We can't just talk about Integrity. We must DO Integrity.
Lots of leaders talk about Integrity. They claim Integrity is the top attribute they want from a new hire. Integrity is probably the most common core value that organizations proclaim. The saying is easy. The doing is hard. Many well intentioned leaders talk a good game when it comes to Integrity, but they set a bad example when it comes to putting their convictions into action.
I'm not saying these leaders are running around intentionally deceiving people. But many, including me, have set a bad example in the simplest tests of our Integrity. Some of the simplest tests are set up by the commitments we make. What commitments are the ones many leaders fail to fulfill? How about:
"I'll check into that for you."
"I'll follow up with you on Monday."
"I am open to feedback."
When we make these statements, we are making a commitment - a promise. Too often, I have made these same statements with good intentions and then let those promises slide. Other things distract me, or I procrastinate. I don't look back at my notes, and later realize I failed to fulfill another promise by the agreed upon deadline. I am sure I am not the only one. But the more we do it, the more it becomes a habit - a bad habit of character.
We may make ourselves feel better and rationalize away the importance of those commitments. We have so many things to do. An unscheduled meeting or something else makes the commitment fall to the bottom of our priority list. These things happen to all of us. But we have to ask ourselves these questions:
Is our word important to us?
If people don't believe our word is important to us, why should their word be important to them?
As we stated in last week's blog, the root word for Integrity is integer. Integer means whole or pure. The purity of a piece of gold establishes its value. That is the same for our word. When we make a commitment, if we are hit and miss on fulfilling those simple promises we make so quickly, why should anyone value our word?
A leader at work or at home, who wants to inspire Integrity in the people we lead, has to not only talk about Integrity, but also DO Integrity. The small tests come daily and prepare us for the big test to come. Our teams and our families are watching how we respond to those tests. Each time we fall short on those tests, we cheapen the value of our word. This also sets the example that Integrity is cheap for everyone.
The leaders in any organization, whether it is a Fortune 500 company, a law enforcement agency, a smaller work team, or a family, establish the value of Integrity through both their words and their actions. No matter who we are, or what title we hold, our Integrity will be valued based on how we keep our commitments - the big commitments and the small ones.
Dig Deep Questions:
What value do you place on your Integrity?
Would the people observing you set the same price on your Integrity?