Being a business owner in today's fast-paced digital world means that you are always in the public eye. While you might not have stockholders like Elon Musk or Amazon, your employees, vendors, and customers are paying close attention to what you do, and don't do, when it comes to your habits and choices.
When it comes to leading with integrity, consider the following questions.
1. Do you practice what you preach?
When you schedule a meeting for 11 a.m., are you on time? You should be. Leaders who lead with integrity take their commitments seriously and understand that setting a good example is important for overall team unity. They know that their time is no more valuable than that of their vendors or staff members, and make it a point to take appointments and deadlines seriously.
Of course, no one will question you if you do show up late, but leading with integrity means that you hold yourself to a high standard absent of outside influences.
Your behaviors are small examples to your team, and no example is more obvious about your integrity muscles than being on time, all the time. Your team is watching closely, so step up your game here.
2. Are you clear on your actions and deliverables?
As a leader, you are going to be delegating tasks to staff members frequently, and it is important that you set the standard for how meetings and handoffs should occur.
Many times the receiving party doesn't know just what they've been asked to do, or in fact they may not know that they've been asked to do anything at all. Hence the need to clarify all action items and deliverables in writing. Not only does this ensure that you've captured all your action items, but it is also a powerful way to role model how you want your team to behave.
For instance, your next meeting might sound like:
"OK, summing up, here's what I've committed to: I've got three action items here. Item one is to review the Johnson proposal and make a yes or no decision by this Friday end of business. Item two is to give feedback via email to Carl about the new orientation process. And item three is to send out the date of our next quarterly planning session to the exec team by noon tomorrow." [I encourage you to visibly write down each action item in your notes as your meeting progresses.] "Now, Cheryl, I have down that you've committed to two items ... "
Plus, when you're clear on what you are handing a team member, you are also raising the accountability bar inside your company.
3. Are you closing the loop?
Another mark of a good leader is the ability to close the accountability loop. You have staff members, vendors, and customers relying on you to perform certain tasks, so it is up to you to deliver as promised. When you complete a task, make sure that everyone knows that the task is complete and ready to go. This could be something as simple as:
"Gina, as promised, here is the proposal due tomorrow ... "
4. Areyou practicing good stress-management behavior?
Running a business is stressful. And recently we have seen several high-profile CEOs crack under the pressure. How you act when the stakes are high says a lot about you as a leader and as a business.
How you react to stress leaves a magnified impression on your team, customers, vendors, and investors. Being on your best behavior is crucial to teaching the rest of your team about integrity and acceptable stress management.
The combination of these four key behaviors will help you lead with integrity inside your company.