Posts Tagged ‘Integrity’

A couple of days ago I had an incident at work that was jaw dropping for me.  I announced a decision to limit the number of comments per person I will allow in one particular internal social network discussion group that is prone to bickering over political issues.  Since the purpose of the network is to foster positive connections and communication, I felt it necessary to minimize such unhelpful non-business online banter.  The vast majority of people immediately agreed and showed their support.

Inconceivably, one person – aware that I am conservative – commented on my announcement with something like “I suppose this will only be applied to Obama supporters.”  My jaw dropped when I read that.  My brief response was “Excuse me?”

In 2.5 years of managing our internal network, nobody – and I mean nobody – has ever questioned the integrity or fairness with which I manage, nor do they nor will they ever have a reason to do so.  I apply the same rules to all, doing what is in the best interest of the growth and usefulness of the community in accomplishing business goals.  I challenge anyone to show evidence to the contrary.  So when someone spewed such an unfounded accusation publicly for all to see, many were stunned to see it, not the least of which was me.

Accusations are either true or they aren’t.  If they are true, then there needs to be admission of wrongdoing and behavior needs to change accordingly.  If accusations are false, the accused needs to stand firm and continue behaving properly, aware that you can’t stop accusations from coming your way, but you don’t have to be sidetracked by false ones.  You can carry on with confidence.

I’ve been on the giving side and the receiving side of accusations regarding integrity.  Neither side is fun, although in the case of uncovering truth that is hidden, it is an uncomfortable but necessary process.  If you’re the accuser, make darn sure you have the evidence before accusing. If you’re the accused, just tell the truth.

Integrity may not mean much to some people, but it means a whole lot to me.

Leap year lesson #291 is Guard your integrity with consistent behavior.

Leaders need to tell their people the truth.  That goes for governments, businesses, civic organizations, churches and any other group.  When there is no longer the solid belief that you are being told the truth by someone in a position of authority, then there is no longer the basis for trust that must be there in order to continue that relationship.

These thoughts come to mind because of a situation I am aware of in an organization I belong to outside of work.  I won’t be too specific here because this isn’t the proper place or the time to divulge details, but I can at least draw from it a daily lesson learned.

Participation is this group is voluntary, but long-term relationships run deep.  The thought of turmoil, conflict, angst, distrust and hurt feelings in this group sickens me.  The thought of leaders lying to their people sickens me more.

There are some hard, private, one-on-one conversations that need to happen soon to avoid things unfolding in a terrible way that damages more people and the organization.  Leadership needs to stop trying to save face, and stop hoping that the matter and certain individuals go away.  Instead, they need to be honest with their people, own up to their actions and the reasons for them, and trust that the situation is one we can get through if they tell their people the truth.  In the absence of that, they forfeit their right to lead and I can freely exercise my right not to follow.

I know this all sounds vague to a reader not involved with my situation, but the point of the lesson is what is important, not the details of it.  That lesson is that we can never afford to get to a place where leaders lying to their people is acceptable.  We may cynically accept it in politics (although we shouldn’t).  In government and other organizations we belong to, we must challenge and hold accountable leaders to tell us the truth, or it is time for that leadership to change.

Effective leadership requires trust.  Trust involves integrity.  Integrity demands honesty.

Leap year lesson #272 is Leaders can’t lie and still lead.