Tag Archives: integrity

What does trust have to do with leadership?


Photo Credit: Albumarium.com

I once had an occasion with a leader, who was new to me, in which the circumstances required me to decide on the spot whether to trust without the benefit of a longstanding shared team history. What I saw in this man was unyielding integrity and loyalty to the whole team, which now included me. In my presence, he had only treated others with dignity and respect. His visible character allowed me to make a leap of faith to extend trust. In good faith, I was then able to bring forward the truth of a serious situation that had significant ramifications.  Prior to him, I’m afraid, the truth would have otherwise been complicated by the politics surrounding it.

So, the real question is, how do you build that kind of trust connection with your team? Leaders are forever in the spotlight and must remember that everyone is paying attention to your words and actions. If they see you take a moral short-cut because it will make something easier, you’ve lost. If they see you back-biting and tearing others down, they’ll wonder what you say about them when they’re not in the room. Treating others with dignity and respect is another visible means of judging one’s character. There is no escaping the reality that if they don’t see you acting with loyalty and integrity, building trust will be impossible.

Stop and think about what these components mean:

Loyalty breeds trust. It’s as simple as that. Merriam-Webster defines loyalty as “unswerving allegiance”.

Integrity can be boiled down to doing the right thing, every time, even when no one is looking. This consistent ethical and moral boundary is not only good for you and your team, but your organization benefits as well.

Dignity and Respect means that no matter the position within the organization, individuals deserve to be treated as valuable human beings. From laborer to CEO, your language in addressing them and making requests should remain the same. Leaders need to be consistent. Your behavior should not change just because certain people aren’t in the room.

What do these traits look like in a leader? When there is trouble, people know they’re not in it alone and that they won’t be thrown under the bus as an example to others; you have their back. Consistent accountability. The team is confident that it is safe bring a mistake forward and that redemption is possible. The team sees their leader deal only in the truth, most especially when it’s hard. Doing the right thing, consistently. Standing in the gap. Helping. Making individuals feel valued for doing a good job. Caring.

What does poisonous organizational leadership look like? If any of the following are a part of your team environment, building trust is unlikely: a lack of accountability, intimidation, closed-mindedness, manipulation, secretiveness, blame, individual attacks, power through fear, stifling creative problem solving or improvements, negativity, favoritism, or political land mines. The existence of any of these workplace toxins means that you have a leadership problem and you must work on yourself before you can build trust in others.

While man’s best friend, will overlook your shortcomings and the times you weren’t at your best, your team needs more than a quick pat on the head and tossing the ball to gain their trust.

What did your best leader do to build your trust? What did your worst leader do to destroy it?


Related Articles: 4 Secrets to An Empowered and Engaged Team

Cross-posted in LinkedIn


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Does Character Really Matter? (updated)

12/30/2009   (UPDATED)

As we look to the new year, we are facing the fruit of our national apathy as we watch Congress wheel and deal for their votes in support of a bill that America clearly does not want.  For decades, the national silence has been deafening while elected officials of BOTH parties showed their true character.  Bringing home the bacon to their district through ear-marks as the price for their support of a bill they would not otherwise agree to has become the normal M.O. in Washington.

In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide.  Regard not the particular sect [party] of the candidate – look to his character… It is alleged by men of loose principles or defective views of the subject that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations.  But the Scriptures teach a different doctrine.  They direct that rulers should be men “who rule in the fear of God, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.”

~Noah Webster

As the President and Congress are sworn into office, they take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies both foreign and domestic.  Why would our Founding Fathers choose to use that particular turn of phrase?  Why would a citizen be a threat to the Constitution?  Having just rid themselves of tyranny, they valued their hard won freedom and rightly knew that in the passage of time, our national memory would fade and a domestic tyrant could again threaten the liberty of the citizens of this country.

But you must remember, my fellow citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing.

~President Andrew Jackson, Farewell address 1837

While we are busy with the details of our own lives, we often neglect our duty to ourselves, our country and future generations by guarding jealously the inheritance our fore fathers left us.  We don’t want to get off the couch and get out of our comfort zones to send good people off to attend to the people’s business.  Andrew Jackson had much more to say:

You have no longer any cause to fear danger from abroad; your strength and power are well known throughout the civilized world, as well as the high and gallant bearing of your sons.  It is from within, among yourselves–from cupidity [excessive desire, especially for wealth; covetousness or avarice], from corruption, from disappointed ambition and inordinate thirst for power– that factions will be formed and liberty endangered.  It is against such designs, whatever disguise the actors may assume, that you have especially to guard yourselves.  You have the highest of  human trusts committed to your care.  Providence has showered on this favored land blessings without number, and has chosen  you as the guardians of freedom, to preserve it for the benefit of the human race.  May He who holds in His hands the destinies of nations make you worthy of the favors He has bestowed and and enable you, with pure hearts and pure hands and sleepless vigilance, to guard and defend to the end of time the great charge He has committed to your keeping.

~Andrew Jackson, Farewell Address 1837

As We The People have slept, a diligent minority have worked to “fundamentally transform” our nation.  The American Dream has morphed into a garish caricature reflecting our enslavement through apathy.  We The People sat silent and let our national leadership completely ignore the Constitution.  Its hard to say who is more wrong.  Those who swore to protect and defend the Constitution, or those who did nothing to hold them accountable.

We The People sat quietly, not wanting anyone to be offended, as a few have decided that we can no longer have God in our public life.  George Washington, in his farewell address in 1796 talked about religion and morality’s role in preserving freedom:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness — these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.  The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.  A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.  Let it simply be asked, “Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?” And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.

Sitting in the Oval Office we now have a President that sees the Constitution as a speed bump, “a charter of negative  liberties”, on the road to the new America he has envisioned.  This same man has claimed that we are no longer a Christian nation.

We The People are doomed if we won’t stand up for what is right and good.  Personal responsibility and honest self interest have served this nation well as we have grown and prospered.  While some grow extremely wealthy, many are lifted up because of their pursuit of the American Dream.  Jobs are created, the free market drives innovation and generous people give to support those who are less fortunate.  People of character work hard.  People of character don’t want hand outs, they want opportunities.  People of character will lend a hand.  People of character know right from wrong even if no one is looking.

America needs people of character to step in to the fray and run for office at every level of government.  School boards, city councils, state legislatures, judges and federal offices are all important positions.  Honest people that aren’t looking for what’s in it for them can help turn this country around.  If We The People stand up and support the good guys with our time and money we can vote the in-bred Washington elites out.

UPDATE (09/13/2010):

It’s nine months later and We The People have seen that the slogan HOPE and CHANGE didn’t exactly mean what they said it did. We The People have watched unpopular, oppressive legislation speed through Congress as though they would never have to face another election again with arrogance and impunity. America’s economy is in the worst shape imaginable since the trillion dollar stimulus was going to prevent exactly what we’re experiencing. This administration’s response to criticism is merely that it would have been much worse if they hadn’t done it. Hard to prove, huh?

Now We The People face the mid-term elections. If we don’t clean house in Washington, we’re jumping off the cliff into an America we don’t recognize.  If we don’t fundamentally transform Washington by electing honorable candidates, kiss America as we know it and the Constitution good bye. How should Lady Liberty’s eulogy read?

God Bless America!

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