Someone They Can Trust

Someone They Can Trust

By Dave Baragrey


All they really want is to work for someone they can trust. That is what most employees at your business are looking for. If you have gained their trust and continue to show a high level of integrity in everything you do, your staff will do everything they can to accomplish any goal you set before them. Integrity is the greatest trait any leader can possess. Any manager can have good short-term success but a leader without high standards of integrity will never have great long-term success.


What are the characteristics of a manager with integrity? 


Think about the managers you have had in the past. Which ones are the people you respected most? Which manager did you work the hardest for? Which manager did you achieve your best accomplishments? The manager you respected the most was probably one with high standards. A manager that you learned from and one that you still strive to emulate. Below are some characteristics of managers of integrity.


· Trust goes both ways - Managers who have a reputation for their integrity have built a firm foundation of trust and loyalty to both the business and the people who operate the business. They trust the people who work for them to do their job well and they allow them to do it. They give the direction and the expectation for results and trust the staff to do their best to achieve the expected results.


· Loyal to the business – The manager always makes decisions that are good for the business. There are not underlying agendas that benefit him/her personally.


· Fair, but tough - Typically, they are known for being fair, but tough. When a team member is dragging down the rest of the team they will fix the problem. Fixing the problem may be more training or termination. Either way, the problem will be fixed. They usually have high standards for themselves and those that work for them.


· Considerate - When they make decisions, they weigh the impact of the decision on how it will affect their customers, the staff and the company. They don’t talk down to staff. A good leader knows every staff member is important to the success of the business and treats their staff with respect.


· Honest - The question never arises whether they are telling the truth. Trust is never an issue.




How do you develop integrity? 


There is not one easy answer to this question. Integrity is built, one brick at a time. It takes time to build the reputation of integrity. The character of a manager is judged daily by both their staff and upper management. A manager’s reputation of integrity is slowly built on the actions (and reactions) of day-to-day activities on a fragile foundation that can be easily toppled with one wrong move.


How do you lose integrity? 


Every day we face the challenge of losing our integrity. It only takes one incident to erode the integrity you have worked hard to build. When you instruct the receptionist to tell a caller you are out when you not, you erode your character. When you erupt at a minor incident your staff questions how you will react to a major problem if this is how you react to small problems.


When you refuse to make the tough decision to fire someone when they are dragging the team down you show a lack of courage and character to do what is best for the team. I often compare managing a business to coaching a sports team. If a basketball player goes cold and can’t make the shots you put him on the bench and replace him with another player. You then work with the struggling shooter to help him improve his shot in practice. You can’t forfeit a loss for the team by protecting the playing time for one player. The coach has to work with the player to make improvements or allow him the opportunity to play for another team.


Arthur Andersen is a great example of a high profile company who has had a great reputation for years. Now suddenly, because of a lapse of integrity, they are losing customers who have lost respect for this once “power house” consulting firm. Their customers may come back (or not) but they may never recover from the lapse of integrity with their staff. Will the staff ever trust the leadership of the company again? This is likely to be an internal struggle for the accounting firm for years to come.


The leadership of your company is held to higher standards than other staff members. The expectations from the staff is that every manager will operate with the highest level of integrity at all times, treating all staff members and customers fairly and equally. This applies to all members of management, from the front line managers to the CEO. The level of integrity for the entire organization is determined both on each individual manager as well as the management staff as a whole. Any level of distrust found with any individual manager can taint the level of trust the staff members have with the entire organization.


A manager calls his sales staff into his office following a disastrous month and threatens to fire all of them if sales don’t improve. What do you think the results are going to be? My guess is he won’t have to fire them. They will all leave within the year. No one wants to work for a manager who isn’t concerned about the individual and is only focused on this month’s sales report. The problem is much deeper than this month’s result. This month’s poor sales may be the result of a manager who is not developed the trust of his/her staff.


Most of us have had the opportunity to work for managers who we have respected and consider a mentor. Unfortunately, we may have also had the opportunity to work for the other side. We may have worked for a manager or a company that tears down our self-esteem and manages using fear as a motivator. They are dishonest to staff, customers and shareholders alike. Their allegiance to making the bottom line look better regardless of how it has to be done. Those companies are going the way of Enron and Arthur Anderson. If you are managing for long-term success, you must manage with integrity and build the organization form the inside out. Build the people that operate the company and lead with integrity to realize great long-term success. The bottom line will take care of itself.


Here is a quote to remember:

"Few things are harder to put up with than a good example."

- Mark Twain (1835-1910)




Dave Baragrey is a business consultant and sales trainer for Publishers-Edge, a Special Section syndicate for print and on-line special sections, and Consulting business specifically designed to help newspapers and shopping guides.

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