#090 – Integriosity – Re-Align Ingredient #2 – Intentional Leaders – Commitment to Authenticity

ESSENCE:  An organization will not faithfully “do right” through business a better way without Intentional Leaders. One of the four important aspects of the Intentional Leadership required to lead an organization to faithfully “do right” through business a better way is a commitment to AuthenticityAuthenticity is the embodiment of the “wholeness” of Integrity, which is at the core of Integriosity® . While Authenticity is important to the Righteousness component of Integrity from an organizational perspective, the heart of the organization will not shift if that shift is not also occurring in the hearts of its leaders and being witnessed through the actions of the leaders–again and again.  The four organizational components of Authenticity–Identity, Sincerity, Consistency and Transparency–also apply to the Authenticity required of Intentional Leaders.   It is the “integrity of heart” that characterized the leadership of King David.

In our last three posts (#087, #088 and #089), we began to explain the second of five key ingredients for executing a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture–Intentional Leaders.  We considered three of the four aspects of Intentional Leaders (Commitment to a WHO Identity, Commitment to a Bigger WHY, and Commitment to Cultivating Culture), and this post will consider a fourth–Commitment to Authenticity.

Re-Align Ingredient #2:  The Components and Importance of Authenticity

If you have been following our last three posts on Intentional Leadership, the description of Authenticity may sound familiar.  In some sense, Authenticity is the underlying force driving Commitments to a WHO Identity, a bigger WHY and Cultivating Culture.  It is the embodiment of the “wholeness” aspect of Integrity, which is at the core of Integriosity®.

You may recall from post #039 (“Keep First Things First”) that the word Integriosity comes from Integrity and Generosity, and the Biblical “First Things” principles central to Integrity are Righteousness and Kingdom.  You may also recall that we devoted post #043 (“Need for Authenticity”) to exploring why Authenticity is important to the Righteousness component of Integrity from an organizational perspective.  We identified four components of Authenticity:

  • Identity:  The organization is clear about its WHY–its purpose, priorities and its values.
  • Sincerity: The WHY of the organization that is written down is actually the WHY to which its leaders are committed.
  • Consistency:  The organization operates consistently in accordance with its WHY.
  • Transparency: The organization is clear and open about its WHY–what it wants to achieve and for what it stands.
Re-Align Ingredient #2:  Intentional Leaders Committed to Authenticity

Leading an organization to faithfully “do right” through business a better way requires mind-shifts that lead to heart-shifts, both in the leaders and in the organization.  The heart of the organization will not shift if that shift is not also occurring in the hearts of its leaders and being witnessed through the actions of the leaders–again and again.  To once again quote Seth Godin:

If you’ve read ten employee handbooks that say one thing when the company does another, you’re likely to not believe the eleventh one. When you hear a boss say ‘people before profits’, you’re likely to hold back before baring your soul and sharing your fears. “Trust me” is easy to say, especially when you mean it, but hard to hear.  Showing tends to beat telling, and it takes a very long time to earn trust when you’re running counter to culture.

For an organization to embody Authenticity, its leaders must be committed to Authenticity–its that simple.  Being committed to Authenticity (a key to Righteousness, which is at the core of Integrity) requires being committed to each of its four components.

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. (Psalm 78:72)

Re-Align Ingredient #2:  Authenticity in Leaders

One of the greatest leaders in the Bible is David, and the leadership of David is beautifully and simply summed up in Psalm 78:72:

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.

“Integrity of heart”–sounds an awful lot like what we have described as the Authenticity element of Righteousness, which itself is at the core of the Integrity aspect of Integriosity.  What do the four components of Authenticity look like for Intentional Leaders?

  • Identity:  The leader exemplifies a WHO identity and is clear about their commitment to the organization’s bigger WHY.  It is what we described in posts #087 (Commitment to WHO Identity) and #088 (Commitment to Bigger WHY)Whether or not the leader decides to announce their WHO identity, they must prioritize it and live it out.  Even if not announced, it will look “different”–different in how the leader responds to ethical questions, different in how the leader responds to employee mistakes, different in how the leader guides the selection of products, the acceptance of customers and the treatment of vendors.  However, the leader must be openly and publicly committed to the identity–the bigger WHY–of the organization.
  • Sincerity:  It is not enough for a leader to announce a WHO identity or alignment with the organization’s stated WHY–they must actually prioritize that identity and believe in that WHY as the ultimate WHY for the right reasons (and not just a nice marketing slogan to try to make people feel good while they are being driven through Profit as Purpose).  It is what we explained in post #079 (“Real” Culture, Purpose and Values).  The leader’s mind must have been RENEWED and their heart changed.  Organizational heart-shifts require leadership heart-shifts.  As John Maxwell and Seth Godin observe, people will know and they will follow:

People emulate what they see modeled. . . . What leaders do, potential leaders around them do. What they value, their people value. The leaders’ goals become their goals. (John Maxwell)

People are watching you. They’re not listening to your words as much as they’re seeking to understand where the boundaries and the guard rails lie, because they’ve learned from experience that people who do what gets rewarded, get rewarded.  (Seth Godin)

  • Consistency.  The leader must prioritize and live out a WHO identity even when it is difficult, and they must make clear through words and actions that the organization’s WHY applies to everyone, under all circumstances, all the time.  That means the Re-Imagined Purpose and Re-Imagined Values that drive the Re-Imagined Culture apply to the leaders, apply in little things as well as big, and apply even when it may be painful (and unprofitable).  It is at the heart of what we explored in post #089 (Commitment to Cultivating Culture).  Here are some wonderfully insightful quotes from Seth Godin that illuminate Consistency:

Be clear and consistent about how we do things around here. It’s going to be a long time before people act like they own the place. After all, you own the place and you don’t even act like you do most of the time.

If you want to build a vibrant organizational culture . . . the simple rule is: the rules apply to people in power before they are applied to those without. It’s easy to rationalize the alternative, to put yourself first. After all, you’ve somehow earned the authority to make an exception for yourself. But when we avoid that temptation and expose ourselves to the rules first, obey the rules first and make the sacrifices first, our culture is more likely to stick.

A commitment, from the top, that this place is going to be different. The commitment is open-ended. It involves leading and showing up and keeping promises, for months and years into the future.

Repainting your house the same color it already was feels like a waste. . . . But if you don’t do it, time and entropy kick in and the house starts to fade. The same can be said for 1,000 elements of your organization, including your relationships with customers, staff, suppliers and technology. The . . . culture in your organization . . . constantly needs another coat of paint.

  • Transparency:  A leader’s should be honest and open about their WHO identity–the faith perspective they personally prioritize (whether shared proactively or in response to curiosity, it will help stakeholders appreciate the motivation behind the leader’s actions).  A leader’s commitment to the WHY of the organization should be loud and clear–communicated through words and actions.  It should be understood by the organization’s owners, employees, customers, vendors and community.  Transparency requires being honest and open about where the organization is aligned with its WHY and where it needs more work.  Transparency also requires ensuring that those stakeholders understand how the organization’s policies and practices related to areas such as hiring, termination, discipline, compensation, ethical behavior, training, vacation, family leave, customer service, vendors, and community service relate to its WHY.   A recent Gallup article by Craig Kamins observed:

Sharing what is happening is not enough; leaders need to explain why to foster an engaging work culture.  Employees are more likely to embrace change if they understand the motive — and can see how it furthers the organization’s mission and affects individual performance, too.

Leading an organization to faithfully “do right” through business a better way requires mind-shifts that lead to heart-shifts, both in the leaders and in the organization.  Anything less can bring the the missed purpose for organizations, the missed calling for leaders, the missed flourishing for people and the increased misery that was explained in post #036 (Placebos–The Problem).  We believe it is time to begin executing business a better way in alignment with Biblical beliefs, values and priorities–it is time to begin faithfully “doing right” through Integriosity®.

SPOILER ALERT:   Our next three posts will explore the remaining key ingredients to the RE-ALIGN step of Integriosity–Trust, Prayer and Patience.

PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): I was struck by the image that I used for this post–“Real is Rare”.  It is harsh but accurate.  Authenticity and Transparency are so important but they are increasingly hard to find.  In our social media world, “What You See” is rarely “What You Get“.  My son was recently hunting for an apartment in Manhattan.  Not surprisingly, none of them lived up to the photos on StreetEasy.  We polish our personal images and show the world what we believe it wants to see–what it tells us it wants to see–which itself perpetuates the myths and the masks.  To be honest, it actually is what the world wants to see.  When someone asks you “How’s it going?”, they expect (and want) to hear some version of “great”, “good”, “very busy” or “ok”.  They usually aren’t expecting (or wanting) an Authentic and Transparent rendition of your marriage/health/financial/career difficulties.  (Encouraging Authentic and Transparent friendships among men is at the core of the New Canaan Society mission–it is counter-cultural, which means it is difficult.)  As a result, we have become skeptics.

  • Why should an employee believe an abrupt change to business a better way by their employer?  Isn’t it more likely to be a public relations/investor relations/human resources gimmick to look virtuous, caring or woke to satisfy perceived desires of owners, employees or customers?
  • When the Business Roundtable did an about-face to downplay maximizing shareholder value and stress the importance of other stakeholders, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece titled “Is There Real Virtue Behind the Business Roundtable’s Signaling?” (sadly, the authors concluded that the signatories could be just trying to pre-empt regulatory scrutiny).

Faithfully “doing right” through business a better way is counter-cultural.  As Seth Godin observed, “It takes a very long time to earn trust when you’re running counter to culture.”

Copyright © 2021 Integrous LLC.  Integriosity is a registered Service Mark of Integrous LLC.

Photo Credit: Original photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash (photo cropped).