This is What I Do: Lead with Integrity

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Why Building An Extraordinary Company Requires That Leaders Lead With Integrity

If you’ve been a business owner for any length of time, you are probably pretty familiar with the idea of needing to do everything for your company.  When you start out, that is often the case.

As your company has gotten larger and people are taking on some of the tasks that you were doing, one of the hardest things that some leaders face is learning to let go.  Perhaps this sounds familiar:

You hire someone to do a job.  They are competent – hopefully.  You want them to take your vision and expand it.

You show them how to do the job and make sure they have the resources to do it.

They do the job.  It isn’t exactly how you did it.  Therefore, it needs adjustments.

You go back and have them make adjustments.

They do the job.  It isn’t exactly how you did it.  Therefore, it needs adjustments.

You go back and have them make adjustments.

They do the job.  Like a robot.  They are frustrated.  You’ve lost some of that creative juice and motivation that you hired them for in the first place, but at least it is safe.

What’s wrong with this picture?  If you are paying attention, you know in the back of your mind that they are a little, shall we say, “tweaked,” but you feel that you have some justification for what you’ve just done.

What you’ve just done is you’ve put street tires on a Jeep designed for off-roading.  You are planning to give out participation trophies instead of getting the commitments of those who play to win.

What you may not realize, though, is that your productivity is lower as well.

I was watching a movie called Van Helsing with one of my kids the other day. There was a scene in the movie where Igor was torturing a werewolf that Dracula had captured.  Dracula asked Igor why he tortured the werewolf, to which Igor responded, “Because it is what I do.”

It occurred to me that despite the nature of what he was doing, he was operating with integrity.  He was operating in “the state of being whole and undivided.” [i]

As silly as this interchange was, it struck a point:  What is it that we, as leaders, do?

In contemplating that for my own role, I began to explore the following questions:

What kinds of activities are keeping me from operating at my highest and best?

Where do I need to pour energy – each day – into becoming better?

How do I know what better looks like?

What are the things that I do?  Am I operating with integrity?

Is my purpose clearly defined?  Am I truly living it? If not, why not?

I had the great fortune shortly thereafter of meeting Joe Yazbeck of No Fear Speaking, who further challenged me to dig into what drives me, where I want to go and what the future might look like for me. Part of what came out of that process is understanding I needed to let go of the things which are outside of “what I do.”  This means that the people around me need to be the type of people who will be committed to our company vision, are excellent at what they do, and operate with integrity.

So, while corrective action and providing guide rails for our team members are always going to be part of what we do (because it protects the vision and values of the company), micromanaging is not.  If our focus is on building extraordinary companies, we need to make sure that we have the right people on the bus, so to speak, and drive it hard and consistently to capture that horizon.

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