Your Integrity is Everything

Your Integrity is Everything

If I had to give just one piece of advice, to anyone, in any career, it would be this: your integrity is everything.

It’s at the core of who you are as a person. It builds trust, and trust is nearly impossible to regain, in any relationship, once it’s lost.

Over the years, I’ve seen so many talented people fall by the wayside because they were willing to cut corners to try to get ahead – padding an expense report, fudging numbers on their results, or “enhancing” their resume.

Eventually, this behavior catches up with them. They lose the respect of their teammates and peers, or it results in a major media event that ruins their career. If you have integrity and can be comfortable in your own skin, you won’t need to embellish or deceive. Your actions will represent you well.

Any day of the week, give me the “solid” performer who oozes integrity over the “rock star” performer who believes the end justifies the means.

What I Try To Remember: your integrity is your brand … and just like brands in the business world, your individual brand takes years to build and seconds to destroy.

Trust Your Gut and Act

In life and in business, we can (over) analyze everything forever. Don’t get me wrong, educating yourself will always be important. But here’s the reality: we’ll never have perfect information.

The times when we feel we actually do have perfect information are, ironically, the times when we can get ourselves into the most trouble. The biggest mistakes I’ve made in my career – and the hardest ones to recover from – are when I’ve ignored my intuition or failed to act on my convictions.

I remember when we were forming Verizon Wireless back in 2000 from four very large and several smaller businesses. We were trying to integrate a host of successful companies, each with its own views, into one organization. My boss told me it was my responsibility to set up the operational policies. The lobbying on process and policy began very quickly.

While I tend to operate on data, at some point you realize data can only take you so far. Without exception, when I hesitated making a firm decision and let the lobbying continue, I hurt the business and our customers. On the other hand, I found that putting myself in the position of our customers – mixed with a strong dose of intuition – gave me the best solutions.

What I Try To Remember: gather your information, test it with your intuition, and then act with urgency … anything else is abdicating your role as a leader.

You Always Have a Higher Gear

The most successful people I’ve met in my career have all shared a common belief: every day is a new opportunity to take their performance to a higher gear.

As a result, they’ve recognized the importance of surrounding themselves with exceptionally bright people and challenging previously held assumptions regarding peak performance.

One of the concepts I’ve come to embrace is the belief that your team has infinite capability and infinite capacity – a sense that no matter how well you are doing, you can always achieve a higher level of performance.

Early in my career I was a stress absorber for my team, trying to protect them from the tough aspects of their job. I began to realize I was not respecting their capabilities. I didn’t give them the opportunity to rise to the occasion and deliver spectacular results.

What I Try To Remember: If you surround yourself with the best people and expect that they can deliver well beyond what you might think, you will help them become all they can – you will, in effect, find a higher gear for your team.

If you’re 22 years old today, remember that your career is a very long ride.  You won’t be able to plot the path to success – but if you hold true to the three principles above throughout your journey, I think you’ll be in a great position to be ahead of the game at any age.

This was edited from a Lowell McAdam article published in linkedin May 20, 2015

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