As a management consultant, I talk to a lot of managers and leaders about the good, bad, and the ugly. During one of my sessions where I was helping to develop a leadership pipeline in an organization, I had a mid-level manager tell me a story. It began with a friendship with his unit manager. They would spend their time going over charts and graphs and then go to training seminars together along with family dinners. He felt a loyalty between them and a high level of trust. He willingly reciprocated and enjoyed the positive outcomes of recognition. As I listened, I could recognize a tone of apprehension and disappointment. Moving the conversation forward he related an occasion where his manager asked him to perform some research for a specific project. He spent hours and days doing his research and was very meticulous as to its organization. Upon completion, he took it to his manager, who asked him to email it to him. Two weeks later, at a unit meeting, the division director talked about some problems that had risen and a new plan had been researched, which would now be implemented. Gleaming with pride, the manager knew that he had worked very hard on this plan and felt a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. However, all of this turned at the point when the division director called the unit manager to the front and told everyone what a great job he had done to recognize this problem and formulate the new operating procedures and policy. The mid-level manager told me that he later found out that his unit manager, his friend, had taken his proposal, changed the name on it, and submitted it to his managers as his own work without giving the mid-level manager any credit. I knew how he felt, that was obvious. What he told me has stuck with me for years. "Everything that I worked for to build that relationship that I thought was based on trust and loyalty was destroyed in one moment in time. His integrity at that point changed how I viewed him, his work, his leadership, and the organization. My motivation was destroyed and I had no choice but to leave the organization."
Good relationships can take a long time to create. However, they can be destroyed in a moment of time.
Leadership is about influence. A leader is not a self-proclaimed title but one that is bestowed upon you by your followers. Without integrity there is a lack of trust and loyalty and, therefore, followers.
Here are 5 ways good leaders demonstrate integrity in the workplace:
#1 They Live What They Teach:
If you've ever worked for someone who said one thing and then did another, you understand the confusion this creates among people. You are constantly on guard, not knowing what to expect next. If you tell your subordinates to do something, yet you do completely different, you are just spilling empty words that have no root. You should never ask your followers to do something you aren't willing to do. Live the example. What you do should speak so loud that your followers cannot hear what you say.
#2 They Do What They Say:
Trust is an emotion. That emotion is created in a confidence of support. When you tell your followers that you will do something and fail to follow through, you lose credibility. Why should they believe you next time to tell them something. What if it's a much larger issue? Your trust has been compromised. If circumstances change and prevent you from doing what you say, don't be afraid to go back and explain what happened and help find a new solution. Make sure what you say and what you do are congruent.
#3 They Are Honest With Others:
Your followers watch how you interact with others. Your actions are continually on display. They notice how you treat them when certain people are around. They notice if you change your attitude toward them when certain people are around. Doing so make you look shallow and fake. I had a friend that I worked with that would ignore me when the 'higher ups' were around. I lost respect and confidence in him. Our relationship has never recovered.
#4 They Exhibit Servanthood:
People see if you are self-serving and willing to throw your subordinates under the bus in order to make yourself look good. They also see when you go the extra mile to help someone and put one's needs above your own. The greatest attribute of a good, effective leader is servanthood. Spend you time helping and making your followers better. When they succeed, you automatically reap that reward also.
#5 They Are Transparent and Vulnerable:
Being true and honest with your followers is a great attribute that will gain loyalty, commitment, and trust. If you make a mistake, admit it. You gain more respect by doing so than trying to hide it or blaming someone else. Don't be afraid to be affected by the issues of life. Emotions are real. Care for your followers and let them know that your concern is genuine. John Maxwell says that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. If I had an employee or a family member in the hospital, I made sure I visited. I once sat with an employee's child in the hospital so he and his spouse could go to dinner alone. They never forgot it.
Integrity is one the highest calling of leadership. If leadership is about influence, how can you influence those who do not trust you, or refuse to be loyal to you? Incorporate these five attributes into your leadership and watch how your influence rises.