Integrity in the workplace is foundational for building a trusting and productive team that can function during good times and bad times. It is an essential trait for leaders to possess as it involves honesty, respect, and vulnerability. These three traits are key ingredients in maximizing engagement and productivity. When leaders choose to lead with integrity, they intentionally set themselves up for success by allowing themselves to be open to change and feedback. As a result, they expose their actual state of thinking and facilitate others to do the same. When leaders can actively engage their team, they instill purpose in their mission and outcomes.
Integrity involves a conscious choice to lead by example and set the standard for how all team members should operate. It is about being authentic and transparent while valuing the perspectives and opinions of team members. It requires a willingness to have difficult conversations early and openly and to recognize mistakes and learn from them. It also involves showing vulnerability and admitting when you don’t know the answer.
Here are some essential steps to help leaders build trust and lead with integrity in the workplace:
1. Have Hard Conversations Early
One of the most crucial aspects of leading with integrity is having difficult conversations in a timely manner. Delaying these conversations can lead to a lack of trust and respect among team members. Good leaders understand this concept and choose to own it every step of the way. They frame discussions by asking questions, taking inventory of the importance of the conversation, and trying to approach the topic from a neutral perspective. As they work through the discussion, they utilize emotional intelligence to understand both viewpoints and create solutions to move forward. Keeping it simple is the recipe for success, especially when it’s a conversation that you don’t want to have but need to.
2. Clear is Kind When It Comes to Communication
Clear communication is key to building trust and integrity among team members. Kim Scott’s book, Radical Candor, describes the use of “clear is kind” in communication with peers and colleagues. Muddled communication and a lack of clarity cause more problems than they solve. Scott encourages leaders to have the courage to care personally and challenge directly. When providing feedback, leaders should choose clarity over coddling and be clear about their expectations.
3. Be Transparent
Transparency is vital in building trust with peers and colleagues. Leaders must be aware of their actions and be transparent with their motives. If you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest. This transparency can be crucial for success and team building because it shows that you’re human, open to feedback, and willing to be vulnerable to improve. Your team will be able to relate to these aspects and be more open to doing the same.
4. Recognize Mistakes, Then Move On
Mistakes are inevitable in any workplace, but how leaders choose to handle them can make all the difference. Recognizing mistakes and taking the opportunity to learn from them is vital to growing and progressing as a team. If leaders own up to their mistakes and open themselves up to learning from them, it sets an example for others to do the same.
5. Show Vulnerability
Leaders that show vulnerability create a safe space for their team to be vulnerable too. Authenticity is key in building trust and relationships with team members. When leaders show their human side and are open to feedback, it creates a ripple effect of increased engagement and productivity.
6. Say “I Don’t Know” When You Don’t
Leaders don’t need to know everything, and admitting that they don’t know something can be very powerful. Saying “I don’t know” shows humility and a willingness to learn. Leaders willing to say that they don’t know something have a better chance of learning from their colleagues who might be more knowledgeable in that area.
7. Ask For Feedback; Then Give It
Feedback is vital to personal growth and continuous improvement. Leaders who value feedback from their coworkers create an environment that fosters open and honest communication. By asking first for feedback, leaders allow their colleagues to be open to giving feedback, creating a give-and-take relationship. Leaders who can receive feedback but also give it are the ones who accomplish incredible feats. They’re able to work together with others to achieve goals that are greater than themselves.
8. Listen to Understand, Not to Respond
Active listening is essential in building trust and leading with integrity. When we listen to understand, it shows that we value the opinions and perspectives of our team members. Leaders should actively listen to their team members to understand their challenges and ideas fully. Processing what is being said before responding shows that you truly consider the thoughts and opinions of others.
In conclusion, integrity in the workplace is essential for building trust and leading with authenticity. Leaders who lead with integrity embody honesty, respect, and vulnerability, and these traits are the key ingredients in maximizing engagement and productivity. By following these tips, leaders can set themselves, and their team members up for success by creating an open and trustworthy environment where everyone can thrive.