Mistakes New Leaders Make: Undervaluing Your Integrity

April 13th, 2014

Justin Clark, MBA

This twelve week series is a collection of my personal experiences as a new leader over the past three years. These are not only mistakes that I have made, but that I continue to make at times. I hope that by sharing my experiences, readers will be able to navigate their role as a leader more skillfully. 

What are the barriers to doing this?

What is integrity? I have heard integrity defined as what you do when you don’t think anyone else is watching. With that in mind, all leaders are faced with the opportunity to make decisions that fall withing a spectrum I like to refer to as “the gray area” of decision making. These decisions may seem like small or inconsequential ones, but we must determine what is motivating us to make such choices. Are we hoping to impress someone or help move ourselves forward in the organization? Are we looking to avoid a more difficult and time consuming course of action? For me personally, the biggest challenge is valuing things above integrity. It isn’t that I intend to do damage to my integrity in how I make decisions, but it’s when my priorities aren’t properly ordered that I have to work to maintain integrity in my decision making.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

In order to foster gratifying and successful professional relationships, we must trust one another to do the right thing. This is a simple, yet profound case for valuing your integrity as a leader. If you can’t be trusted by your colleagues to do the right thing, then you will do irreparable damage to your career and/or your company. After all, none of us can sustain successful levels of performance without the help and support of our professional colleagues.

How can you do it?

1.  Value the right thing above all else.

2.  Be mindful of your selfish motives in making decisions. Question your motives often.

3.  Don’t take action if you have doubts about the integrity of your decision.

4.  Find colleagues that you can engage in honest and thoughtful discussions about decision making. Empower them to challenge you and hold you accountable.

How does valuing the right thing ultimately produce better results?

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