Integrity is the most important leadership attribute. Ultimately, we want to work with people who are ethical. More importantly, we want to work for ethical people. If you know your leader acts with integrity, then you know they will not only do what is right for the business, but they will do right by you as well. Leaders with integrity improve businesses. When companies have ethical leadership teams it’s easier to attract customers, investors, and professionals to work for you.
As a leader, it’s important that you recognize the importance of your decisions, words, and actions. How you contribute to the culture and values of the company is important, and it’s a way for you to display your integrity. Some experts believe that leadership is built from three pillars of trustworthiness and of those, integrity is one. To lead, you need followers and that requires trust. There is no trust without kindness, ability, and integrity. Your employees will show their vulnerabilities when you work with them and show your willingness to help them better themselves and the business.
We judge our leaders on competence and the content of their character. Within character, falls integrity. Your integrity will let your employees know whether you are a friend or a foe. Integrity is associated with good intentions and kindness.
Many leaders claim to value integrity, but is it legit or are they just seizing buzz words? Ask yourself, what is integrity, what does it really mean? You should be able to answer that and if you can’t, then there’s a good chance you aren’t serious about acting with integrity.
To lead with integrity, you need to first determine what that looks like in your business. How can it be highlighted and emphasized every step of the way? It has to start at the very top and it’s up to every leader in your business or organization to act with integrity and demand the same of your employees. Leaders are role models, and if they don’t actively display their expectations through their actions, then the employees won’t follow suit.
Practical Ways to Display Integrity
Ultimately, treat others well and act honestly at all times. Don’t be tempted to exaggerate your actions or success, but be quick to praise the contributions of others. You should hold yourself accountable to your employees, your peers, and your own leader(s). Treat everyone kindly and be fair in everything that you do, no matter whom you are dealing with.
Do you do as you tell others to? If you set a meeting for 9 am, do you arrive on time? Part of displaying integrity is honoring your commitments and showing others that you respect their time. You should always take your schedule (and deadlines) seriously. Just because no one will question you when you arrive late doesn’t mean that you should hold yourself to a different standard. Every behavior you display is an example, are yours good or bad?
Leadership is stressful and it’s easy to crack under pressure. It says a lot about you as a leader, how you act and speak when you’re under pressure. Your behavior during stressful periods is magnified, everyone around you sees it and it’s your opportunity to role model integrity and stress management.
Don’t underestimate how powerful your actions are at displaying your integrity. Think about the words that you use and the actions that you choose to follow through with. Do they align or are you all talk? Is your desire to lead with integrity an empty promise or do you really mean what you say?
Do you lead with integrity or do you have more work to do?
8 Ways You Can Lead by Example
If you have ever worked for an effective leader, you know that what makes them most effective is they lead by example. Setting the right example for others on your team shows can motivate and inspire them. It shows others that you can be trusted and respected because you are willing to do the same things you are asking of others.
Leaders who do not lead by example are seen as having a double standard, which feels unfair to others. After all, why should they follow you into a difficult situation if you are not willing to get your hands dirty, too? Being a good leader means knowing when it is necessary to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Here are the top eight ways that you can lead by example, no matter your role or title.
Being truthful with others show that you are honest and trustworthy. Even when the truth is hard, ESPECIALLY when the truth is hard, you should always be honest with others. Honesty helps others to see your integrity, which also means they will trust you to honor your promises. The more people believe you, the harder they are willing to work and the better results you will get.
No matter the situation, it is crucial that you accept responsibility for the success or failure of your team. Taking responsibility for your actions shows that you can be trusted, and it allows others to see how this trait is one that should be cultivated in all team members. Do not blame or make excuses. Accept your part in whatever is happening and learn from each experience.
One of the best ways you can lead by example is to listen to your colleagues actively. Listening implies that you are trying to understand someone. Listening encourages others to share ideas and perspectives, which can ultimately help the process. Do not feel like you always must have the answers. Allow others to be a part of the process, too.
Another meaningful way you can lead by example is by showing others that your health and wellness is just as important to you as your work or your team’s success. Modeling healthy priorities allows others to feel like they too can take the time necessary to take care of themselves. Self-care will enable you to remain balanced and successful, so make sure others know that it is essential.
You expect others to find solutions and work hard, so you should always be ready to do the same. Being persistent shows others that you know how to overcome obstacles, that you will not falter in the face of adversity, and that they can count on you to be beside them when things get tough.
Showing others that you are open to learning new skills and mindsets shows them you are adaptable, accessible, and solution-focused. When you behave as if you already know all the answers, people will be less likely to want to work with you. You are open-mindedness by modeling lifelong learning and growth.
It can be hard to walk straight into a tricky situation without flinching, but that’s exactly what leaders do. It is okay to feel fear, but it is not okay to allow fear to rule your behavior. Being courageous means acting even in the face of fear, and that’s what others are looking for in a leader. Show them what you are made of in all tough situations, and they will follow you anywhere.
The best way you can lead by example is always to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get the work done. No one will want to follow you if you are demanding they stay late but are home at a decent hour every night. When the going gets tough, you should be in the trenches with your team, no matter the hour. Showing you are not afraid to work hard allows them to know you will be there for them, no matter what.