Did you know that both employees and CFOs rate integrity as the essential leadership trait? It’s important to note that customers and survey respondents also feel that integrity is critical for those who hold leadership positions. People want to work with individuals who have integrity - people who will treat them fairly. So, what exactly is integrity? Integrity is being honest and having strong moral principles. In theory, integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.
Organizations with ethical leaders are more likely to entice investors, customers, and talented professionals. When someone has integrity, they are honest, responsible, trustworthy, and reliable. Integrity is based on values rather than personal gain. Therefore, maintaining a high level of integrity is imperative for all employees, especially those who hold leadership positions. Leaders who have high levels of integrity foster open and productive workplaces. Workplace integrity is integral not only to organizations but also to individuals. If you show that you are a reliable and trustworthy person, you will gain respect from peers and leaders, which could help your career development and success.
Ethical behavior starts at the top and cascades through the organization, creating a culture that values trust and integrity. Leaders must realize that their words, actions, and decisions are all being watched closely by the employees. If the leader is modeling behavior that lacks integrity, what message does that send to everyone else? Leaders should spend time understanding what integrity looks like for themselves and within the organization. Once that has been determined, the leader should model integrity and reinforce it. Here are some things you can do to demonstrate integrity in the workplace:
Conduct an Internal Audit on Yourself
First, consider people that you admire. Observe the traits and qualities they possess. Which of those qualities do you want to replicate? How successful are you in doing so? If you lack in one or more areas, try to figure out what you can do differently.
Spend some time with others in the workplace and understand how they view you. You might think you know how you are perceived, but the feedback could be surprising. Honest feedback may highlight some weaknesses, but it can always be constructive if you take it to heart and use it to better yourself. Also, look for feedback outside of your workplace. Expand your search to organizations where you are a member. Identify the areas where you can improve, develop a plan with strategies to assist you in those areas, and most importantly - be committed to carrying out your plan. Feedback and plans are no good if you don’t follow through with positive changes.
Everyone makes mistakes, including you. So if you make a mistake, own up to it and fix it.
Leaders need to hold themselves accountable for their actions - to both superiors and peers.
Be Honest and Respectful
Treat others the way you wish to be treated. Even in the best work environments, there will likely be a time when you don’t agree with something. When this happens, it’s important to be respectful and to listen to the opinions of others.
Lead by Example
When you lead and work around others while maintaining a high level of integrity, they will be encouraged to do the same.
Do the Work
We all know someone who “delegates” any and every task possible. But, by showing that you are willing to get your hands dirty and do the work, employees will notice your willingness to go above and beyond. It also shows them that you know what’s involved in their work and that you’re not asking them to do something you can’t do.
As Maya Angelou once famously quoted, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Lead with integrity in all aspects of your life (i.e., professional and personal), and you will leave a positive mark on those around you.
Ready to take the next step? Learn more about becoming an engaged leader with AEU LEAD.
Our mission at AEU LEAD is to enable transformation. For those wanting to transform through the development of soft skills for supervisors and managers, we’re here to help. AEU LEAD strengthens organizations and empowers managers with leadership and safety training tailored to your business. Explore our services or talk with our team to learn more.