Welcome Integrity©

One differentiating trait of conscious leaders is that they understand the impact words have on behaviors, and one example of this understanding relates to the theme of integrity within accountability. Our culture today is one where promises are often viewed as nothing more than words—that a “yes” does not equate to a promise. I would hope and expect that any promise would be treated as important by the person making it and that the person receiving it could count on it, yet that does not seem to be the case. Think about how often and how easily people (including you) agree to a demand, a request or a suggestion.

Consider the following examples of exchanges that happen every day both in the workplace and at home:

Question: Can you get this report to me by tomorrow?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Can you call the client today and check in with her?

Answer: Sure.

Question: I need a draft of this to me by Friday morning.

Answer: No problem.

Question: Do you have 15 minutes to talk about the issues with the customer?

Answer: Sure.

Question: Can you get the garage cleaned out this weekend?

Answer: Certainly.

Yes, these seem like fairly clear questions (setting of needs and expectations) with equally clear answers; however, they have come to mean much less than a commitment, and that is one reason that our accountability has become so loose or slippery.

Here is where “integrity” comes in. The great thing about integrity is that it is something that people desire to be known for, something that other people want to see in a leader and something that we can control, mostly by becoming more purposeful about commitments, the meaning of integrity and the desire (demonstrated in actions) to be a person of integrity. Think about it–do you know anyone who wakes up in the morning and plans to be out of integrity during the day? Do you know anyone who has a daily goal to be out of integrity? Of course not. I have found that most people want to be people of integrity, and even people who appear to be willing not to honor promises will change how they think and their behaviors (by honoring their promises) when they see the promises as commitments and they understand that not honoring commitments sets them up as lacking integrity. The problem is that culturally we let people (and ourselves) off the hook all the time when it comes to promises.

While it may be only a matter of a word (integrity), its impact is much bigger; it is transformational when it comes to accountability. If you treated every promise you make as a commitment (and ideally you used the word commitment), then you would do so knowing and understanding that if you fail to honor that commitment, then you are out of integrity. That is a big difference, and it impacts how often and in what ways you honor your commitments. It also impacts the degree of effort you will invest to assure that you honor your commitments. If you knew that not honoring your commitment would create the reality of being out of integrity, how hard would you work to make sure you did what you said you would do? This is the way of conscious leaders, and conscious leaders also take the extra step of incorporating that word (“integrity”) when they fail to honor a commitment.

Here is an example of how a conscious leader would take ownership and responsibility when they fail to meet a commitment: “I am out of integrity. I committed to get this report to you by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, and I was late in getting the report to you.” While it may be difficult to fully tell the truth on yourself, this clear, intentional language of ownership changes everything for a self-accountable leader. It also proves itself as a powerful self-motivator to encourage people to be clear and purposeful in their commitments, do whatever it takes to honor those commitments, and avoid being out of personal integrity.

Conscious leaders understand that leadership includes giving people a reason to think and act in ways that further the mission and vision of the team or the organization. Even better than a leader giving a reason is when this reason comes from within the person. This is precisely the dynamic that is created when the reality of the relationship between commitments and integrity is injected into conversations and the accountability process. When personal integrity is at stake, two things change: 1. People take their commitments more seriously in advance (knowing that their integrity is at risk if they fail to honor their commitments); and 2. People are even more dedicated to the execution of their commitments in order to preserve their personal integrity.

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