In life as in business, sincerity and honesty can exist, and it all begins with the person staring back at you from the mirror. There are many reasons that people choose to travel in other paths that lack integrity, but there’s no reason for it. Having a great company, making money and treating others well don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Life hardens us all.
Challenging circumstances can create doubt.
And, especially in business, we all want results. I get it because I’ve had doubts and I’m someone who expects achievements at work and nothing less than the best in performance.
But, sometimes it feels as if anything goes.
The question here is, how do you maintain your integrity in life, and by extension, in business?
Want to know my honest answer?
It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. I do it every day–no matter what happens–and so can you.
I’m one of those people who thinks he’s heard it all and when people have been “caught” not having a high level of integrity, I’ve heard the excuses. I’ve listened to stories of “a tough life,” and I’ve had someone tell me once that integrity is not a value he has because “every day is a great day to make money.” In his mind, capitalism is a higher value, and capitalists can’t have integrity in business. I’ve also seen a lack of motivation or desire to take the higher ground, always. If you had to review your life, where would you place yourself on the scale?
I may be old school, but I believe that in business and in life, your word is your bond. Period. If you do business with me or if you’re a member of my team, then when I say I’m going to do something, you can take it to the bank and consider it done.
It would be refreshing if everyone tried to operate in a similar fashion, but I also understand that life is made of all kinds of people.
So, my question to you is, how do you want to live your life and operate in business?
Presuming that you want to follow the path of integrity, what are the immediate steps you can take right now to ensure that everyone who comes in contact with you understands that what you say, you will do? As you know, your reputation takes a lifetime to build, and in today’s world, only minutes to ruin. One bad review or scandal, especially in the digital world where news can spread like wildfire, is all you need to see everything you’ve built in your life come tumbling down like a pile of toy blocks.
- Sincerity always has a place at the table: I’ve often heard, especially in business, and maybe you have too, that honesty places you on the wrong end of a negotiation. Many professionals believe that sincerity is not recommended. I disagree. The people you work with will appreciate knowing your authenticity and honesty. I think you have everything to gain if you’re sincere. I’m not saying that in a tough negotiation you have to put all your cards on the table. That doesn’t make any business sense, but you have to be sincere in what you do reveal.
- Surround yourself with others who have integrity: Have you ever recommended someone for a job or professional opportunity only to find out that they’ve blown the chance and made you look bad with your colleague or friend in the process? As a business leader, I hold myself to a high-level of integrity, and as I have said, when I say something, my word is golden. But, I also expect the same from those who work with me or with whom we partner. Make it a point to maintain high-quality people around you who also believe that integrity is a prominent value. And, the next time you have to give a recommendation, you don’t ever have to worry about getting an email or phone call that reflects on your judgment.
- Learn the art of saying “no”: One of the reasons that many people often get themselves into all kinds of trouble is because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or give someone “bad news.” They also think that they could jeopardize a relationship if they say no. This is a mistake. If an idea, partnership or opportunity does not fit with your agenda, then you have no choice but to decline. By taking the band-aid off early and saying no, you will prevent something that will only grow bigger and lead to awkwardness, disappointment or even anger later on because you didn’t deliver on what you said you would. Know when to walk away from something and always make it as early as possible.
No matter your position in a company as a member of the team or a leader, realize that you always want to be as transparent as possible, especially in today’s world where it’s demanded by customers, the public, and employees. Sincerity is a great competitive advantage because when someone knows you’re true to your word, guess who they’ll want to do business with now and in the future. Yes, you.