Choosing to lead with integrity affects our reputation. It’s our reputation that can mean we get hired quickly and easily, or we secure investment in ourselves or in our organisation. It’s our reputation that attracts great talent towards us, that makes people want to be on our team, or that makes entities want to collaborate or partner with us.
So, what does leading with integrity look like?
How leading with integrity affects your reputation
There’s a lot in here but let me offer 2 things to think about: leading with integrity is about honouring our own values consistently and at the same time noticing and responding to other people’s values. And it’s not about us wavering and giving up our values for someone else’s — it’s about being able to reach across the gap.
Values are the principles, beliefs and attitudes that guide our decisions and our behaviours. We all have a unique collection of values — which values you hold are personal to you. For example, you might hold Achievement, Balance, and Community to be really important to you, and someone you work with holds Determination, Greatness and Respect as values that drive their behaviours.
Honouring our own values consistently means honouring them even when we’re stressed or the decision isn’t to our own advantage. We stay true to our values — perhaps it isn’t even a matter of choice. This consistency in how we respond to situations is what people experience of us when we’re in conversation, negotiating, providing feedback, advocating for others, or dealing with a crisis.
And noticing other people’s values is about having the flexibility or agility to respond in ways that say, “I get what you’re about”, “I get what’s important to you”.
For example, someone you are leading may have a very different set of values to you. That’s very challenging for many of us because we use different language, sometimes more feeling language and sometimes more process language. These alone create barriers — we can’t get passed the language sometimes. It also has a lot to do with things like first impressions, how we’re wired and how we’re interpreting other people’s behaviours.
To be a value-driven leader, you need to tune into your own values in any given moment and appreciate what value someone is speaking from. Remember, we don’t have to adopt someone else’s value — we just have to reach across the divide, make an emotional connection or even a logic or reason-based connection. We all connect with the world in different ways.
Being able to express your values and someone else’s values in a conversation in tangible ways that relate to the work that needs doing or a project plan can sound something like this,
“I know the quality of the coding is important to you, so help me understand what we cannot compromise on and what aspects we can negotiate on.”
In this example, quality is a key value for them and collaboration is a key value for you.
It’s this ability to speak “two languages” that sets exceptional leaders apart from regular leaders or managers. It’s this experience of us, our ability to honour our values and to communicate it clearly, that people take away and remember.
So, leading with integrity is about honouring our values consistent AND “getting people”, understanding other people’s values. And then responding in ways that are intentional, sensitive and sometimes strategic.
This builds a good reputation. We’d all go the extra mile for someone who leads with integrity like this.
Want to discover your personal values?
I get leaders on my course, Leaders Who Coach™️, to do this same exercise at the start of their journey because it’s important that they know what they stand for and what consistency looks and feels like.