At the end of the day, your word is all you have. Do you tell the truth? Do you live up to what you say you’re going to do? Are your actions performed with a deep sense of honesty?
To be a successful leader in business, and in life, everything you say and do has to be transparent and true.
Honesty and integrity are the foundations of leadership and of a thriving company. Moreover, there needs to be an underlying consistency. If a company says that it values integrity and honesty, then it must act in a way that upholds these values. Any disconnect could shatter an organization’s reputation (see: Enron).
Jon Huntsman, Sr. is a multibillionaire who started a chemical company from scratch and grew it into a $12 billion enterprise. His book, Winners Never Cheat, is a compilation of stories from his own life that demonstrate his steadfast commitment to this principle. Huntsman credits integrity for his immense business success. He says: “There are no moral shortcuts in the game of business or life. There are, basically, three kinds of people, the unsuccessful, the temporarily successful, and those who become and remain successful. The difference is character.”
A closer look
Leaders with integrity live life according to the Reality Principle, meaning they are not afraid to face the truth. They see “…the world as it really is, not as [they] wish it to be.” The Reality Principle has its roots in Freudian Psychoanalysis. Introduced by Freud in the early 1900s, he argued that as the mind develops, it is able to properly assess the outside world and act appropriately, despite an urge to do otherwise. Leaders act according to what they know is right, even though this is not always the path of least resistance.
Amy, a blogger for Forbes, explains Integrity like this: “If I could teach only one value to live by, it would be this: Successwill come and go, but integrity is forever. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be. Building a reputation of integrity takes years, but it takes only a second to lose, so never allow yourself to ever do anything that would damage your integrity.” Well said, Amy. Well said.
Lisa Krohn, a life coach who preaches on the importance of integrity within the work place, explains it like this: "When people choose to lead with integrity they position themselves at the top of their industry. All the other details, like the product, or service, or whatever, come after integrity because people do business with people they know, like, and trust."
If you want your products to be top-of-the-line, you better make sure your character is too. As a business leader, you are the face and voice of your company. Your brand becomes intricately linked with your character, so to show your brand in the best light, you must show yourself in the same way. Stephen Bender of Stephen Bender Media asserts, “…as the face of the brand, the reputation of the owner of the company is as and sometimes more important that the products or services offered."
Warren Buffet, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, sums it up beautifully: “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.”
At the end of the day, all you really have are your reputation and your relationships, so you better always be working to keep them intact.