Becoming an exceptional leader is as much about being honest with yourself as it is about being honest with others. If your decisions and actions are not in alignment with your values and what you truly believe to be important, people will perceive that disconnect and they will have trouble trusting you. In order to demonstrate respect for others you must hold as a value the importance of treating people with respect or it just won’t work.
Your character is at the heart of who you are as a leader and as an individual. It demonstrates to the outside world your moral and ethical compass. Unlike other qualities you possess, character is not something you are born with. No matter your background or family circumstances, you can make a conscious decision to choose the type of person you want to become at any time.
A commitment to honesty is a big part of developing good character. When you value and practice honesty by providing individuals with accurate and timely feedback on their work performance, it helps you to build a foundation of trust with your employees and gives you something to draw from when you need to address a performance situation down the road. If you don’t truly value honesty, you will bail at the first hint of discomfort and do anything to avoid having the tough conversation.
The last thing most managers want to do is fire someone and take it from me; you never want to be in the position of ending someone’s employment when they aren’t fully aware that their job was even in jeopardy because you weren’t totally honest with them. I could not have continued to do this type of work for over twenty years without making a commitment to myself that I would do all that I could to help people understand the reality of their situations before it was too late.
Accept that it is your responsibility to treat people with dignity and respect and your actions will build your credibility as a leader and promote trust between you and your team. When you walk your talk, people trust that you mean what you say and they will see you as a person of integrity. If your words and actions are not in alignment, you will be perceived as untrustworthy and as having a hidden agenda. People won’t know which to believe; your walk or your talk.
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