Thursday, May 23, 2013

LEAD BY EXAMPLE Part 7: Practice Integrity

In Part 6 of this "Lead by Example" series, I challenged you to be aware of your own assumptions. I end this series with perhaps the most important element to achieving effective leadership: practice integrity.

When you’ve done everything else (been honest, supportive, reliable, sought to understand the big picture, asked good questions, and carefully considered your own assumptions) and you still can’t influence the situation, you will have to decide to either stay the course or move on. 

In a recent engagement, a manager who reported to a vice president seen by everyone in the organization to be dysfunctional consulted me about what he should do. The VP’s behavior was the subject of constant complaints throughout the company, but since the organization rarely fired anyone, the situation continued. 

I counseled the manager on giving non-confrontational feedback to the VP and other senior level management using the SBI (Situation-Behavior-Impact) model: frame the situation, describe the person’s behavior, and then explain the impact of this behavior on your ability to do your job. When nothing else worked, the manager did this in a written report. Instead of initiating broader support, the manager got chastised for it. It became clear that nothing was going to be done about the situation. Certain he had done all he could do, he was able to resign with a clear conscience. 

He bucked the established culture, but only after he tried to go forward within the processes he had available to him. Not surprisingly, the manager landed on his feet in a better position at another company. When you practice integrity, you’ll always end up on the right side of things.

Links to all the other posts in this "Lead By Example" series:

•   Introduction
•   Be Honest
•   Be supportive 
•   Be reliable
•   Always seek to understand the big picture
•   Ask good questions
•   Be aware of your own assumptions

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This post was excerpted from “Lead by Example,” by Chris Musselwhite, originally published in American Executive June 2009

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