Tag Archives: integrity

Giving at the Office… A leader’s Best Gifts

Got your Christmas shopping done yet? That’s a common question at this time of year and one that usually causes my eyes to roll up in my head because procrastination is my middle name. Actually my middle name is Mary but you know what I mean. Anyway, the Christmas shopping question tends to push my “get moving” button before I’m actually ready to er, get moving.

Nonetheless, once in gear, I manage to rise to the occasion long enough to consider things that might delight my loved ones and please my friends.  After all, it is not the gift itself that is the reward.  It is the happiness element that comes with it that makes gift -giving so much fun.

I like the idea of happiness being the real gift and I think it translates well too, when it comes to exchanging gifts at work.  Of course, it is always a little more challenging to give meaningful gifts to people at work, but here are a few ideas to consider.  They cost nothing. They can have lasting effects.  And, to the best of my knowledge, they aren’t fattening.

The Gift of Attention

Give a few minutes of your undivided attention to each of the people you lead, each day.

That means spending the time listening, being curious about their interests, thoughts and opinions and suspending judgment long enough to learn something about them that you might otherwise miss.

The Gift of Inclusion

Take a little time to remind those you lead, why you come to work everyday.  Give them the big picture (even if you’ve done it before) and show them how they fit into it as individuals.  Yes, I know, it’s the old vision thing again. But, believe me, when people can see where they are going and that there is a place for them on the proverbial bus, that creates some happiness.

The Gift of Challenge

Consider those you lead and give each a challenge for the New Year that will allow them to stretch, grow, and learn more about themselves and what they can do.

I hazard to say that everyone likes a challenge.  It gets the juices flowing and allows us to test our boundaries. Giving the gift of challenge suggests faith in each person’s capability and potential.  And, its value is that much greater at times when the individual doubts or fears his or her own possibilities.

The Gift of Encouragement

Of course challenge on its own can become onerous if not accompanied by encouragement and the support that goes with it.  So, with each gift of challenge, include whatever each person might need to accomplish it, including resources, education, training or a friendly ear.  That will ensure, I think, the highest possible opportunity for success and resulting happiness.

The Gift of Truth

Find ways to convey to those you lead that you will always be straight with them no matter what the circumstances.  And then make sure you follow through.

Leaders who are truthful, both in good times and bad also give the gift of useful information.  Useful information allows people to make good decisions for themselves.  Being Truthful with them acknowledges their capability to respond as adults.   It is respectful.  And, even if the news is not good, it gives them their best opportunity to work through it and find satisfying resolutions.

This of course is not an exhaustive list.  They are only the gifts that first come to mind for me.  What gifts do you have in mind for those you lead?  Please feel free to add to the list!

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Filed under Building Relationships, Leadership Style, Leadership Values, Leading Teams, motivating & Inspiring

The Leadership of Integrity

No amount of ability is of the slightest avail without honour….. Andrew Carnegie

Good leadership relies on our ability to live our lives with courage, strength of character and honesty. It is harder to do than talk about but without it, leaders can’t thrive for any great length of time regardless of how skilled they may be otherwise.

There have been many prominent leaders who have risen to great heights only to fall with a severe thud because they have acted solely out of self-interest.  Sadly and frustratingly, there is a lot of evidence of this lately.

These people have, or are experiencing the consequences of a kind of self-absorption, that assumes that power gives one a certain exemption from behaving responsibly and honestly.

What they seem to have ignored or failed to understand, is that the more powerful we become, the greater is our responsibility to others. And , when leaders go awry of honourable actions, the impact of their behaviour is felt very deeply by people who have had little, if anything, to do with decisions made on their behalf. At these times, honour is offered as a sacrifice to greed and trust is destroyed. Without trust, the chances of building a successful business or generally living a successful life, however you define it, are very poor.

Trust too, is one of those things that often takes a long time to build but only a minute to destroy. As such, it is a thing to be treasured and protected. That’s where strength of character comes in, and where telling the truth and keeping promises become vital.

Okay, so we’re all human and who among us has never told a lie? But, the consequences of deception and lies often have a greater impact than we think when we first venture into the realm of the untruth. It is a lesson that most of us learn eventually.

I think that there is a certain arrogance in believing that the rules of the universe apply to everyone but me. And, believe me, there have been times when I have been very arrogant in that direction… always with a poor result.

Maybe this is what happens to business leaders who come to believe in their own importance to the exclusion of everything else.

Skill and talent can take us only so far. To travel the rest of the way, we must make sure that we bring with us a large measure of honourable intent, concern for the welfare of others and the willingness and courage to do what is right, even when it means giving up something we want very badly.  And that’s what makes it so hard.

Here’s Something to Watch: Al Pacino talks about integrity and leadership in Scent of a Woman

Something to think about: When was the last time you had to make a tough choice, when doing the right thing meant you had to give something up?  What did you lose?  What did you gain?  How did it affect your life?

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The Essential Tool Kit of Good Leadership

I think it is safe to say that leadership is a journey, and like most expeditions, there are a few essential things that have to come along with us if we are going to make it a worthwhile experience.

Here are four  that come to mind for me:

1.     A sense of Humour: Leadership is a very serious subject and good leadership is an essential part of any successful enterprise.  But to me, the load is so much lighter when we take ourselves less seriously than the work.  So, lighten up.  Know that you will make mistakes (some people like to call these learning opportunities…uh huh).  If you don’t already know how, learn to laugh at yourself before everyone else beats you to it.  Believe me, it’s very therapeutic and, if I were to be completely honest, it’s a great defense mechanism too!

2.     Curiosity Remember when you were a kid and asked questions like bullets coming out of a gun?  You wanted to know why the sky was blue; how come fish could breathe in the ocean; and why the lady next door always wore that silly hat with the big red feather.    We learned over time to be more discerning in our questioning practices so as not to be annoying or embarrass anyone. And we learned to mind our own business because it was polite.  Sadly, for many of us, along with all of that went a great deal of this natural drive to learn and know about things and people.  But curiosity is an invaluable exploration tool for leaders in business, or any other area of life.  Why are things the way they are?  What can be changed to make them better?  What would life be like if we did Y instead of X?  Curiosity opens up the imagination and allows for progress to be made in an interesting and fruitful way.

3.     Belief in yourself If you are a new leader, the prospect of being responsible for the outcomes and development of others can be pretty daunting.  But, know this.  You were chosen to lead for a reason.  Believe that you are in the place that you are supposed to be.  Trust your instincts.  And then do what you have to do to prove yourself right.  That’s sometimes called “fake it ’til you make it”

4.     Humility, Will, Integrity and Courage I’ve bunched these together because to me, they are the cornerstones of good, even great, leadership.  You can’t leave home without them folks. And to have one or two but not the others makes for an inconsistent and possibly unstable environment

Humility is about acknowledging, through actions, that being of service to something, someone, or a group of someones in the accomplishment of things greater than ourselves is more important than serving our individual wants and needs.  This is often hard to do but those who accomplish it and couple it with a strong Will to get the job done (whatever it might be) are the kinds of leaders that make great things happen.  Jim Collins, who wrote Good to Great- Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t calls this kind of leadership Level 5 and while his book is aimed at executive leaders, there are lessons there for all of us.

Courage and integrity work hand in glove as well.  In my observation, one of the biggest issues in workplaces today is trust, or the lack thereof.  Leaders with courage and integrity will recognize not only the power their positions provide but also the burden of responsibility that goes along with it.  These leaders do what they say they are going to do.  They operate from a set of principles that are transparent to everyone.  And when change raises its sometimes ugly head, they are not afraid to go first; test the water and encourage and inspire others to follow.  Leading from a place of courage and integrity engenders trust and solid followership regardless of whether you lead a multi-national corporation or a small group within an organization.

There are of course many other values on which leaders draw to be effective and to achieve the results they need to create success.  Those I have described represent the basics.  So, if you want to delve further into the realm of personal values, here are a couple of suggestions:

Something to Read: Here’s a link to an excerpt from a book entitled: The Seven Heavenly Virtues of Leadership by Margaret Thorsborne.  The article addresses the value of integrity to our lives in general and leadership in particular.

Something to try: How about spending a little time focusing on your own values?  There is no limit to the number.  The only rule is that they have to be true for you, not what you think others expect of you.

So here’s a couple of questions to help get you started:

1. What has to be present in my life for me to feel strong and content?

2. What makes me really angry? (I mean really angry)

Answer the questions as honestly as possible and then write down the values that come to mind.  For instance if you feel really alive and vital when you are tackling a complex problem then perhaps challenge and/or learning are important values for you.

Whatever you do, have fun with it and Let me know how it worked for you!

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Filed under Leadership Values