Staying true to your core values and being open and honest when making important decisions are crucial in both our personal and business lives. However, whether you lead a large corporate team or run a small business, acting with integrity and making sure those around you follow suit can pose specific challenges.
Tiffany Cannava, Senior Strategist at GKollaborative, and Chelsea Wilkerson, CEO of Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida, share their top tips for leading with honesty and transparency in any organization.
1. Be Prepared to Be Transparent
In order to run an organization or team with integrity, it is important that you can back up that request and lead by example. “Integrity is about having strong moral principles and always looking at things in an honest, upright way,” says Tiffany Cannava. “Give people the benefit of the doubt, but also be able to filter through a lens of honesty, being an example to the people around you. If you have high integrity, those around you will hopefully rise to that level of expectation.”
It would stand to reason, then, that if you are honest and make decisions with integrity, being transparent and being able to defend those decisions shouldn’t be a challenge. “It’s freeing to have nothing to hide, both personally and in business,” Chelsea Wilkerson says. “Be open and transparent about what you’re doing. In decision making, be prepared to be transparent and defend the decision that you’ve made.”
2. Interview for Integrity
Another important component of running an organization with integrity is choosing honest, trustworthy people to be a part of it. Our experts offer a few tips to keep in mind when interviewing to quickly spot honesty or dishonesty in a potential candidate.
“I ask questions about different scenarios, then I go with my gut,” says Chelsea. “Are they coming from a place of sincerity or are they telling you what you want to hear? Read body language and trust your instinct.”
Tiffany recommends that you “note people by who they are connected with if you know the network well,” adding that, “like-minded people come together, so you can get a read about who’s in their circle and where they work.”
3. Recognize When It Might Be Time to Move On
Unfortunately for some, instances do occur when a choice must be made between acting with integrity and potentially burning a bridge. “The struggle is that we’re all trying to build careers and don’t want to burn bridges,” says Chelsea. “We want to find a balance between doing the right thing and not putting ourselves in a position to be viewed as a troublemaker in our industry. My advice is to stay true to yourself and true to your core. Always be able to defend it.”
Tiffany adds that “board members are not always willing to dig in and have the really difficult conversations. There is an opportunity to build in this area as a whole.”
If you are unable to strike a working balance and remain true and honest to your values, this may be a sign that it’s time to move on from this particular organization.
Leading with integrity is all about staying true to your core values, being transparent and prepared to defend any decision you make and creating a team of honest, trustworthy individuals. If you find that these qualities are simply not possible within your current role or organization, it may be time to move into a new role that will better allow for and encourage integrity.
We plan to continue our Just Ask TCI virtual program into 2020! It will remain free and open to the public, taking place from noon to 1:00 ET on the third Friday of every month. So bring your friends, grab some lunch, and join in on the discussion!