Skip wrote about the importance of doing what we say we will. Here’s a snippet:
"As a leader, it’s becomes easy to make promises to people through statements that you say — things you will improve, tasks you will take on, opportunities that are promised. However, the true test of a leader is your follow-through — can you deliver on those promises in the actions you take."
To me, this is so fundamental and it drives me crazy when people lack integrity.
That’s right, I wrote INTEGRITY.
What is integrity?
Integrity is simple – it means doing what you said you would. A lot of people put higher moral meanings to the word, but let’s demystify it.
If you do not keep your promises – you are not acting with integrity.
If you keep your promises – you act with integrity.
You said you would get the report done on Friday. It’s not done on Friday. You are out of integrity.
You said you would finish the project by May 31. It’s done before May 31st. You are in integrity.
People do not possess integrity as a lifelong trait like introversion or twisted sense of humor (enough about me). Integrity is a state that we are either in or out of in a particular time. We are each in integrity or out of integrity RIGHT NOW.
Good news: You can get back into integrity anytime. Deliver on your promises and/or renegotiate them. I think little things matter, too. It is important to keep both large and small promises.
And watch out for implied promises! This is what happens in meetings when we are not clear about what we will and won’t get done (by who, by when). Half the room will have heard you promise to get the data to the group by the end of the day when you may have a very different perspective.
When I was managing a staff, I would routinely ask whether people were waiting on me for anything to make sure there were no implied promises not on my list. You can’t renegotiate implied promises until they get out in the open.
Why should you stay in integrity? Mental mucky muck that runs amuck and mucks up your productivity! When you are out of integrity, all those unfinished items get in the way of your best thinking and activity. Even if you are not thinking about the late report – it is there, diminishing your returns.
Of course, there are other reasons, too. You will have better relationships at work. You will be regarded well and promoted more. You will get more done.
Make a list of all the things you said you would do and when you said you would do them. Are you in or
out of integrity? What can you do to get back in integrity?
- List 1: Things I will complete
- List 2: Things I need to renegotiate
- List 3: Things I should back away from
Fill all three lists and then act accordingly. It feels great to be in integrity.