Tell the Truth! Take a Personal Integrity Inventory

LeaderSHIP 47 Tell the Truth!

All Progress Begins with Telling The Truth.

Trustworthiness—the personal integrity of the leader—is a business asset. Being a leader who is trustworthy – a leader who does what he or she says – has a measurable value for the company’s bottom line. The reason this is true is that workers produce far better results for the leader that they trust than for the leader that they don’t trust. The leadership of an enterprise must be credible – the leader must be believable – if there is to be growth in worker engagement.

All progress begins with Telling The Truth. I call this the T3 Formula. If you choose to become the kind of leader who exercises T3—who Tells The Truth—then the first person you need to tell the truth to is yourself.

However challenging it is to become a truth-teller – that is, a leader who is trustworthy – it is important to know the following:

• Trust is a real, concrete and measurable resource. Trust is as real as liquid assets, as concrete as physical infrastructure, and as measurable as product inventory.

• Trust can be gained. It can be earned. It can grow, compound and appreciate.

• Being trustworthy can be learned. It is not magic, nor elusive, nor vague. It can be mastered as a skill. Indeed, leaders MUST master being trustworthy.

Following are six character habits that I’ve watched closely over the years, six habits that create something like “an integrity configuration” that we can learn to monitor and manage. These six habits are:

Character Habit 1: Tell the truth! Lying begins “innocently.” Were you late for your appointment because you started late? If you started late, don’t say that the traffic was bad! Small lies become big habits. Tell small truths—grow the habit!

Character Habit 2: Be the way that you seem! Live out the values you espouse. If you tell your workers that the customer comes first, then demonstrate in your actions that this is true. Do what is right for your customer! Do you repeatedly break your promises to your customers? Face this fact. Then fix it.

Character Habit 3: Keep your word! If you say you’ll do it, then do it. Show up on time for your appointments. An appointment is a promise. Carry a journal with you in which you write down your “unfulfilled promises.” Review this journal daily. Keep the list short.

Character Habit 4: Accept correction! If you make a mistake about something, admit that you were wrong. Say it! The words sound like this: “I was wrong! I’m sorry!” This is an example of telling yourself the truth in front of others.

Character Habit 5: Take responsibility! You’re a leader. Therefore, you are responsible. If you make excuses for your failures, you will erode people’s trust. Likewise, if you blame others for your failures, people won’t trust you. Establish a policy of “no excuses!” Then stick to your policy!

Character Habit 6: Give proper credit! Was a success that you enjoyed the result of someone else’s idea? Then say so! If you overstate your role, you are committing both theft and deceit. Trustworthiness is established when you say things like: “You are the one who did the good job! Thank you so much!”

One more point needs to be made. You don’t mean it if you don’t measure it. Only things that are measured will get done! If you decide that you want to become trustworthy, then you must be very disciplined about this goal—like all important goals—and you must set measurable mile markers toward your goal and evaluate your progress against the goals that you set.

Business is no different than life. If you want to do well, you will need people to trust you. Trust speeds up decision making. It makes deals work more smoothly, and leads to more business. Customers return to companies that they trust. Employees stay with bosses they trust.

In fact, business is nothing more than a promise. If you are in business, you are making a promise to your customers that your product or service will do for them what you say it will. If they believe you—if they trust you—then you will have a customer, you will make a sale, you will reap a profit, and you will enjoy a prosperous future.

A final warning and a final promise.

First, the warning. You can’t fake “trustworthy.” You can’t practice integrity like some magic trick that gets you something that you want. There is no integrity in gimmickry. What a ridiculous sentence that last sentence is, and yet it needs to be stated. There’s only one sturdy foundation for becoming a person of integrity. We commit to becoming people who do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

And, now, the promise. Integrity is its own reward. Truth lets you sleep at night. Becoming a person of your word is just cool!

I’ve designed a short “Personal Integrity Inventory” that has helped thousands of men and women get their arms around their own truth and to make progress in correcting any gaps they discover. Make a brief comment if you think this would be good to link to this blog. It wouldn’t be difficult to redesign and make it available as as a free download.

Let’s make the commitment to become excellent in truth telling! You with me?


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