Integrity: Doing What Is Right

IntegrityOver the Memorial Holiday my family traveled to Florida.  During our trip we stopped at a Chick-Fil-A in Tifton, Georgia for dinner.  This Chick-Fil-A, like most, was very busy.  As I waited in line I observed a teenage young lady making her rounds to customers at each table.  She would engage in small talk as she cleared used napkins and empty food containers.  It was obvious from her interactions with the families this was not her first visit to their table.  I continued to watch this young lady as she went about her work with a smile enjoying her time with each customer.  As one of the families was preparing to leave a father said thank you for her great service and placed some folded bills in her hand.  She looked down and immediately handed the money back.  “Sir thank you but I cannot accept this.  It was my pleasure to serve you today.” she said with a big smile.    The father stated, “No, I want you to have this. You did not have to treat us the way you did.”  The young lady repeated herself, “No Sir, it was my pleasure to serve you and I cannot accept this.”  I am sure that Chick-fil-a has a policy against accepting tips from customers.  Since there was not another employee around she could have easily taken the cash and said thank you.  However, her integrity would not allow her to do so.

As a leader there is not always a clear-cut answer to every question.  There will be decision points that will cause you great stress.  Every decision you make will testify to your level of integrity.  In the story above the young lady made an immediate correct decision.  There may be times that your immediate decision is wrong.  If you make a wrong decision, go back and correct it.  It can be very difficult, even embarrassing, to admit you made a bad decision, but those around you will gain the utmost respect when you admit you were wrong and make it right. 

Integrity is about doing what is right.  When you find yourself thinking through an important decision, contemplate how you want others to see your integrity.  As a leader what example do you want to set?  Ask yourself if you would be proud if your action was videotaped and played during a company meeting.  Consistently having integrity is no easy feat but it is a rewarding one!

Six Things The Best Leaders Do…

How do the best leaders get optimal results out of their team? Below are six things great leaders do to engage their teams toward success.

Inspire:     The best leaders inspire us to stretch to reach our full potential. Most people have an innate desire to be better. The best leaders tap into that desire by inspiring us not to settle for average but to push toward greatness. In order to inspire others you must take the time to understand what motivates them. It may be a promotion, public recognition, financial incentives, or learning a new skill. Once you discover their motivation, use it to inspire great performance.

Coach:     The best leaders coach us to be better. When someone makes a mistake or fails to reach a goal the best leaders see an opportunity to coach. Keep in mind coaching requires that each team member has the desire to succeed and the skills/experience necessary to do the job. As the leader your goal is to get the best performance from each team member. When you formally address a performance issue it is still a coaching session. Have the mind frame of not punishing but using the discussion to help the team member improve.

Clearly communicate the vision to your team.

Clearly communicate the vision to your team.

Communicate:     The best leaders communicate the vision and goals to their team members. These leaders ensure everyone understands how important their role is to the success of the team. The best leaders set clear expectations and provide continuous feedback. Make time to discuss with your team the vision you have and the important role they play. Provide them with the information they need to successfully reach your expectations.

Listen:     Listening may seem that it should go along with communication. In reality it should. However, some leader’s idea of communication is telling others what to do. The best leaders excel doing more listening than talking. It is vital for leaders to listen to their teams for two reasons. First, team members who are carrying out an important task will have input on how to make procedures more efficient. Second, listening to your team will help you discover communication breakdown. Take time to ask team members questions about their work experiences. Ask the questions and then listen. You will reap vital information that will help you improve.

Trust:     The best leaders hire the right team and trust them to do the job. They communicate the goals, set the rules and guidelines, and monitor progress. They allow their teams to perform. You cannot micro-manage your team and then complain no one takes initiative. Build a strong team by creating a frame work of trust that allows your team to take initiative and have ownership of their work.

Recognize and reward great performance.

Recognize and reward great performance.

Recognize:     The best leaders understand that if they desire great performance repeated then they must recognize and reward it. On the contrary challenged leaders see their job as seeking out poor performance and punishing it. The problem with that view is you never get around to communicating what constitutes great performance. The only feedback your team receives is what not to do. This does not mean ignore a performance issue. (Refer to coaching section above.) One of your primary functions as a leader is to recognize great performance. Recognizing others in front of peers rewards them and communicates to others the standard of excellent performance. Look for opportunities to recognize and reward great performance.

Take time to think about how you are doing in each of these areas.  Incorporate each one into your leadership style.

Employees Are Customers Too…How Is Your Customer Support

Often when you talk about customer service, you are referring to external customers that purchase your products or services. But you have another customer…your employees. What are they purchasing? You are selling a pay check in exchange for their time, skills, and experience. The problem: There are an infinite number of organizations that offer a paycheck. In order to retain and attract the best talent you will have to separate yourself and your organization from the competition. Below are some benefits that will enhance your customer support and keep your best customers spending their time, skills, and experience with you.

Company/Team Culture: Build a strong culture that is centered on having fun while working hard to fulfill the mission statement. Ensure that each team member understands their vital role in the success of the organization. Foster an environment of sharing ideas, coaching versus punishing performance issues, and celebrating individual and team success. Create opportunities for team members to socialize and team build. Developing team relationships will pay dividends during stressful work projects and create loyalty to each other and the team.

Career Development: A paycheck and health insurance is not enough to retain and attract the best talent. The top talent is searching for an organization that will invest in developing their skills while providing opportunities to enhance their career. It is very important to recognize the career ambitions of each team member. Support those ambitions through coaching, mentoring, and training opportunities. When employees see the team leader is vested in helping them succeed professionally it builds loyalty.

Personal Development: Team leaders should be working to understand the personal goals of each team member. Identify ways you personally or the organization can support their efforts. This support can be as small as allowing them time away from work to volunteer for their favorite charity. You may discover a way to have the entire team join. This will create a team building opportunity while supporting an employee’s personal goal.

Building a great company culture that allows team members to have fun, develop their careers, and reach their personal goals will provide the customer support you need to retain and attract the best talent.