My favorite question related to integrity is, who are you when no one is watching?
Integrity in business sounds like a no-brainer, but many good people have been tripped up by it. In my corporate career, two of my bosses went to jail. They were good people. They had wives and families but got caught up trying to get out from under financial losses due to acquisitions the organization had made. I don’t believe they made their actions with malicious intent, but rather they made poor decisions because they only saw one way out. It changed their lives forever and that of the company too. It no longer exists.
Now that may sound dramatic, and yes, it was a very complicated situation. Integrity was at the heart of it. Integrity sometimes requires bravery and courage to do the right thing, even when you know what the consequences will be.
The smaller things we lose integrity around can build up as well. It can erode our effectiveness, influence, and impact. As leaders, we need to make sure that our decision-making stays true to who we are, what we stand for, who we are leading, and overall what is right.
As women in business or emerging leaders on the rise especially, our integrity is the keystone of what we have to offer. It is how we create respect and build trust, and it takes time to do so. Unfortunately, one bad decision can knock all of that away in an instant.
Integrity is also hard to measure. Do you have it? Some of it? Need more of it? How do you tell?
Here 10 questions that can help you get a feel for where you are with your integrity and how you might strengthen it. Fully consider these questions and determine what areas do you feel confident in? Which do you sense would be a challenge for you in certain situations?
1. Do you take full responsibility for your actions? Even mistakes?
2. Do you give others full credit for their ideas and participation?
3. Do you respect others? Their beliefs?
4. Are you authentic in how you show up personally and professionally? Or are you someone else at work?
5. Are you afraid to be wrong and therefore always need to be right?
6. Do you speak up when you know something is wrong?
7. Do others consider you trustworthy? Are you reliable and consistent?
8. Do you struggle to make tough decisions?
9. Do you have a fear of or avoid difficult conversations?
10. Do you walk the talk? Are you setting a good example? For your direct reports and your children?
Building your integrity is a process, and it requires self-awareness and a willingness to be introspective. It requires that you give yourself the time to think things through, a luxury many of us don’t give ourselves because we’re trying to keep all the balls in the air. But when your reputation is at stake, how can you not take the time?
Consider these questions and the influence you want to have in your leadership and your life. Build your integrity around that.
Here’s wishing you the Clarity and the integrity you deserve!