“The riches of the world pale in comparison to the value of an honest opinion.”
Harvey Mackay, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, Currency, 1997, p. 186.
Integrity-that most important quality
According to John Maxwell, author of ‘Developing the Leader within You’, a survey of 1300 senior US executives found that the human quality most necessary to success is integrity. Maxwell says that integrity must be demonstrated daily in such tangible ways as these:
- Live what you preach. Deciding what to be is more important than deciding what to do. It’s not a case of ‘what are you going to do when you grow up?’ but rather ‘what are you going to be?’. The character decision must be made before a career is chosen.
- Do what you say. If you promise something to a colleague or superior, keep your word. The one unforgivable sin is betraying a trust or breaking a promise.
- Be honest with others. If those you work with ever catch you misrepresenting the facts or covering up, you will lose credibility. And it will not be easy to repair.
- Put what is best for others ahead of what is best for you. Put first your organisation and those you work with. In so doing, you’ll develop friendships and loyalty, and keep integrity with those who employ you.
- Be transparent and vulnerable. ‘Long ago’, writes Maxwell, ‘I realised that in working with people I have two choices… If I close my arms, I won’t get hurt, but I will not get help either. If I open my arms I likely will get hurt, but I will also receive help. So I’ve opened my arms and allowed others to enjoy the journey with me. My greatest gift to others is not a job, but myself. That is true of any leader.’
A model for action
Take some time to think of people who have demonstrated leadership qualities to you. Who are the leaders you know? Make a list of them today. The list could include your boss, co-workers, spouse or relatives, and friends, as well as historical figures, people you’ve met through books, television, or other media. It makes no difference how long you make your list.
Now, why do you consider the people on your list leaders? What did they do to deserve that honour? List their qualities. Explain your reasoning.
To become a leader, you’ll need to develop the same or similar qualities. Would you say you’re already on track? How can you speed up that process? And if you’re not on track, how can you get there?
Use your answers to set some targets for your life, and then proceed to achieve those targets.
How’s your credibility rating?
The manager who creates an atmosphere of trust can get more out of staff. The key is to make it clear you want to know what they really think.
According to the journal ‘Organizational Dynamics’, managers should ask themselves these questions:
- Do I give subordinates’ ideas an unbiased hearing?
- Do I show respect for people who disagree with me?
To win your staff’s trust, you should be honest and direct and listen calmly. Let your staff know how cooperative you can be.
A question of integrity
There are a number of questions you must ask yourself when assessing your integrity. Do you have a good value system? Are you honest, straightforward, and non-manipulating? Do you tell the truth and keep your promises even if circum-stances have changed since you gave your word? Do you avoid even the appearance of impropriety, and are you aware that the company you keep can be a reflection on your own integrity? Do you pay as much attention to the spirit of the law as you do to the letter of the law?
The same questions apply to your organisation. Does it stand behind its products? Do the senior people who sell them-selves to clients and customers as part of the service actually do the work? Does the organisation pay its bills when it says it will? Does it give back to the community or try to get around zoning laws or recycling and dumping ordinances?…
Adapted from Frank Sonnenberg’s Managing with a Conscience.
The keys to doing what is right:
Verify your own values.
Articulate your own ethical grid and philosophy of life.
Learn the proper perspectives on issues.
Unpack right values through action.
Evaluate your growth.
Share these truths (your values) with other people.
Ron Jenson, Future Achievement International
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