I have been schooled to, and consequently for the most part, acted with decisiveness.
The Canadian-American self-development expert, Brian Tracy declared that “…decisiveness is a characteristic of high performing men and women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.”
And through my experience with business, training and management consulting, the most ineffective leaders are those who dither and who fail to be strong minded, resolute, or who just can’ t make decisions effectively.
This sort of behaviour irks me to no end.
But over the past week, the socio-political climate in our country has made me examine my own beliefs on how important integrity is, even as decisiveness is necessary.
“I look for three things in hiring people. Integrity, intelligence, and a high energy level. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” Warren Buffet is reported as saying this.
Why is integrity so important when you are a leader?
Integrity is sometimes a daunting word, especially for business owners, bosses and at times, even for employees.
Perhaps, if you start by understanding that Integrity does not mean perfection, it becomes less troublesome an idea to cope with, especially when you have a job that might require hard and shrewd bargaining, or colloquially known to many politicians as “horse-trading”.
You don’t have to be angelic or as pure as the driven snow to act with integrity.
At core, it is about being true to yourself. This authenticity allows you to act with integrity, and in turn, people around you feel confident about looking to you for leadership and guidance.
So, what about being decisive then?
History is peppered with examples of remarkable victories in many aspects from wars, to business, and of course to politics and governance, where leaders have had the courage to make decisions without unnecessary hesitation.
But sometimes you are faced with a choice of deciding between being decisive, or acting with integrity. And, in such instances, how should you choose to act?
Before you choose the most expedient answer, allow me to suggest or offer some perspectives.
At the workplace, integrity is one of the top attributes of great leaders. There is a wide body of evidence readily available that indicates that both employees and leaders place a high premium on integrity among executives.
In my leadership coaching sessions, I notice that nearly everyone wants to work for those who are ethical. They always argue that if they know that their leader acts with integrity, he or she will treat them right whilst doing what is best for the business.
My coachees, who are both employers and employees expect consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes.
I understand this notion, because even I expect the same from my clients, partner and employees.
For me, a person with integrity is someone who shows a deep commitment to do the right thing for the right reason, regardless of the circumstances. People who live with integrity are honorable and incapable of breaking the trust that has been given to them.
These are the best people to work for, to engage as partners, or to employ.
Therefore, leaders need to comprehend that their words, actions, decisions and methodologies help to shape a company’s true values, and its culture.
Personally, with my own team, I have had the best results when I have acted strategically, but also with compassion and integrity.
The correlation between integrity and trust cannot be underestimated in any relationship, be it client-vendor; employer-employee; wife-husband; or even government-the “rakyat”.
You will be judged on character and competence. But remind yourself that at the end of the day, your character is founded on your integrity. And, it shows others if you can be trusted or not.
At the workplace, when your team believes that you have integrity, they will invariably connect this characteristic of yours with empathy, instead of self-centeredness.
sonal skills, such as subject matter expertise, decisiveness, determination, and passion has to be grounded on a bedrock of integrity to really make you authentic and believable.
If you are someone with aspirations for leadership, and you successfully live and act with integrity, while being highly competent, you become a massive asset to your organisation, and ultimately, to your yourself.
Yes, you must act decisively.
But remember that without a firm personal foundation of integrity, which means honour, uprightness, decency, fairness, ethics, and an adherence to a principled existence, that is both visible and credible, you will never really achieve sustainable success.
So, look for employers, partners, employees as well as leaders who demonstrate to you that they have integrity. And, of course, become a person known for this non-negotiable trait.
Do this for your sake, and for the sake of our collective future.
Shankar R. Santhiram is managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times