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What it says on the tin - Honesty & Integrity

I have always found adverts interesting. Some of them are bizarre. Some of them are shockingly awful. Some of them you wonder how the advertising standards have not shut them down. Some of them use pizazz to boost the appeal. If you read 5 Prompts to Persuasive Power by Steve Adams, you will realise that many of them follow five elements to persuade you too.

What I loved about Ronseal’s advert ‘Does exactly what it says on the tin’ from 1994, is that it avoided all of the falsehood of pizazz, bizarre and exaggerated claims. It treated the viewer with respect and just told them honestly what it did. It was wood stain that dried quickly. It had honesty and integrity and therefore we felt we could trust it.


I have to be honest here, this week’s blog is on one of my core values, integrity. I firmly believe that integrity has to be the bedrock and foundation of any leadership. Without it, everything else will fail. So, what is integrity all about.

Integrity is doing the right thing even if you could get away with doing the wrong thing. Integrity is doing the right thing behind closed doors. Integrity is doing the right thing, even if it costs you. Integrity is not overplaying your position. Integrity is about the truth.

In buildings, engineers use the term structural integrity. Structural integrity is a phrase used to demonstrate that a building can withstand weather and earth movements and yet remain standing firm and safe, giving confidence to everyone using it.

Integrity in leadership is the same. Whatever is thrown at it, the leadership remains true and firm. But what is the value of integrity? Integrity is ‘who walks through the door when no-one is looking’. It is about doing the right thing, even if you could get away with doing the wrong thing. As leaders, having the value of integrity is about asking yourself, what do I want to be known for? Truth? Honesty? When the history books write up your life are you the hero or the villain?

People trust us if they know that we have integrity. They know that whatever happens we will do the right thing and can be relied on. That creates safety. People around us know that we are safe to be with because when things go wrong, we will have made a decision based on what is right to do.

So, how do you ensure you maintain integrity. It comes down to

Weed your garden

Build a trusted network

Seek advice

Weed your garden every day

Weeds can quickly spread. So the key is to do a little weeding each day. With your leadership integrity, it is about asking yourself each day how you did with your integrity? Did you bend the truth a little? Did you take a shortcut? Spot these early and weed it out.

Ask yourself how would it look if you took a twisted action and I was to be found out? What story would it tell? Is it good, right, honourable? Is it something I want to be known for? If it isn’t - then don’t do it. Ask yourself would it be fair if this was done to me? If it isn't then don’t do it.

Build a trusted network

Meet regularly with someone or a group who will hold you to account. A friend of mine calls it the Orego group, where you work on your ego. Build a trusting relationship and share near misses with them. Share weaknesses you have and ask them to ask you how they are doing each time you meet or chat on the phone. The aviation industry review near misses to ensure real accidents don’t happen. Allow that ‘black box’ review into your thinking and your trusted relationship to avoid the scandal.

Seek advice

If you are unsure of something, then ask a trusted colleague or coach. As a basic rule of thumb, if you are unsure if it is the right thing to do, then it probably isn't. But ask yourself and your trusted counsel whether it is ‘good, right or honourable’ and how it would look in the press.

Much of our media is filled with leaders who have taken the moral shortcuts and not acted with integrity. Whether that is in politics, business, education, religious or the charitable sector. Having integrity as a value is something that has to be worked on every day. It is so easy for the weeds of moral shortcuts to enter the garden of integrity and we need to check our character to weed them out and invite trusted colleagues to hold us accountable before the weeds spread. Integrity brings safety, trust and a confidence in the quality that you offer. Integrity is an asset. In fact, it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Can we help you?

We hope this blog has been helpful and if you would like some more targeted support to explore creating an authentic organisation, then Everyday Leader is here to help you. Our clients find their coaching empowering, as we help them gain a full perspective and find a way forward. Give us a call on 01449 710438 or email if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.


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