One of the most critical qualities leaders say they must possess is integrity.
When asking leaders what is important for great leadership, there isn’t a time that integrity doesn’t pop-up. It also doesn’t matter what type of job or industry that leaders work, integrity tops almost every list.
How would you define integrity? Here are two definitions:
- the quality of being honest and fair
- the state of being complete or whole
Most of us are more familiar with the first definition even though each of us may have a different understanding of what it means to be honest and fair. But being complete and whole is not something always considered to be connected to integrity. Let’s take a look at combining both descriptions and how we can lead with each.
Five signs you are leading with integrity:
1. YOU SHARE ALL THE INFORMATION
Although we may want to withhold certain information or share it at a later date, it is usually best to present all the facts initially. Think about how many times you jumped to the wrong conclusion because you were missing pieces of information that maybe a boss or client forgot or omitted to pass on. If there is data available and you are on the fence about sharing it, then err on the side of transparency and get it out there. Our teams and colleagues will appreciate our honesty. To formulate a complete and comprehensive deliverable, all the information is necessary.
2. YOU CONSIDER OTHER PEOPLE’S POINTS OF VIEW
If we are in habit of thinking: “It’s my way or the highway”, then forget about an honest relationship with others. We must be fair in recognizing different perspectives. The most powerful question to ask others to lead with integrity is: What are your thoughts? If we forget to ask, we will end up with an incomplete understanding of any situation.
3. YOU COMMUNICATE CLEARLY AND WITH RESPECT
Leaders recognize the importance of stating their needs in a clear and direct way while being respectful of the other person. To communicate with integrity:
- Listen with care to really understand the true message.
- Ask empowering questions that are not judgmental. Instead of asking: “Why do you have that opinion?” ask, “Could you walk me through how you arrived with your idea so I can understand?”
- Tell team members how much you value their contributions.
- Present your ideas as a beginning point of discussion, not as a final verdict.
4. YOU LOOK AT THE NEEDS OF THE ENTIRE TEAM
Teams are made up of individuals with different needs. While one member may see a decision as the best direction, another may view it as debilitating. When we lead with integrity we know it is critical to view how a change impacts both the individual members as well as the team as a whole. This may be very difficult if the needs are in conflict. It is essential to be honest about why a change is occurring and carefully explain why a new solution is necessary.
5. YOU CULTIVATE A TEAM OF TRUST
To be a high performing team and produce great outcomes, there must be a strong foundation of trust. Trust is earned and that involves leaders doing what we say we are going to do and not be misleading. To develop a team of trust and lead with integrity:
- Get to know your team members’ strengths and interests.
- Offer meaningful work to enrich people’s careers.
- Avoid sarcasm and put-downs.
- Be approachable by opening your mind and heart.
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