You start out with the best of intentions, full of enthusiasm for your new role or new organisation. It’s the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.
At first, it isn't difficult to live up to your ideals. But slowly, over the months and years, you allow yourself to make small compromises. Not big ones, just little adjustments that allowed your day to run a little smoother or which pushed things forward a few degrees faster.
How sure are you that those small adjustments you've been making aren't leading you away from the person you once hoped to be?
Here are five questions to ask yourself.
1 When Was The Last Time You Stood In A Junior Colleague's Shoes?
One characteristic of good leaders is their ability to pay attention to the people around them, particularly when this attention is not expected and also will not be rewarded. Remind yourself what it was like for you when you first joined your organisation perhaps as a young and inexperienced individual. Was there someone who kept an eye on you?
Do you regularly take a few minutes to get to know a new, much more junior colleague and then check in with them from time to time to see how they're doing?Generously making time for someone who doesn’t expect it and doing so with kindness says a lot about the state of your integrity.
2 When Was The Last Time You Said No To Something On Principle?
No one likes a nay-Sayer and this isn't a suggestion you become a negative influence. Instead, this is a question that you should ask yourself at least once a year. If you're doing a job that requires you to exercise any kind of judgment, you will inevitably meet situations which create a conflict between what is expedient and what is right.
Think about this one – it can be hard to say no when everyone else is carrying on regardless. But if it's not right – it's not right – even if by saying no you will make yourself unpopular.
3 When Was The Last Time You Openly Acknowledged You Got Something Wrong?
None of us is perfect, but in expert cultures, this truth can occasionally be concealed. There is nothing which will safeguard your integrity more than your willingness to acknowledge your imperfections – however small. As a leader, if you can show that you're willing to acknowledge when you get it wrong – you set a powerful example for others to follow.
4 When Was The Last Time You Gladly Sent Praise Elsewhere?
When you're working in teams your success is based on everyone's contribution. If you're leading the team, the rules of integrity are completely clear.
The team's success belongs to them and the team's failure belongs to you.
Consider whether you are upholding this attitude in your work and look for opportunities to focus praise where it is deserved.
5 When Was The Last Time You Looked The People In The Front Line In The Eye?
If you're a senior leader, chances are you will spend a lot of your time away from the front line. Making decisions that will impact on your colleagues is far easier to do in the abstraction of a boardroom. Hold yourself to a higher standard and regularly interact with the people working at the sharp end.
If you can't look them in the eye – it's a sign.