“Say what you mean and mean what you say,” says Frank Luntz, communications researcher and author of several books including What Americans Really Want…Really.

Today’s workforce craves truthful comprehensive communications and aligned action from leadership in all aspects. They want to know the what, why, how and when – and they care about the long-term implications of decisions made by their leaders.

Luntz’s research states that the most desirable company attribute for the workforce is ethical business practices. In other words, they want integrity in their leaders which includes truthfulness, responsibility and accountability.

Walt Disney is a great example of leadership with integrity. A cursory glance at Disney’s employee and customer satisfaction tells the story. Unfortunately Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling and financier Bernie Madoff are at the other end of the integrity spectrum – integrity was not just at the bottom of the list, it wasn’t even on the list. In those cases, millions of employees and clients were hurt while giving the business community a huge black eye.

Integrity Leads to an Engaged Workforce

When a leader exudes integrity, the workforce responds by being more engaged, productive and interested in the sustainability and future of the company. This is a win-win natural flow of engagement where integrity is ever-present as a sentry guarding the heart and soul of the company. Integrity motivates, inspires and engages at all levels of operation, and flows right through from employer to employee to the customer.

You can’t fake integrity. It is either real or fake; and when it’s found to be fraudulent, it can cause a catastrophe much like the Arthur Anderson accounting firm collapse following the Enron debacle. And, the negative impact on the employer/employee relations and consumer public relations of such a collapse is often unforgiving, leaving a black cloud over even the best of companies.

Integrity is Key to Engagement

When a company, through its leadership, speaks the truth and then aligns its actions with what it says, efficiency, effectiveness and engagement rise dramatically along with productivity and profitability. Creating integrity-based workplace environments benefits the employer and employee alike.

Integrity is grounded in reality. You cannot have one without the other. Whether you are a visionary or a pragmatist, your thoughts and actions always need to be fact-based. If you are not grounded in reality people will stop believing and following you. When leaders have no followers they are no longer leaders. They have lost their ability to motivate and inspire others. With the truth and facts on your side, you maintain your integrity to get through the worst of times and soar during good times.

Integrity sets a high standard. Leaders automatically become role models at all levels of management. They are watched, followed, emulated and mimicked. They are constantly “on” no matter what they are doing. Everything leadership says and does is front and center, and observed by everyone.

When leaders set a high standard for themselves, the standard for their followers is automatically raised. When those higher standards are clearly communicated visually through role modeling, verbally through electronic and print media, and audibly, they will not only be met but exceeded - the entire department and organization benefits.

Integrity yields an engaged loyal workforce. Like a picture leaderships’ actions speak a thousand words. With the right actions, your workforce becomes more loyal, involved and engaged in the outcome of your expectations and the future of the company. In the workplace, leaders set the standard and example for performance.

No longer can leadership expect the workforce to live by the paradigm of doing more with less while leadership follows a different set of standards. The workforce does recognize the different roles played by them and leadership but they also expect to be treated equally when it comes to information and communications, especially with regard to the company’s future and how it affects them.

Integrity plays a key role in the flow of information, engagement and long-term performance. It is the only component of your business model that can never be lifted and used by a competitor. With an honest leader at the helm, your company can reach new heights of success and sustainability.

© Pat Heydlauff, all rights reserved 2012

Author's Bio: 

Pat Heydlauff, a “flow of focus” expert, speaker and consultant designs workplace environments that unleash the flow of focus, maximize productivity and transform org charts for future sustainability. She is author of the forthcoming book, Engage, Unleash the Power of Focus and published books, Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It and Selling Your Home with a Competitive Edge. Contact her at 561-799-3443 or www.engagetolead.com.