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4 Integrity Lessons From Top CEOs


4 Integrity Lessons From Top CEOs

Last year I wrote my first book, on integrity lessons from top CEOs and leaders. ONE FACE doesn’t hit bookstores until June 7th, but here are a few key lessons I learned while writing.

When I started the laborious and daunting process of writing about doing business without sacrificing values, I got plenty of push-back from people who absolutely believed that it can’t be done. There’s no way you can be wildly successful without cutting corners, they told me. I realized fairly quickly that I was going to have to come up with more credible sources than myself if I wanted to present a compelling message.

So I started searching out examples of phenomenal success in people who had reputations for staying true to their values. I got to sit down with incredible leaders like the President of Pepperdine University, a top casting director for Disney & Pixar, the CEOs of Project Gravitas and Chipotle, the Branding VP of Hampton Creek Foods, the guy who’s sold over $100MM of product on HSN, and a former linebacker from the Toronto Argonauts who survived (and forgave) brutal assault by corrupt law enforcement.

These powerhouses of experienced leadership were gracious enough to take the time to share with me their wisdom, stories, and lessons learned the hard way.

What I learned…

During hours and hours of interviews and conversation, I discovered four primary common threads between these top integrity-driven leaders, regardless of their field of expertise:

Hire for character, not experience.

Character is what makes people trustworthy. Reliable. Teachable. Promotable. Without character, it doesn’t matter how much they already know about the job — it’ll backfire sooner or later.

Think long-term legacy, not short-term win.

Make decisions based on what you will value 5 or 10 or 20 years from now. Treat customers with the type of respect that will keep them coming back for that long. Choose your partners based on their commitment to long-term excellence, too.

Focus on doing right.

Whenever you are faced with tough choices, choose the morally right one. There may be fallout in the short-term, but remember that you’re not out for a quick buck. You’re in it for the long-haul. And long-haul reputation is built by doing right.

Know your why.

Never lose sight of what drives you. Pursue an attitude that is constantly awareness of the transcendent purpose that motivates you to slog through the things that are less enjoyable. Fixating on the core values that drive your underlying purpose will keep you going when you want to give up.

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