Essential Leadership Skills – Do the Right Thing – Integrity and Accountability
What’s the one essential leadership skill you can’t do without? What one thing will carry you through any crisis? What one value is paramount to your success as a leader?
According to The Millionaire Mind , most first generation, self-made millionaires say they could not have gotten to where they are without uncompromising integrity. Integrity is one of the essential skills of a leader and a foundation for success. The honesty and fair dealing you bring to your position speaks volumes about you as a person. Doing the right thing, whether or not anyone’s watching can be difficult but it’s necessary for you to succeed.
We live in a society where cutting corners, putting a spin on every story, and bending the rules are commonplace. The organizations that really stand out are those that strive to do the right thing in every situation. This mindset is evident in their mission statements, ever-present in their core values, and you can see it as you deal with their employees. Behind every outstanding customer service provider is a leader who values integrity.
I trust that the type of organization you want to be affiliated with is one that holds integrity in the highest regard. How do you become a leader in one of these organizations? Look deep inside and make sure you believe that your word is your bond, honesty is the best policy, and keeping quiet when you disagree is a true disservice to all. If these values align with yours, practice them daily whether or not anyone notices and associate yourself with people who do the same.
Hand in hand with integrity is accountability. It’s another one of those skills of a leader that will win people over and take you far. As a leader, you’re responsible for your team‘s work product. When things go wrong, you need to step out in front and take the heat. Part of taking that heat is to send the message that excuses are not allowed and the blame game has no winners. Someone who is accountable apologizes for the error, fixes the problem and promises it won’t happen again.
“People fire companies daily”, according to John Miller, author of Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional. One of the reasons this happens is because someone on the front line, dealing with the customer, doesn’t accept responsibility for the customer’s situation. The customer is often made to feel like they are the ones who are in the wrong for pointing out the error. The customer is unable to get the redress they seek and it’s taken them valuable time just to get an answer of “no.”
As a leader, you are responsible for how the folks on the front lines treat the customer. If you train your people to be accountable and give them the tools and resources to fix problems, they will do just that every time. If you hold them accountable when they fail to do the right thing, they will either discover that they aren’t a good fit for the organization and leave or they will rise to the occasion, having learned a valuable lesson.
What are the skills of a leader that will make you or break you at every turn? Integrity and accountability, without a doubt. Your integrity is everything. It’s the most important leadership skill you can have. It’s actually not a skill at all, it’s a value and if you don’t have it deep within you, at the core of your being, you won’t succeed as a leader. Your integrity will lead you to be accountable for your performance and your team‘s performance. The buck stops with you. When mistakes are made or the results fall below expectations, you must be the one to step up and take responsibility for it. Your people will see this and they will respond.