Integrity is Priority #1

good-name

So I was speaking with some leaders about what is most important to them in their organization. 


And what was fascinating to me is that they didn’t describe the usual things…


– Leadership 


– Innovation 


– Emotional Intelligence


– Technical skills


And so on. 


Instead and in all seriousness, they spoke with me about integrity.


Integrity is what I call, doing the right thing, always!


And I was so impressed how these leaders understood that integrity is integral to their organizational culture, and is the cornerstone to it’s ultimate success in everything else it does. 


If everyone does the right thing, then the organization will do the right thing!


In the bible, we repeatedly learn the importance of following one’s moral compass. 


– In Ecclesiastes (7:1), “A good name is better than fine perfume.” 


– In Proverbs (22:1), “A good name is more desired than great wealth.”


And as in the photo above from a local synagogue, “A good name endures forever.”


What is new here though is that a good name and the integrity it takes to build that name for yourself is not just critical to your self development, but ultimately is really congruent and even synonymous with your organization’s success. 


If unfortunately some are not doing “the right thing,” we need to know about it, so we can course correct.


What we do matters not only to ourselves, but to the larger organization and community that we live in. 


Good is contagious, and it inspires more good, and this is what we want to be successful. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Wrong Way To Test

Test
As educators are pushed to improve students’ test scores, sometimes they run afoul.



In Atlanta, 8 former public school educators were sentenced to prison–three were sentenced to as long as seven years–for a conspiracy inflating student scores by “changing answers” to the tests. 



Interestingly, in another article today, we see that not only are students put to the test, but so are job applicants



In fact, “Eight of the top 10 U.S. private employers now administrator pre-hire tests in their job applications.”



While testing can certainly show some things, they can also miss the point completely. 



I know some people that test wonderfully–straight A students, 100+ on all exams, 4.0 GPAs–and for the most part, they are wonderful at memorizing and prepping for the test…but sometimes, not much else. 



Some of them have no practical knowledge, little critical thinking or creativity, and are even sort of jerky. 



And others who test poorly may be well thought, articulate, hands-on, and good with people–I’d take a million of them. 



“Failing the test” is not necessarily getting it wrong…it may just be errant to the current prevailing educational and professional testing system that values memorization and spitting back over insight, innovation, and practical skills. 



The challenge is how do we compare and contrast students and professionals competing for schools and career advancement, if we don’t easily have something standardized like a test to rally around. 



Maybe there is no getting away from more holistic assessments–where we look at bona fide life and career experience, a wide range of recommendations from teachers, coaches, and supervisors, hard and soft skills (including communications and interpersonal), professional and personal ethics, genuine interest in the pursuit, and the motivation to work hard and contribute.  



Tests–students cheat, educators game the system, memorization and robotic answers are the name of the game to get the A, and boring homogeneity–but it’s often the easy way out to evaluating candidates for a phony success. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What’s Relationships Got To Do With It

Professional_networking

It is said that one of the key differences between leaders and staff is that leaders are supposed to spend significantly more time on relationships, while staff tend to concentrate on the task at hand. 

A number of professors from the University of Virginia indicated that leaders who didn’t spend at least 50% of their time and effort on relationship building, tended to be much less successful professionally. 
According to them, there are 3 areas of professional competence–i.e. necessary skill-sets:
1) Technical–what you need to know in terms of subject matter expertise to do your job (e.g. finance, engineering, sales, etc.)
2) Cognitive–these are the information-processing abilities to reason and problem-solve (e.g. perception, learning, judging, insight, etc.)
3) Relationship–this is interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence (e.g. teaming, motivating, resolving-conflict, influencing, etc.)
As you role changes from staff to supervisor and to manager, so does your time spent:
Staff:  Technical 60%, Cognitive 20%, Relationships 20%
Supervisors: Technical 40%, Cognitive 25%, Relationships 35%
Manager: Technical 15%, Cognitive 35%, Relationships 50%
In others words, as you advance from staff to management, you job changes from being the “technical expert” to spending more time solving specific problems and building relationships. 
Additionally, managers who delegated, supported, trusted, and empowered, and didn’t micromanage the tasks–we’re the kinds of managers/leaders that people wanted to work for and would give more of themselves to.  
So leaders who excel at building meaningful professional relationships, benefit not only from developing important and trusting networks of people around them, but also from actually developing a more satisfied and productive workforce. 
Relationship building is much more than the proverbial “3-martini lunch,”–although 1 or 2 don’t hurt :-)–rather it means:
1) Identifying and surrounding yourself with people that are smarter than yourself–relationships are most fruitful and enjoyable with someone that can challenge you.
2) Reaching outside your “normal” boundaries (organizational, functional, industry, geography) to diversify the sphere of influence–new ideas and best practices are not limited to any one domain. 
3) Ensuring that integrity and trust are cornerstones of any any relationship–there is no compromising values and principles for any relationship!
4) Giving of yourself in terms of self-disclosure, assistance to others, and our most precious resource of time–relationships are not built on thin air, but involve work by both parties; it’s an investment. 
Finally, while relationship-building is critical to leadership success, it is important to surround ourselves with the “right” people as Harvard Business Review (July-August 2011) states this month: Bring people with positive energy into your inner circle. If those around you are enthusiastic, authentic, and generous, you will be too.”  
So choose your professional network as carefully as you would choose your friends.
(Source Photo: here)