Given the current job market, I have been thinking lately about how limited the classic resume is in terms of communicating personal characteristics such as integrity, respect and passion. It is unfortunate that the first review of candidates is based entirely on a piece of paper that is one-dimensional. This reinforces the argument that we all need to build a strong network so that we have internal sponsors who can verbally communicate some of our personal values.
On a recent blog post, I received a comment that offered an outstanding quote on Integrity. It was a quote from 1998, by a Captain Conway, a platoon commander at the USMC’s Officer Candidate School. He said, “Integrity is like virginity. Once you lose it, you can never get it back.” In my opinion, this is very accurate. I see too many people in business, that are willing to compromise their integrity and business ethics – “just this one time”. It is as if it is a white lie and the ends-justify-the-means. The problem with this approach is that it is a very slippery slope. You do it once and the next time is much easier. We read every day about the executive who siphoned hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars out of the company. It seems each time, they started with a forged business dinner and that turned into a forged business trip and the rest is history.
The other issue is that your reputation cannot be repaired. We have all worked with, and known people in business who have demonstrated that they will cut corners and walk over people – as needed. This may have been effective for them in the short term, but it clearly tarnished their reputation in most people’s eyes. This is extremely difficult to repair.
Respect is another critical business element. There are plenty of examples of great political, military and business leaders who ruled with a draconian fist and were extremely effective. However, I can point to twice as many business leaders who built an environment of trust and respect that were just as effective. Leading soldiers into battle and leading employees in business are two different activities. Employees can quit and get a different job or worse yet, they can ignore or undermine you. I recognize that every leader has a different style. However, research has shown, leaders do not need to be feared to be effective. Treating a team with respect and building a positive culture will produce greater value in the long run. Employees who have gained the respect of their manager, feel good about their contribution and are able to go home to their families with their heads held high are far more effective than employees who are yelled at and talked down to. No project or job is more important than an individual’s self-esteem.
There was a time when employees stayed with companies for 20 years and felt they needed to put up with the difficult boss. Today, they have options and have no problem leaving. Building a positive culture of integrity and respect are critical to motivating and retaining talent. Your thoughts?
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