Leadership and Team Building: Integrity

 

dictionary.com

Integrity

in. teg.ri.ty

noun

1.

adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

2.

the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.

3.

a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship’s hull.

I took a class last summer at the University of Nevada in business ethics.  That class reinforced the value that I had developed during my 29 years spent in leadership roles.  Integrity as defined above by dictionary.com provides a summary of those values in one simple word “integrity”.

As a team builder it is crucial to adhere to moral and ethical principles.  Consistent soundness of moral character and honesty are the foundations of building a winning team.  All the discussions that I have about team building encompass my employees, customers, vendors, and even my competitors.  Integrity is one of the qualities that an organization develops by walking the walk.  Everyone that you associate with on a regular basis knows if you have it or if you don’t.  It is a waste of breath to try and tell someone you organization has integrity.  It is obvious based on actions.

Winning teams have integrity.  The states of being whole, entire, and undiminished, are qualities of winning teams.  The integration of integrity as a core value of the team is a driving force that can unite the team during challenging periods and as successes are celebrated.  Integrity promotes pride in the team. It not only helps to retain quality team members but also attracts the best of the best applicants.

Winning teams are sound.  I cannot say that they are unimpaired or in perfect condition because team members are human.  Perfection is unattainable, and unsustainable as a human.  The pursuit of perfection leads to false expectations and resentments.  Excellence is attainable and sustainable.  A team with integrity is on the path to excellence.

The team’s development of integrity begins with its leadership.  By walking the walk and leaders will promote integrity. Integrity then will become engrained in the culture of the team.  That leads to building a happy, healthy and winning team.

Leadership: Be The Ball Danny

“Be the ball Danny” is a one of my favorite lines from the movie Caddie Shack.  That scene in the film is when Chevy Chase wows his caddie by sinking putt after putt while wearing a blindfold.  It is an example of being able to accomplish a goal in adverse conditions.  This level of achievement requires confidence, talent and the use of all of your senses.

As a leader; confidence, talent and the use of my senses have helped me through many adverse conditions.  It is important not only to have confidence in your own ability but also the ability of the team.  The level of confidence a leader has in the team is demonstrated by actions.  Actions speak louder than words.  Having hired people with the knowledge and skills to excel at the tasks required it is important to have confidence that your team will shine in adverse conditions.  Belief in the team during crucial periods unifies the organization and brings value to the contributions of the team members.      

Leadership through adverse conditions is a great test of talent.  The ability to communicate, delegate, and follow up will be tested when times are tough.  The time that has been invested in building relationships with employees, vendors and even your competitors can help get through rough times.  The ability to inspire the team is developed by consistently demonstrating values that reinforce the culture of the organization and a genuine concern for the success of all of your team members. 

Leadership senses include vision, the ability to listen, communication, and the ability to stay in touch.  Vision will help look for the next opportunity for growth and the ability to glace back will help identify successes and identify areas for improvement.  Listening and communicating effectively reinforce the connections required to stay in touch with your customers and team members.  I value the successes that we have achieved during times of adversity.  Transforming challenges into winning opportunities have boosted the level of confidence in both myself and my team members.

Positive Discipline Approach

It is important to be consistent in how you treat all of your employees. The behavior that is not acceptable for one should not be acceptable for any one. For example making excuses and allowing one employee to be continually late makes it seem unfair if you need to document that behavior in someone else.

As a manager processing an employee’s termination paper work is a necessary evil. Having managed in a couple of industries that are typically high turnover, there are a couple of things I learned along the way.

I always take the time required during disciplinary action to truly listen to the person being written up. Was there something about the company’s actions that were contributing to the employee’s ability not to comply? Were policies clear and consistent? Is there something the company can do going forward to aid in insuring future compliance such as scheduling changes or coaching?

Proper documentation, listening, and coaching can help change a typically uncomfortable situation into a more positive experience. By correctly handling the tasks required for disciplinary documentation you can actually strengthen the group. It gives the manager an opportunity to display that they are not just here to catch you doing it wrong. I do not hire employees with the hope that they fail. People after the first and second write ups are still team members and deserve the support of management. By the third written notice and termination the responsibility rests firmly on the employee’s shoulders and is solely the result of their actions.

Leadership and Team Pride

Team pride was a key component to the success of my company.  The core principles of the organization inspired the participation of all the team members in the value, consistency, and quality that became associated with our brand.

Let’s take a look at some of the flagships in their industries Nordstrom’s, Mercedes Benz, and Coach Bags.  They are not successful because they are the cheapest.  People recognize their reputation for consistent quality.  That recognition promotes a level pride in their employees, customers, and vendors and a desire to be associated with that brand.  It also establishes a level of excellence that their competitors strive to achieve.

As an employee it is best to work for an organization that you are proud to be a part of.  When asked where you work it is awesome to be able to respond with pride.  That pride draws quality people toward your organization and inspires current employees to want to stay.

The holiday season is upon us and the malls are filled with shoppers.  The retailer’s names on the shopping bags they carry trigger opinions we have about those vendor’s brands.  Customers find satisfaction in being associated with winning brands.  That principle is clearly illustrated by the sale of high end handbags.  Association with a quality product sends a message about the owner.

My company was not successful because we were cheap.  I charged a fair price for the consistent quality, and value that we provided.  I encouraged my crew to not worry about being the fastest we wanted to be the best.  Our value was created by integrity and quality.  My crew was part of a company that they could be proud of.  That pride grew into loyalty among the members of my team and spread to my customers, vendors, and created a level of excellence that my competitors strived to attain.

Leadership: Is it a choice?

The best leaders are born with personality strengths and character traits that impact their leadership role.

Everybody is different.  Some people are outgoing while others are passive.  There are those with drive, integrity, and perseverance while other may exhibit a different list of personality traits.  Many personality traits are so deeply engrained in the makeup of an individual that the role they play in social, business and academic settings is often determined without a conscious effort.

Those that gravitate toward leadership roles have a combination of personality traits that drive them to lead.  Successful leaders also possess personality traits that inspire others to follow them.

Of course natural leaders do not always lead and those who may generally follow always do so.  It is the transition from one role to the other that requires a conscious decision and focus.

Personality traits can and should be worked on to promote personal growth.  Everyone has good qualities along with those that could be improved.  The best way to redirect or hone personality traits is through the development of personal skills.  In a leadership role those skills may include: listening, open-mindedness, conflict resolution, vision, and the ability to delegate.

Personally I have never thought about being a leader.  I seem to gravitate to that role.  My conscious decision is made when I am in a group setting that I don’t want to lead for whatever reason.  I have to focus on stepping back and encouraging someone else to take the lead.  The best example of this is the class room setting.   There seem to be some students that would never participate if not encouraged to do so.

It is important to be true to yourself no matter which role comes naturally.  There are many examples of people who have successfully transitioned from one role to the other.  I believe it can be done it just requires focus and personal development.

Thanks to Those Leaders That Are Giving Back

Today is Thanksgiving Day.  I just want to take a moment to thank the leaders in my life that have given me so much.

I returned to college after 30 years in business.  During the time I have been back at school there have been many people who are successful leaders in their field that have taken their time to help with my education.

I am a member of the entrepreneurship club at the University of Nevada and there have been a number of busy executives that have shared their valuable time and input with the members of our club.  They donate their time to contribute as moderators, guest speakers, and mentors.

I have an internship with the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization.  That group has been awesome.  They give me projects that are both educational and challenging.  Li Han Chan the vice president of operations at NIREC provides insights into the business world that are helping me further develop the skills I need to effectively assess the potential value of business opportunities.

The staff members at the university have shared their experience and help as well.  There are many examples where they have gone the extra mile.  My instructors are happy to take the time to answer questions that I may have, long after I have completed their class.  The staff of the library, research center, computer lab, and technology center has all gone out of their way to share the benefit of their expertise with me.

Thanks you to all the leaders, specialists and mentors that go above and beyond to give back to those in school.  Your contributions mean a great deal.   I hope that you all have a great Thanksgiving Day.

Leadership’s Role Outside the Workplace

    The role of leadership in the work place is expected.  There are also many benefits generated by going the extra mile through promoting group activities outside the work place.  Those opportunities can be group sporting events, picnics, and holiday parties.

Group sporting event such as company sponsored softball and bowling teams or group outings to professional events such as a baseball or football games are great ways to build winning teams.  Promoting a group trip to a pro sporting event is a lot of fun.  It provides an opportunity to have a tailgate BBQ and socialize with your co-workers.  Group tickets for baseball games can be purchased at a discount and possibly your organization will get recognized on the score board.

I have managed companies that sponsored employee softball and volleyball teams.  It is a win/win experience for the employees and the organization when they unite for team activities. A fun and health environment is created for the group to bond outside of work.

It is important to be responsible is alcohol is served at any function promoted by the work place.  The organization is responsible to make sure that all laws are followed to avoid being held liable.  It is a smart plan to have designated drivers if any alcohol is served.

Employee picnics offer fun for everyone.  Picnics create opportunities for family fun.  Not only the workers get a chance to interact but also the spouses and kids get to join in.  As the owner of a company, several times a year we had picnics at the local lake.  They were awesome.  We fired up the BBQ, fished, played horse shoes and went boating.  It became a great way to build moral.

Holiday parties can also provide the organization a chance to give back.  The last couple of holiday parties I hosted switched from evening events to weekend brunch.  The daytime events seemed to eliminate some of the embarrassing holiday party tales I had heard from past years.

The bottom line is to give back and show that you care.  In leadership actions speak louder than words.  When employees get together outside of work for happy and healthy activities everybody benefits.