Integrity & Trust

“Success will come and go, but integrity is forever,” Amy Reese Anderson, angel investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.  This short and simple statement says a lot about what we as leaders need to think about each day.  If we fail to behave with integrity, we will never be viewed as possessing this quality and our ability to lead will be compromised.  If we focus solely on our personal success, the people that we lead will see this, our peers will see this, and those that lead us will see this.

What’s at Stake?

Quality organizational cultures demand leaders who possess a sound system of values upon which their decisions are based.  If those that we lead see us as people with integrity, trust will result.  An environment that is rich in trust produces loyalty from the workforce – they are engaged, they feel the sense of camaraderie that exists, and they will want to deliver for the organization.

On the other hand, organizational cultures that are lacking in integrity will likely experience a cynical workforce, lower employee engagement, and increased turnover levels.  These symptoms can combine to reduce productivity, customer service levels, and organizational success.

What Can I Do to Encourage It?

As a leader, you already recognize that you are on stage and constantly in the limelight.  Your team looks to you and views your behaviors as role modeling what is expected of them.  While integrity has a profound impact on organizational culture, the behaviors needed to demonstrate this value are quite simple.  These behaviors which can also lead to a trust filled environment include:

  • Sticking with people over the long haul.
  • Admitting mistakes and using mistakes as an opportunity for improvement.
  • Fixing processes rather than blaming people.
  • Respecting those that you work with.
  • Treating people fairly.

Consistency is also an important attribute.  When your employees know what to expect from you regardless of the situation, this adds to your credibility and provides for your team an important level of comfort.

What Outcomes Can I Expect?

As a leader who displays a high degree of integrity where the organization benefits from a trust-filled environment, organizational behavior will shift markedly towards a workplace filled with collaboration and teamwork.  Moral and ethical behavior is reinforced and an environment filled with mutual respect is the norm.  This contributes to a culture of inclusion, which helps the teams’ creative drive and ultimately leads to increased risk taking which can produce positive organizational outcomes.

Conclusion

Bringing integrity to our roles as organizational leaders is an essential component of our success.  Integrity is vital to the establishment of a trust-filled environment.  Together, integrity and trust represent a powerful team for when they align positive outcomes are achievable by all.  We, as leaders, have an obligation to see to the success of our organizations and a very simple first step in realizing this success is behaving with integrity.