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Why is it so hard to do the right thing?


Image by John Popham from Medium

There is a real lack of integrity in some workplaces. Examples may include consistently late employees, lies, and people not adhering to company values. Some employees look for ways to benefit themselves, putting personal rewards before anything else. It also begs the questions why is it so hard to do the right thing?


It seems we have an individualist social phenomena that encourages the me over we mindset. It is particularly easy to see in the marketing of several big brands that prioritize profits over anything and make false or unethical claims. That means that as leaders, we need to stand up and guide the way for our teams. If we don't, chaos will arise and hamper workplace goals and destroy the working environment. Here are some ideas on incorporating integrity as a leader.


What are 5 ways you can show integrity?

Be a role model for your team members. Be consistent with your standards. Provide an ethical platform for others to follow by speaking up when it's right and challenging systems that encourage dishonesty or unethical behaviour.


Stand up for your team. Be open so your team can question company practices or issues they have with other employees. Don't discourage people when they are providing open, honest feedback about ethical issues. Be available for your team, and take any concerns up the chain as needed.


I recall a company I worked with where the manager refused to tell me who was complaining and what exactly the complaints were so then I had no way of discussing it with my coworker or resolving it for my team. Treating employees like children who can't communicate or fight their own battles is demoralizing and unbelievably ineffective.


Keep politics out of work. Being competent and communicative at work is the best way to achieve success. Pay attention to any politics (in this case individualistic strategies) that start to slip into your daily activities. Note behaviours you're aware of and be sure you aren't exhibiting them. We're often taught to be assertive and go after what we want, but not at the expense of our team. Share recognition with those it belongs to and acknowledge others for their contributions and success.

Stand up for what is right. Stand up for what you believe in and encourage others to do the same. Approach adversity by being positive and focused. Gain support from those around you by encouraging others to voice their concerns and by listening to their unique viewpoints. Just because everyone doesn't agree doesn't mean you cannot move forward or have cohesion. It's a leaders role to rally a team behind a group objective.


Model your business's values. Show that you are proud to be an employee of your company. Live its values and set a standard for your team. And if those values need a refresh, then address it and ensure they are values everyone can be proud of. By being a leading example for your team and making sure your performance reflects the same standards you set for your team, they will follow because they believe and trust you.


How to develop integrity as a leader

As a leader, you need to display the integrity that you expect from your team. Show them the path they need to follow and set a standard for them in their own work. Here are a few ways you can work toward developing integrity for yourself.


Define your values. Clearly define your values, principles and beliefs, and then follow them consistently. Colleagues, team members, and executives may try to sway your beliefs, but if they don't fit you, stand strong. Having integrity doesn't mean following society or doing what others believe is right. It means being true to yourself and aligning the values you want to live by.

Keep your word. One sign of someone with integrity is keeping promises. If you aren't sure if you can do something, then let your team know this upfront and expect the same from them.


Face mistakes. There are times when you'll make the wrong decision or mess up on a project. That's ok. It's called being human. Fess up to the error and move on. Learn from the experience so you don't repeat it.


How can we maintain our integrity in the modern world?

Your customers understand the importance of integrity in business, and when doing business with your company, they expect you to do what you say you will do, that you will be fair and treat them well, and that you are going into a relationship with them for mutual benefit. Different cultures experience integrity differently as they have a different set of values and expectations around how to do business, build relationships and interact with others. Being aware of these differences is key to your success doing business in a multicultural environment, or leading a multicultural team which is most likely the case if you're in a North American city.


Image by Rodnae Productions

No matter what culture you are from you expect to be treated with respect, fairness and appreciation. As a leader, it is your job to build a team of like-minded people who share the company vision, beliefs and values. However, you also want folks who can challenge you and provide diverse perspectives so the team gets better. That's how to attract people with integrity and how you create a prideful working environment.


We understand that in times of turmoil, when doom and gloom is at its highest, when businesses are losing money and families are struggling, it's easy to cave and follow a path of what's the best for me right now. Be humble yet confident in your abilities, and you'll create a working environment people will be proud to be a part of and a community where the group is truly working together to make both life and business enjoyable and sustainable for all.


You can start by taking an audit of what stands out as lacking integrity and ethics in your workplace. We'd be happy to help you build a more cohesive and ethical team if you're interested in taking your audit to the next step. Book a time to chat so we can work together to build exactly the custom experience your team needs.

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