This is the leader’s obligation to take the right action. It means embodying our integral principles and accepting the consequences for our actions.
Thinking 360° – Think of the whole not just this one problem or decision, integrity can be viewed as a culture of wholeness, of being able to support all of the components for the long term good of all.
I have to admit that I have on numerous occasions made decisions or taken a course of action that would not withstand scrutiny of the points above. This is where self-awareness comes in and that question; “What is the correct course?” and remember life is a journey, good and bad……we can only do our best as we see it at the time!
Corporate responsibility and integrity make strange if not incompatible bed fellows and over the years have formed much discussion over the dinner table. In this article I am really only trying to examine questions of integrity in leadership.
Examining integrity at an intellectual level seems to raise more questions than answers. Mistakes will always made and occasionally poor judgement will be shown. Importantly we are now aware of some of the questions and it’s what we learn and how we adapt to our mistakes that we should now contemplate.
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Diversity and Change are catalysts to growth and development, to new ideas and to improvement throughout the world in which we live. Darwin’s evolution of the species demonstrated how through diversity and change the world is able to constantly evolve and improve.
Why then are so many of us suspicious of both diversity and change, why do we fight to protect the status quo? Is it as simple as a fear of the unknown? It brings to mind Franklin D Roosevelt’s famous speech “….the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself”
If we are to get the best outcome from any human endeavour we require continuing diversity and change at all levels. Diversity of age, experience, education, gender, race, outlook and expectation, imagine a team encompassing such diversity tackling the big and complex issues within your business. Can you envision the team’s potency and its potential to drive change?
Increasingly business is global, multi-cultural and can no longer assume the gender of decision makers on either buy or sell side transactions. Successful teams and organisations need to reflect this diversity and change to embrace it.
Managing change requires both vision and courage but the rewards are enormous, when we think of Apple today we think of iPhone’s and iPad’s first and computers second. This reflects their ability and capacity to change and yet it still overlooks their leading edge position as a global leader in integrated retailing.
The days of proud “national manufacturers” are a fading memory as global organisations position differing operations in the global location most suited. R&D may take place in California, IP is held in Ireland, manufacturing close to the source of labour or raw materials. Management and staff are drawn from universities and institutions from all points of the globe and across many faculties.
A modern corporate board is just as likely to include a female graduate in PP&E as a male holding an MBA. Shareholders are increasingly focused on “whole of business” concept as opposed to the out dated “short term profit” position. The CBA board must now be wishing it could wind back the clock a few years to avoid its current publicity.
Change isn’t always good, some mistakes will always be made but hand in hand with diversity we are now more open to the faster assessment of ideas and their success or failure and prepared to act quickly to recognise mistakes, clear them out and move forward.
Don’t just accept diversity and change, embrace them, use them and remember:-
“….the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself” – Franklin D Roosevelt
Persistence and motivation are in many ways the rocket fuels of success. Certainly if you wish to impress colleagues with your leadership and management you had better hone both of these skills.
Immediately after waking each day I have started posting a motivational quote to test its effect on me and my friends. A positive start to the day is essential, so often the quote is leadership or persistence based and quite old fashioned by today’s standards.
The leaders quoted include amongst many: Franklin D Roosevelt, Dale Carnegie, Winston Churchill, Napoleon and an old favourite of mine Zig Ziglar. These men suffered many setbacks in both life and career and yet through sheer guts, determination and persistence they moved forward and succeeded.
The dictionary defines persistence as, “Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” In other words, don’t expect it to be easy and understand that most will tell you that you are wrong in your chosen pursuit. Until you are successful; at which stage they always knew you were a genius.
For entrepreneurs or management starting life’s climb, an MBA, technical competence, talent, intelligence, and leadership ability – are assumed traits. However, the key characteristic that is missing for sustained achievement is persistence.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” – President Calvin Coolidge
In order to achieve complicated or difficult goals, persistence is the most significant factor. There are lessons to be learnt from the successful, persistent leaders in all walks of life who have overcome enormous obstacles.
Hold Firm to your vision: Even when others tell you it’s foolish or unachievable.
Train Your Mind to focus on your vision: This doesn’t mean be blind to issues but don’t allow the problems distract you from the objective.
Grow Stronger: Constantly improve your skills and knowledge, constantly question and analyse especially after failure
Change: Be prepared to change 180 degrees if you are wrong, accept your failures
Be Reliable: Be there, be seen trying, be consistent, and demonstrate that even small steps are still results delivered and failures lessons learnt on the journey..
Complete the Task: Finishing the job requires the courage to hold your vision, an ability to think through and overcome obstacles and to persist when others would walk
Never Ever, Ever, Give Up: Keep at it despite the obstacles, despite negative comment, despite the odds
In principle these points are so easy to state and yet it takes enormous reserves of mental strength, courage and character to swim against the tide and achieve great things.
Lets consider how persistence and motivation changed history……
The Little Spider That Changed History……..
“A Spider that changed history?” I hear you ask; well as a small child I heard a great story demonstrating the value of persistence involving The Scottish King Robert the Bruce and a humble but determined Spider.
Robert the Bruce was defending his country from invasion by the English and their armies. Battle after battle he had fought with England. Six times Robert the Bruce had led his men into battle. Six times his men were beaten, and finally driven into flight. The army of Scotland was entirely scattered, and the King was forced to hide in a cave.
As he lay recovering, he noticed a spider over his head, getting ready to weave its web. He watched as it worked slowly and with great care. Six times it tried to throw its thread from one edge of the cave wall to another. Six times its thread fell short.
The spider persisted and on its seventh attempt was successful. Legend has it that Robert the Bruce gathered his remaining troops and told the story of the spider’s persistence. Using this story he reinvigorated and motivated his bedraggled army into one last battle and one in which they won such a famous victory.
This childhood legend has had a very significant impact on my life during times of difficulty and failure.