Integrity is the most important leadership attribute. Ultimately, we want to work with people who are ethical. More importantly, we want to work for ethical people. If you know your leader acts with integrity, then you know they will not only do what is right for the business, but they will do right by you as well. Leaders with integrity improve businesses. When companies have ethical leadership teams it’s easier to attract customers, investors, and professionals to work for you.
As a leader, it’s important that you recognize the importance of your decisions, words, and actions. How you contribute to the culture and values of the company is important, and it’s a way for you to display your integrity. Some experts believe that leadership is built from three pillars of trustworthiness and of those, integrity is one. To lead, you need followers and that requires trust. There is no trust without kindness, ability, and integrity. Your employees will show their vulnerabilities when you work with them and show your willingness to help them better themselves and the business.
We judge our leaders on competence and the content of their character. Within character, falls integrity. Your integrity will let your employees know whether you are a friend or a foe. Integrity is associated with good intentions and kindness.
Many leaders claim to value integrity, but is it legit or are they just seizing buzz words? Ask yourself, what is integrity, what does it really mean? You should be able to answer that and if you can’t, then there’s a good chance you aren’t serious about acting with integrity.
To lead with integrity, you need to first determine what that looks like in your business. How can it be highlighted and emphasized every step of the way? It has to start at the very top and it’s up to every leader in your business or organization to act with integrity and demand the same of your employees. Leaders are role models, and if they don’t actively display their expectations through their actions, then the employees won’t follow suit.
Practical Ways to Display Integrity
Ultimately, treat others well and act honestly at all times. Don’t be tempted to exaggerate your actions or success, but be quick to praise the contributions of others. You should hold yourself accountable to your employees, your peers, and your own leader(s). Treat everyone kindly and be fair in everything that you do, no matter whom you are dealing with.
Do you do as you tell others to? If you set a meeting for 9 am, do you arrive on time? Part of displaying integrity is honoring your commitments and showing others that you respect their time. You should always take your schedule (and deadlines) seriously. Just because no one will question you when you arrive late doesn’t mean that you should hold yourself to a different standard. Every behavior you display is an example, are yours good or bad?
Leadership is stressful and it’s easy to crack under pressure. It says a lot about you as a leader, how you act and speak when you’re under pressure. Your behavior during stressful periods is magnified, everyone around you sees it and it’s your opportunity to role model integrity and stress management.
Don’t underestimate how powerful your actions are at displaying your integrity. Think about the words that you use and the actions that you choose to follow through with. Do they align or are you all talk? Is your desire to lead with integrity an empty promise or do you really mean what you say?
Do you lead with integrity or do you have more work to do?