Once upon a time, in a faraway land, people tolerated lousy behavior and a complete and utter lack of integrity as long as there were great results.
Times have changed.
Agree or disagree, today’s workers, employees, and teammates want leaders with integrity.
But how do you show your team that you have integrity?
Break these laws at your own risk.
1. Lead by Example
We’ve all seen it: A CEO in the press raves about how his employees are like family, but soon enough, the CEO dismisses thousands of loyal teammates. We then hear about the CEO’s bonuses when his/her employees suffered salary or health benefit cuts.
Leaders like these need to practice what they preach.
This is not fearless leadership, and it’s certainly not leading with integrity.
The people who work for you will be watching you to see what you expect of them.
When you lead with integrity, the message is clear; your words match your actions.
But if you say one thing and do another, or if you don’t share in the sacrifices of your team, you’ll lose their respect, and productivity and morale will take a hit.
In today’s hyper-competitive world, you must mean what you say and lead by example.
2. Your Troops Eat First
One of the first things you learn during military officer training is this principle: Your troops eat first. Leaders with integrity always keep their troops in mind. They eat last. This was a survival technique in earlier times—first the horses were fed, then soldiers, then officers.
This principle is just as relevant today as it is on the battlefield.
In the corporate world, it simply means “Take care of your people.”
You may claim your people are the most important thing, but if you protect yourself first, you’ll never inspire your team to follow through.
How can leaders who put themselves first expect their team to put the customer first?
Putting your teammates and employees first is smart leadership. Without them, you are alone and will never be truly successful.
3. Admit Your Mistakes
No one is immune when it comes to our instinct to avoid accountability.
Politicians who stumble, corporate executives who pillage their firms, top athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs, or make other public mistakes—are just a few examples of once-thought-great leaders who failed to own up to their mistakes.
Too often, we base our actions on what people people will think, rather than making a decision based on our values.
If you’ve made a mistake—and most of us have and will—it’s best to admit it and move on quickly.
You’ll lose a lot more by trying to hide a mistake than by owning up and working to earn back trust.
The US Navy Blue Angels always end their debrief comments with “I made this mistake, and I can fix it.”
A lot that we can learn from that one straightforward, leadership, integrity, and accountability statement…
What is stopping you?
Carey Lohrenz is the author of the Wall Street Journal Best Seller “Fearless Leadership: High-Performance Lessons from the Flight Deck.”, a motivational speaker and leadership expert.
Carey has flown missions worldwide as a combat-mission-ready United States Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot. Her extensive experience operating in one of the world’s most challenging environments, an aircraft carrier, and her unique position as one of the first female combat pilots make her the perfect opening or closing inspirational keynote speaker for your corporate meeting or conference.
Carey graduated from the University of Wisconsin where she was a varsity rower, also training at the Pre-Olympic level. After graduation, she attended the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School before starting flight training and her naval career. She has four kids, one yellow lab, and is currently working on her Master’s in Business Administration in Strategic Leadership.