Leadership and Integrity – Does your Management Have Integrity?
I believe one of the most important principles of leadership and one of the top attributes of a great leader is integrity. It’s ideally a concept of consistency of actions, of values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes. It also means telling the truth even if the truth is ugly.
In Cyprus, we have many internationally renowned musicians and pedagogues coming to give concerts and I’m happy to interview them. Many teach at universities and music colleges around the world, and I often ask “What do you say to the student you know is not going to ‘make it’ as a performing musician?” It’s a really difficult question as the college needs the students for financial survival, but what about the integrity of the teacher?
With maybe one exception, all have replied “We don't tell anyone they won’t make it, but try to guide them into more realistic expectations.”
So, Dwight D Eisenhower’s comment is still very apt and true - “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football filed, in an army, or in an office.”
A business which runs with strong, ethical management teams enhances its ability to attract not only investors and customers, but also talented professionals who want to create a culture that values integrity. Why is it then clearly not at the top of the agenda of so many companies?
If it is merely populist words and not something leaders display through specific behavioural actions then integrity is lacking. Employees want to see the most visible members of the organisation leading through actions. They have to hold the highest moral compass and be accountable.
3 tips for leaders and managers looking to develop and even more importantly, display their integrity are:
- Be honest and treat people well. Be quick to praise the contributions of your staff.
- Treat everyone in the same way, regardless of their standing in the organisation. The cleaning staff are as important as the most dynamic salesperson.
- Check how others view you – talk to your employees about what they think you do well and what you can do better. Your employees will not view it as a vulnerability but as a strength.