One obvious requirement of business leadership involves the universally respected value of trust. This leads us to the topic of authenticity.
Are business leaders today seen as highly rated by their authenticity or are they seen as disingenuous, shallow, self-promoting or even dishonest? Are business leaders trusted?
This is a hard problem to quantify. Entire industries, as we know, are sometimes marred by isolated scandals that lower the public’s view of them. When an oil tanker leaks, the reputation of an entire industry sinks. When the Great Recession hit in 2008, bankers were considered the scourge of their times.
When authenticity erodes, profits tumble and the public wants someone punished. In a publicly traded company, this often goes straight to the top office.
Your business is a microcosm of this dynamic. If a business leader is disingenuous or dishonest, middle management becomes restless and employees sense trouble. Discipline breaks down as employees begin to take shortcuts and feel more anxious about their job security. Morale falls and turnover rises. Blaming becomes commonplace.
In the words of Ricky Nelson, “…ya can’t please everyone, so ya got please yourself.” Trying to please everyone is an energy drain. Who respects a leader who tries to make everyone happy all the time at the expense of her values? This is not sustainable. It’s a recipe for burnout.
Authenticity promotes stability, strong company values and teamwork. It also promotes clarity and loyalty, both of which contribute to productivity.
What can you do to establish greater authenticity among a diverse group of managers, division leaders and employees?
Here are what your employees want you to do:
- Lead by example. Your behavior speaks volumes.
- Treat others with respect at all times, and especially when you have to give constructive feedback.
- Establish a company mission statement based on company values. Promote it extensively. Let this guide your decisions; it ensures consistency and provides clarity.
- Be the expert in your field to earn respect. Remember, however, you don’t know everything.
- Admit mistakes; learn how to apologize clearly, simply, without excuses.
- Practice open management. Divulging reasons for a decision helps people understand something they may not like although it is necessary.
- Be clear about what’s OK and what’s not OK. People respect boundaries.
It’s worth building your business on a foundation of authenticity. Your employees respect you. It’s easier to follow someone you respect. Aligning your values with your behavior serves not only the business but you. Self-respect is priceless.
© 2018 Ann Elliott All Rights Reserved