True Leaders Are People of Integrity

June 23, 2010

John W. Marriott III, Executive VP for Marriott International, Inc., once said, “When asked what qualities we are seeking in future leaders of Marriott, I’m quick to list the characteristics we admire: customer-focused, diligent, intelligent, caring, and the list goes on. But, here’s the reality: a person must have integrity. If they don’t, they won’t last long in our organization. Integrity is the most important attribute a successful associate, manager or executive can possess. And yet, it seems that people with a strong set of principles are among the hardest to find. When we do find people with integrity, we keep them, we promote them, and we ask them to lead others. In other words, integrity works.”

True leaders understand that it is essential that they lead with integrity, because people follow people they trust.  If they make a mistake they don’t cover it up or blame someone else—they admit it. If they make a commitment to a an employee, colleague, or superior—they keep it.

The word integrity stems from the Latin adjective, integer (meaning whole or complete). Synonyms for integrity include: candor, forthrightness, goodness, honesty, honorableness, and incorruptibility.

Why is integrity so important? Because lack of integrity in a leader immediately causes others (both inside and outside the organization) to lose trust in them; and it’s character-based trust that binds people (including spouses) to each other. Just as soldiers follow leaders they trust into battle, especially those who are willing to “take point” (i.e., assume the most exposed position),  employees follow leaders they trust.

True leaders know that trust is essential to maintaining high morale in an organization, and that lack of trust destroys morale and motivation. As Dr. Henry Cloud, clinical psychologist and corporate consultant, said in his 2009 book entitled, Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, a lack of integrity is bound to result in failure in three key areas:
1. Hitting a performance ceiling that is much lower than ones aptitude
2. Hitting an obstacle or situation that derails you
3. Reaching great success only to self destruct and lose it all.

As people of integrity, true leaders are willing to take “unpopular” stands and are willing to say, “No,” when doing so is the only ethical choice. W. Clement Stone shared this admonition, “Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.”

Allen Stalvey
Director of Operations / Program Director
Dallas / Fort Worth Area
http://allenstalvey.com


True Leaders Have a Passion for the Business, and for Their People

January 11, 2010

True leaders are passionate people, and the best leaders have both a passion for the business AND a passion for their people.

It’s not all about them, but about the success of the organizations they lead, and in turn, the success of people who join them on the journey. Their enthusiasm and pride in their work, and their desire to see each individual reach their full potential, inspires others to follow them and put forth their best efforts. People follow them because they know their efforts will be recognized and rewarded.

Great leaders realize that their organization’s best customers will be treated no better than how they treat their employeesand with that in mind they ensure employees are treated as the valuable assets they are.

When Eastern Airlines was purchased by Texas Air, led by Frank Lorenzo, in 1986—new policies and practices caused a severe decline in employee morale, and these declines were readily apparent to Eastern Airlines’ customers. I know, because I flew on Eastern Airlines at the time employee morale plummeted, and their low morale caused me (as well as many others) to not want to fly Eastern again. Interestingly enough, Lorenzo was named by Time Magazine as one of the ten worst bosses of the century, and vilified in a Time article titled “Bosses from Hell.”

In Leading at a Higher Level, Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, suggests that leadership needs to be grounded in humility, and that it is essential to focus on the greater good of people and the organization. I agree with Blanchard when he says, that leadership is, “the capacity to influence others by unleashing the power and potential of people and organizations for the greater good [emphasis mine].

Allen Stalvey
Director of Operations / Program Director
Dallas / Fort Worth Area
http://allenstalvey.com