Emerson said, “Every great institution is the lengthened shadow of a single person. An individual’s character determines the character of the organization.” Is your’s the shadow that Emerson was talking about?
If you’re in any leadership position you should know that you cast a large shadow on those who follow you. Your shadow can either shade them from difficulties or make their work environment a very dark place.
It all depends on the level of trust YOU create with your people.
Only 45% of 400 managers in a Carnegie-Mellon survey trusted their top management. A third distrusted their immediate bosses. I truly hope your people trust you but you can’t lead by merely hoping you’re trusted. You must work intentionally, every day, to earn the trust and respect of the people you lead.
That trust can only come from a consistent display of integrity. Your integrity comes from your actions, not your image and not the statements you make. Your people will do what they see you doing far faster than they will do what you ask them to do.
When what you say doesn’t match what you do then you can be certain they will do what you did and not what you said to do.
When thinking about the quality of your own integrity consider these questions.
- Are you the same person no matter who you are with?
- Do you make decisions that are best for others when another choice would benefit you?
- Do recognize others for their efforts and contributions to your success? (In writing?)
Image is what people think you are, integrity is what you really are. Asking yourself these three questions can help keep you on track and ensure that your image matches your level of integrity.
Here is one reason integrity is so important for a leader: Integrity has huge influence value. If you have the ability to influence others then your ability to lead is unlimited. Integrity helps a leader be credible, not just clever.
Integrity is a hard-won achievement; it takes a long time to establish it with your team and you never fully complete the task. You must work on your integrity every day because while it’s a long process to earn it, you can lose it overnight.
It’s also a good idea to seek input from others about your integrity. You won’t always see yourself the same way that others may see you. So ask someone who knows you well, in what areas of your life they see you as consistent. (you do what you say) In what areas they see as inconsistent (you say but don’t always live.)
If you don’t like their answers remember, you can change. You can become the leader you want to be, but also remember, you will only become what you are becoming right now.