Instead of telling employees what they want to hear, tell them what they need to hear.
Leaders are often expected to be all things to all people in an organization. They're the inspiration, the idea maker, the strategist, the empathetic listener, just to name a few. While being all of these things sounds great, it isn't necessarily attainable. But as a leader, what is attainable is embodying a sound sense of integrity.
When you bolster a strong moral code of conduct and treat those around you well, it becomes possible to be the best version of yourself. That is far better than being everything to everyone. The truth is, most people want to work for and be around someone who lives up to their word and strives to do the right thing.
Integrity comes down to doing the right thing when you are alone. At the end of the day, only you will know what you do when no one is around. And that is where the true test of integrity lies.
Here are three ways to audit where you stand with your integrity and build honor into your life.
1. Stick to your commitments.
Commitments are not solely dedicated to working deadlines, project goals, or team promises. The most important commitments to keep are the ones you make with yourself.
When you are committed to doing something, you must find the strength to execute and follow through. The easiest way to find this perseverance is to consider the outcome if you didn't. Not following through will likely fill you with regret, avoidance, and ultimately, shame. These emotions carry into all other aspects of your life. If you can't keep the promises you make to yourself, how can you expect to keep promises for others?
A few years ago, I committed to journal daily. Every morning, right when I wake up, I have a decision to make. Am I going to stick to my commitment, or break my promise and let myself down? The answer became easy, and over time I found taking the time to journal wasn't even a thought. This habit, this commitment, became a part of who I am.
2. Live in alignment with your values.
Don't lie to yourself. It is easy to recognize the value of being honest and keeping your word with employees, business partners, family members, and loved ones. But what about being honest with yourself?
To live a life of integrity, you need to be very truthful about what you value and want to build your life around. To do this, you must first acknowledge what you are lacking and needs improvement.
I went through a season of life where my main focus was my business, and along the way, I felt off. It wasn't until I recognized that one of my core values is connecting with those I care about and realized how absent that was from my daily life. So I set out to build time into my calendar every day to touch base with at least one person in my personal life. I even went as far as to start a podcast where I would drive into a deep connecting conversation with someone I admired every week. These actions brought me back to living my values and in alignment with myself.
3. Adjust your words.
You don't need to make promises to people. Instead of telling people what they want to hear, tell them what they need to hear. Today, I say "no" to people more than I say "yes" to them. If I walked around saying "yes" to every amazing person or opportunity that presented itself, I would be out of integrity. Why? Because I wouldn't be giving my all to each promise I've made.
I have gotten very clear on what to say "no" to and wholeheartedly say "yes" to. Don't get me wrong, saying "yes" is vital to discovering what you want and learning who you are. Once you work through this season of your life and know what your clear values are, it becomes easy to say "no."
If you have teams and projects you have made commitments to and find yourself running out of steam, you will be challenging your own integrity and impact others along the way.
Build your integrity, and you will build your success.