There comes a point when we are all at a crossroad and have to make tough decisions that define who we are and what we believe in.
Recently, I read an open letter written by French fashion designer, Sophie Theallet, whose brand celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom, and respect for all lifestyles, that resonated with me.
Sophie stood up for what she believed in by publicly vowing to never design for our next first lady or associate with her in any way due to the rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign. I truly admired Sophie for standing up for what she believed was right.
There comes a point when we are all at a crossroad and have to make tough decisions that define who we are and what we believe in. Every time we turn around, people who consistently make wrong choices are dominating our headlines, while individuals who consistently make the right choices, seem to be a dying breed. This dying breed is also referred to as individuals with integrity.
Integrity is a characteristic that many of us value in ourselves, admire and try to emulate from others, and it’s one we look for consistently in our leaders. People either have integrity or they don’t. While it’s not something you’re born with, it requires a commitment to do what’s right and what is expected to the best of your abilities, at all times. Individuals with integrity consistently apply fair, just, and acceptable practices and strive for reliability and predictability in dealing with others and with issues. But what does having integrity really mean?
To me, integrity is staying true to yourself and your word, even when the choice is unpopular or may result in serious consequences. People with integrity live their life in accordance to their deepest values, letting their actions speak for who they are and what they believe in. Those values may include: consideration, compassion, transparency, honesty and ethics.
I lived most of my adult life trying (and sometimes failing) to be as consistent as possible in both words and actions, while managing to remain unflinching about who I am and what I stand for. These simple actions have helped shape my professional career because it taught me that the key to establishing loyalty and trust with my clients was to implement the very same tenets that I practiced in my personal life.
With the recent change in political climate, we have all witnessed the severity and criticality of issues that have arisen as a result of those acting without integrity. When a company loses their reputation as a result of these issues, it impacts customers, employees, and stakeholders alike. To safeguard against these issues, many companies have started adopting a more proactive approach by educating their employees on ethics and business integrity. In the spirit of being proactive, you too can earn the loyalty and trust of your clients by following these simple steps for business integrity:
- Be genuine and authentic. Adopt a what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) attitude so there are no surprises.
- Honor your commitments and keep your promises. If you promise to do something, do it. If you cannot guarantee something for a client, then don’t make a promise.
- Be open and truthful and always listen to the needs of your client. This will strengthen your relationship with them and ensure that you can trust what they tell you.
- Adopt transparency when dealing with your client and never lie to them. Lies can build up rather quickly and always have a way of catching up with you.
- Be consistent with your behavior. Don’t treat your client as if they are your best friend one day, and then act as they don’t exist the next.
- Accept responsibility for your own mistakes or failures and do what’s in your power to put things right.
- Be passionate and energetic about the work you’re doing. Your client will be able to tell if you are fully present and engaged or if you are only in it for personal gains.
- Provide the best insights, advice, and recommendations you can without making commitments you can’t or have no intention of keeping. Making unrealistic commitments will make your client doubt your word, reputation, and your company.
- If you do happen to make a commitment you cannot keep, let your client know as soon as possible so you can mitigate. Do not wait until the due date to inform them or renegotiate the terms, it will only infuriate them and destroy your credibility further.
- Find creative ways to thank your client and show them that you appreciate their business.
In summary, integrity is key to establishing and maintaining loyalty and trust. By choosing to invest in business integrity, you will be guaranteed a substantial return on investment (ROI). When a client trusts you, that trust will enable you maintain their loyalty which will result in the acquisition of long-lasting and repeat business opportunities, improved efficiency, and fostered innovation.
What are your thoughts on business integrity? I would love to hear your feedback and learn how integrity built loyalty and trust for your business.