Honesty Adds to the Bottom Line

in: The Hindu

Business Line

Honesty can add to the bottom line

You know WYSIWYG as ‘what you see is what you get’. What is DWYSYWD? “Do what you say you will do,” explains Jim Kouzes in the foreword to a forthcoming book by Tony Simons: The Integrity Dividend: Leading by the Power of Your Word ( www.josseybass.com). This is the most important leadership lesson you’ll ever learn, stresses Kouzes.

Integrity’ may appear to be an old-fashioned word; yet, in 2005, it was the single most looked-up word on the online Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, informs Simons. “Which implies that people are not sure what integrity means,” he reasons.

So, what is integrity? “The fit between words and actions, as seen by others,” the author defines. “It means promise-keeping and showing the values you profess.” Behavioural integrity, he explains, is not so much about the content of a person’s values as it is about “how well a person follows through on the values he or she espouses.”

Lest you wonder if honesty pays, Simons assures that it, in fact, does. There is a dollar value to your impeccable word, or integrity dividend, he concludes, based on an elaborate survey of employee perceptions in the hotel industry vis-a-vis the bottom line impact of word-action alignment.

“Many of the hotels with high management integrity converted over 10 cents more of each revenue dollar into profits than others,” he finds. “Where employees reported high integrity on the part of their managers, we saw: deeper employee commitment, leading to lower employee turnover, and superior customer service; all leading to higher profitability.”

To those who want to try out the integrity path and reap the integrity dividend, a simple instruction is to promise less, but doing it more often, as advised in a whole chapter. Choose just a few values to talk about day in and day out, the author guides.

Okay, but how many is ‘a few’? Three is simple and tight. Six is less so. As you go beyond 10, you enter a murky terrain where different followers will choose to highlight different items — and the list starts to exist more on paper than in anyone’s mind and heart.”
When companies or leaders espouse too many values, the list of desired values becomes a dead document, bemoans Simons.

Practising behavioural integrity, however, can be tough, he concedes. “One challenge is the inevitable unpredictability of the business environment. Another may be problematic aspects of your company’s culture or structure, such as misaligned incentives or patterns of poor communication.”

A more important challenge, according to the author, can be lying within: “A relative lack of awareness about inconsistencies in your own motivations and actions or a lack of practices to keep your words and deeds aligned.”

A read of critical import you can’t escape from when it hits the shelves later this year.

D. Murali

Original Source: The Hindu Business Line

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