Management Success Series Tip #5: The Integrity of Management
So far in the Management Success Series, we discussed essentials like influence, visibility and employee development. There’s an old saying that not all managers are leaders, which is unfortunately true. Some people are put in managerial positions for which they are simply not suited. But the opposite is also true: good managers are good leaders. We look up to good leaders because they motivate, support and influence. Think of those leaders that inspired you. What made them special? There are a variety of answers to this question. But one of the most consistent elements of good leadership is integrity, tip #5.
It’s important to remember that as a manager, you are a leader of others who operate under your direction. Further, individuals within your organization will respond to your moves as their manager, regardless of what you do for positive or negative. Managers are role models, for better or worse. For example, managers who show unethical behavior or show poor leadership will send the message to their organization that such behavior is acceptable. Managers who illustrate poor leadership will lose the confidence of employees, which can impact their overall effectiveness in getting things done. In contrast, managers who show the willingness to stand up for their people and who remain honest with their teams will earn the respect and trust of their direct reports. The same goes for managers who deliver on their promises to employees for that promotion or for getting them onto a special project.
Some people refer to this as managerial courage – the willingness to say what needs to be said and doing what is ultimately right, even when unpopular. Now I know what you’re thinking; this sounds like a false ideal. I would argue, though, that good managers will always do what they believe is right because they have integrity. But no one is perfect. The fact of the matter is that even good managers can be overruled or lose a debate. Remaining honest and open with your employees, though, can help maintain trust when you can’t deliver the promotion as originally scheduled or get your employee put on that special project.
I’ve worked for both great and bad managers. One of most consistent themes that separated the good from the bad was their integrity. The good managers remained honest, open and direct. They held you accountable, but were the first ones to give you support when you needed it. And you knew they were telling the truth. The bad managers were always there to deliver the good news, but had others deliver the bad. Good managers are good leaders, and leadership requires integrity.
It may sound obvious: be honest with your people and fulfill your promises. But especially if you’re new to management, you’ll soon realize that this is not always easy. You’ll be made aware of sensitive information, such as a project being cancelled, or possibly a looming reorganization that has not been announced publicly. So when your employee comes in and is excited about their next assignment, you may know they won’t work for you for much longer, but you can’t tell them. And you’ll see an employee in a different department get that promotion you think should have gone to your employee. How do you deliver this information? The course of business is ever-changing and can be difficult to navigate for even the best of leaders.
The key, though, is to remain honest and true to those around you in the office. Things happen that are often out of our control, but you’re still responsible for getting results. The only way to get results is to have a team that respects you and is willing to follow your lead no matter what the circumstances may be. So remember, businesses and economies cycle up and down. As a manager, holding onto your integrity through good times and bad will help employees maintain their trust in you as their leader.