Living with Integrity can be tough. It’s how we behave when no one is watching, will we live our values or are we going to sell out or compromise. Knowing that every time we do we are the one that pays the price. Even if no-one else is watching or ever finds out, we know and our opinion of our self takes the hit.
And if people do find out, what’s the immediate and long term impact for us as an individual and the brand or company we lead?
Golf legend Tiger Wood’s much publicised fall from grace is an example of the catastrophic consequences a business can face when its brand is found to be inauthentic. The recent stories about the private life of the world’s No.1 celebrity golfer expose a huge gap between the perceived values of the Tiger Woods brand and those of the man himself.
As a leader and as a business we are all judged on whether we live up to the values that are associated with our brand.
Values driven leadership is about ensuring you live up to your values and the values promised by your brand. After all your customers and employees have bought in to your brand and what you stand for. Your behaviour and the behaviour of your employees then should also reflect the values of the brand. Of course if the values are what you’d like, rather than what is real then this becomes a challenge to sustain. So it is important to ensure your brand does not promise something you no longer believe in or cannot deliver.
If your values are aspirational then acting with integrity is going to be a serious challenge.
Every day we’re faced with choices, decision points, where we can uphold our values or not. At work we can be asked to do something ‘for the good of the company’ and yet we know that it’s against the company’s or our values. It’s a short term win and another nail in the coffin of that particular value that’s just been over-road. We may wish to behave differently but go along with it to keep our job.
Consistently acting against our personal values undermines our self confidence and self esteem. Keep this up and eventually we don’t feel good about ourself and neither does anyone else. Being consistently asked to act against the corporate or brand values begs the question how real are they and what problems are being stored up for future.
Let’s go back to the challenge facing Tiger Woods, now he has to re-build his brand so he can move forward. Some people I’ve talked to say it’s not possible. I think there is hope.
After all, authentic leadership is about who you are being as much as what you’re doing.