There’s been a lot of talk in the media and amongst the politicians that integrity and character are old-fashioned, outdated concepts. How a person behaves and what a person says are “private” matters that should be of no concern to anyone else.
In other words, they’re saying honesty is not the best policy.
I beg to differ. I say…
1. Honesty is the only policy.
Just look at the research. When it comes to customer loyalty, for example, nothing is more important than the trust you develop with your customers. Research from Texas A & M University says
“If the customer can trust you, if the customer sees you as being honest and reliable, if the customer sees you doing what you said you would do, he will become an enthusiastic customer.”
The same is true with your co-workers or internal customers. If your co-workers see you as being honest, even when it’s not easy or comfortable to do so, you’ll build an incredible bond of trust with them. And with that bond of trust you’ll get their engagement and performance.
That’s why I say, “Integrity matters. Character counts. Trust is your ultimate competitive advantage.” And that’s why I wrote an entire chapter on this point alone in my new book, The Payoff Principle: Discover the 3 Secrets for Getting What You Want Out of Life and Work.
To get your copy of The Payoff Principle, go to thepayoffprinciple.com
So yes, honesty is critically important in business if you want to build the relationships you’ll need to succeed in business. But you also need to remember that…
2. Honesty should lead the way during times of change.
A few years ago, people would point to their past successes and say, “We’ve always done it this way.” It might have sounded a little rigid, a bit stubborn, and a mite prideful, but it was their way of saying: “There’s no need to change. Our success proves we’re on the right path doing the right things.”
In the 21st century, we know that those comments are dangerously naive. Everything seems to be changing these days and changing at a faster pace than ever before. That means what worked in the past may not work in the future.
So what should you do if you’re a company, a manager, or an employee? Open your eyes. See the truth. Be honest. Let people know that your past success is nothing more than proof that you were right once. It’s not a guarantee that you will be successful in the future.
All you have to do is look at the changing company names on the Fortune 500 list to know that is true. In fact, 89% of the firms on the 1955 list were gone in 2014.
To put honesty into practice, I teach people a simple concept in my program, 4C Leadership: Communication, Cooperation, Commitment, and Change. I teach people to get rid of that old slogan that says “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Adopt a new approach that says “If it works, improve it!“