The Integrity Bridge

There is constant upheaval in the business environment. Our technological advancements are changing the dynamics in our workplaces and our lives. Automation has become mainstream in manufacturing. We pay for goods and services through apps and an increasing number of the goods we consume are delivered to our doorstep. Change itself is becoming exponential.

During this time of great change, it takes more than vision to be an effective leader, although vision is operationally paramount. Keeping an eye on opportunity, looking for competitive advantages, acquisitions or mergers, and repositioning goods and services is also essential in the current business landscape. But all this hard work can be undermined by an integrity deficit. 

It’s easy to site where mega corporations and by extension their CEOs, have fallen short due to an integrity lapse. Volkswagen’s diesel scandal, Wells Fargo creating fraudulent accounts, Equifax’s data breach, United Airlines security misjudgment, and misconduct that ended long-standing careers at Fox News, all spring forward as reminders of how quickly fortunes can change.

All of these examples beg the question; “What were they thinking?”

Relationships rely on integrity. We trust stores will give us a fair price. We presume distributors will represent us fairly in the marketplace. We expect healthcare providers to make decisions in our best interest. Especially in the legal realm, we count on Judges to use good judgement.

It’s no different inside our companies. Employees expect to be treated fairly. We trust our coworkers to be honest in their communications with us. We want and expect a “what you see is what you get” environment. And when this environment is achieved, productivity increases, and turnover is reduced.

Here is a quick integrity checklist to consider:

Tell the truth: The fastest way to erode integrity is telling one story to one person and telling another story to someone else. Be consistent and honest with everyone.

Follow through: In essence, keep your word. If you promote a narrative that is unrealistic or designed to placate your team, time will eventually out your true intentions and your credibility will take a hit. Create initiatives that you know you can deliver.

Be authentic: Sometimes coworkers will claim credit for an idea or output done by someone else, usually a subordinate. Promoting good ideas is good practice, and so is giving credit where it is due.

Dispense discipline evenly: No one can keep others from malfeasance, but make sure discipline is applied evenly up the company ladder. Integrity entails accepting accountability, no matter how important one’s position is within the company.  Good leaders are the first to come clean.

Every time we allow our integrity to become compromised, especially when we do so without immediate consequences, it becomes easier to duplicate our subpar behavior. Integrity is the bridge between vision and performance. Here’s the good news, every day is a new opportunity to live in profound integrity.