Integrity: One communication at a time

In many firms, large and small, the beginning of a new year is a time for corporate action: right-sizing, down-sizing, reorganizing, realigning and staff layoffs. As anyone who has lived through one of these can tell you – myself included – it can be one of the biggest tests of integrity a leader faces.

Why? Because if leaders fall short on honesty when communicating these changes they risk damaging their integrity with peers, direct reports and clients.

Communicating with integrity is critical to building and maintaining trust in these situations. When Katharine Weymouth, publisher of the troubled Washington Post, recently announced staff changes, she abruptly shut down all questions with a curt “Go back to your desks.” It was a misstep that was widely reported, and it further eroded Ms. Weymouth’s credibility as a leader.

How do you hold on to your leadership integrity when dealing with staff changes? Amy Rees Anderson points out in Forbes that “Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching.”

Integrity is arguably the most valuable asset we have; protecting that asset is a challenge in the trenches of today’s competitive business environment.

My business partner has a flexible fill-in-the-blank priming statement that he uses to help leaders live their values:

“You are only as ________ as you are in this moment.

For example, “You are only as honest as you are in this moment.” It can be used to prime your thoughts and actions during the delivery of any tough messages.

I have my own fill-in-the-blank review question:

“Where was the ________ in that?”

To use this tool, I recommend going back over what happened and asking, “Where was the integrity in that?”

These are two very simple but highly effective tools – one priming statement & one review question. Use them to ensure that your actions align with your integrity no matter what messages you have to deliver.

Priming Statement: I only have as much integrity as I show in this moment!

Review Question: Where was the integrity in that?

Let us know if these tools work for you, and drop us a line to share your own techniques for remembering to keep your integrity in the moment.

Happy New Year!


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