► 3. Keep your promises.
Avoid mush language. Don’t ever say things like “I’ll think about” or “I’ll get back to you” when you have no intention of ever doing so. Those are implied promises that people expect you to keep.
And a broken promise cuts deeply into your integrity. In fact, the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina, found that the number one block to a successful executive career was not following through on commitments.
By contrast, those who made it all the way to the top in their careers were those who kept their promises. They said, in effect, “I’m going to do what I say I’m going to do when I say I’m going to do it.”
► 4. Admit your mistakes.
Everyone make mistakes. But what really hurts your leadership and what really makes mistakes expensive is not admitting them right away.
Unfortunately, most business cultures discourage people from admitting their mistakes. They’re indirectly taught to bury their mistakes or blame someone else.
Not Katie Paine, founder and CEO of the Delahaye Group. She instituted the “Mistake of the Month Club.” She says, “Several years ago, I overslept and missed a flight to a big client meeting. I walked into my next staff meeting, plunked $50 down on the table, and said, ‘If you can top this mistake, that money is yours’.”
Katie continued, “People started to own up to mistakes and suddenly we had a flood of them. At every staff meeting since, we’ve set aside 30 minutes to write up the mistakes of the month on a whiteboard. Then we cast a vote. Since then we’ve recorded more than 2000 mistakes. Once a mistake hits the whiteboard, it tends not to happen again. It has become a bonding ritual. Once you go through it, you’re a member of the club.”
Admitting your mistakes takes guts. But it shows character and builds trust. It is a vital piece of the honesty that makes you a leader of integrity.
In conclusion, you’ve got to avoid the temptation of merely saying what people want to hear. If you’re going to be a real leader (instead of a politician or a charlatan), you can’t play games with honesty. You’ve got to demonstrate your absolute commitment to honesty. You’ve got to tell the truth and you’ve got to admit your mistakes.
Final Thought: Employees will forgive and forget a leader’s errors in judgment, but they will never forget his/her lack of integrity. (The same goes for your family members.)