A leader’s role is to see everything. You look for the right thinking, behavior and performance that will lift your company to its desired outcomes and vision. You make more tough decisions than fun decisions. You coach people to achieve their full potential. You keep projects on task. You look to the future to ensure the company prospers and endures. And, through all the twists and turns that embody the role of leader, nothing matters more than your ability to establish a culture of integrity and trust.
Integrity and trust are earned one day at a time, one deed at a time. The title of leader is nothing more than an opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to lead with integrity and trust, or confirm that you’re just a lot of talk, perhaps even a jerk. What many leaders fail to recognize is that they too are in the fish bowl, under the constant scrutiny of employees, customers, vendors and the community. Simply put, all that you do and say is being evaluated and judged in real time.
This “I’m watching you watching me” is all part of the natural process of how a leader builds character and masters the ability to lead with integrity and trust. Here are some no-compromise strategies to ensure that you do what you say you’re going to do:
- Your word is your contract: Keep commitments. Nothing destroys trust or whittles down your integrity than telling someone you’re going to do something and not do it. The size of the commitment doesn’t matter. Promising to return a phone or email call before the end of the day, telling an employee that you’ll get back to her with answer, or just being on time for a meeting, is the stuff that defines the no-compromise leader. Breaking commitments, showing up late or not showing up at all is compromise. When you give your word, deliver on your word.
- Live your own rules: Leaders that take the “do what I say, not as I do” path have the unique privilege of leading contaminated cultures that are full of drama and inefficiency. Leaders that can’t show up on time are mentoring and enabling that behavior in those they lead. Leaders that can’t deliver their projects on time, set the precedent for others to disregard deadlines. Model and mentor the thinking and behavior that will shape and define your company’s culture.
- Your mood is your company’s mood: Yes, you have massive pressure on you at all times. You push revenues. You fight to protect cash flow. You deal with performance issues, turnover and behavior problems. You deal with crazy “how the heck did that happen” problems. All this stuff is stressful and chips away at your mood. Your challenge is to keep your game face on and not allow your mood to infect everyone around you. Your employees can tell when you’re in a foul mood just by looking at you.
- The danger of disconnect: Leaders have so much to do and so many distractions coming at them, it’s easy to disconnect from your people and monitoring what’s really going on. Doing what you say your going to do requires a commitment to stay engaged and not get lost in that shiny new project. I see this all the time. A leader charges off on a new project and leaves the company to run on autopilot. Companies never run on autopilot - they spring leaks and slow down. If you really need to disconnect, you must have a leadership backup in place with the skills to plug in when you unplug.
- You are allowed an “oops”: You are not a super hero. Stuff happens. If you absolutely know that you cannot deliver what you promised, give those on the receiving end advanced warning as far in advance as possible. Anything less than 24 hours is a compromise, unless there is a true crisis to deal with.
Personally, I work hard on keeping commitments. It’s hard work when things get crazy and my plate is full. My team members count on me. Customers count on me. It hurts too much to break trust or have my integrity questioned to not deliver what I promise. That’s the work of being a No-Compromise Leader.
Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies, a business training and coaching company specializing in the professional beauty industry. Neil is a business trainer, coach, keynote speaker, an award-winning author, and the creator of the Team-Based Pay System. Neil is the author of Fast Forward, the definitive business resource book for salons and spas, and No-Compromise Leadership, winner of the 2010 IPPY Award for Business. Since 1993, Strategies has been transforming salon and spa businesses into dynamic, profitable, and sustainable team-based cultures. For more information on Neil and Strategies, go to www.strategies.com.