Leadership is often defined as getting other people to do what you want. Using this definition it is no wonder that many people revert to using underhanded tactics to try to “trick” their followers into doing what they want. This is a shortcut to leadership and doesn’t result in long term value.
It is this type of “leadership by trickery” that makes people automatically suspicious of their leaders. If you want to develop a long term foundation for leadership, these types of short cut tricks will only prevent you from achieving your goals. Once some of your followers realize that they have been tricked you will lose any credibility you started with.
If you want a solid leadership foundation you must take the long view and consider how every action will impact your ability to lead further down the road. To build trust with your followers you must act with integrity.
Leading with integrity means doing what you say you will do. Many leaders get themselves into trouble by making commitments off the cuff and then not following through on those commitments. If you are careful what you say, you will increase your integrity with your followers simply because you won’t have to back out of commitments you made with out thinking. When you do make commitments make sure they are tied to realistic timeframes. If you tell someone you are going to give them a raise next year, you are making a commitment with many factors you can’t control. Sometimes saying that you will give them a raise when sales reach $1,000,000 will be a better commitment because it is tied to a goal that will enable you to give the raise.
Sometimes leading with integrity means going through with something to keep your word even when you would rather not. Not keeping your word will often hurt you much more than any inconvenience that is caused by keeping your word. If you ever have to go back on a promise, don’t hide it under the rug. Take the time to apologize to the people you made the promise to. Apologize and try to come up with some way to work things out even if you can’t make the original commitment.
Another important part of leading with integrity is delegating responsibility. Many leaders fail by delegating responsibility and then taking back over when their delegate does something they don’t want. When you delegate you need to be willing to part with the responsibility. If your delegate does something differently than you, you need to support their decision. That doesn’t mean you can’t steer them in a different direction, but always support their decision whenever possible. If you delegate responsibility and then pull it back, you will demotivate your followers and make it difficult to delegate other items in the future.
Leading with integrity is avoiding the shortcuts that many leaders take. By avoiding shortcuts you can build a strong foundation that will amplify your leadership skills as you develop trust with your team.
By: Mark Shead