Warren Buffett is credited as saying that “in looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”
Recently while working with a client to further develop their leadership development process, we surveyed several top leaders from a wide range of industries including Fortune 100 companies, non-profits and government entities. When we asked them what leadership qualities they looked for when recruiting and selecting future leaders, the resounding consensus echoed the sentiments of Warren Buffett’s quote.
Integrity matters more than we often think, especially at the current speed of business that requires our leaders to have high levels of competency and intelligence, as well as skills with both technology and people, often simultaneously. The value of integrity can often get lost in the shuffle of adding a new employee with the right credentials or a great sales record. However, the impact of inadequacies in those areas pales in comparison to the damage that is done to an organization when a leader crashes due to a lack of integrity.
It has been said that integrity is defined as doing the right thing even when no one is watching.
What could be more valuable to a team or organization than that?
How might your team benefit from a more intentional focus being placed on integrity?
Or perhaps…what can you do to model the value of integrity for your team?
As a final thought, it seems that the majority of the time that we hear about the impact of integrity is it the result of someone lacking it. These failures tend to dominate the narrative in the media as well as our minds as we hyper-focus on those who acted without integrity. For just a moment, allow yourself to imagine what your team would look like if instead of being worried about failing because of an integrity deficiency, the culture of your organization was anticipatory and hopeful about being caught HAVING integrity.
What might you do as a leader that could shift the thinking of those you lead to begin valuing integrity on the same level as competence, intelligence and execution?
Over my nearly 3 decades of leadership coaching I have had the privilege of coaching and interacting with many incredible leaders. From CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to leaders of massive non-profits making a huge difference, I’ve seen some amazing top-level leaders!
As I think back on the hundreds of hours I have spent working with CEOs, I have seen a pattern that I thought would be valuable to put down on paper and share with you. This pattern seems to present itself regardless of the size of the organization that is being led, and I see it consistently enough that my curiosity has propelled me to identify what I’ve observed.
"THE LEADER'S ABILITY TO RECEIVE DIRECTION IS OFTEN IN THE INVERSE PROPORTION TO HIS/HER ABILITY TO GIVE DIRECTION."
Now, this may not be a mind-blowing statement to you, especially if you spend much time interacting with people at the helm of your organization, but I have noticed that when I have the chance to speak with and coach CEOs, they are often the most reluctant to receive feedback, truly hear correction and accept the suggestions of others.
On the other hand, those at the top of the organization are some of the quickest to take action and set agendas for achieving goals. A quick survey of the DiSC assessment sheds some light on the typical mindset of the CEO: the “D” personality is decisive, dominant and they prefer to direct their environment. So, it is not surprising that quick-thinking, quick-acting CEOs might be hesitant to receiving instruction or direction from others, especially those who may be outside of their organization or area of expertise.
For me, this is where the “secret sauce” of the Master Coach Model really finds its home. The beauty and power of our model is that by pulling, and not pushing, the coach begins with the coachee, in this case the CEO, in the seat of the expert. They are not only closer to any specific problem that needs solving, but they are also the most likely to discover new solutions in the coaching process. When the coach has this mindset, most CEOs will feel empowered, not threatened, and can be freed up to dream and think and create the next great solution as they settle into their preferred mode of setting directions and determining outcomes.
While the title of this article is “The CEO Dilemma”, and in many cases it can describe a problematic obstacle for CEOs as they attempt to grow and develop, when I coach CEOs my goal is to leverage this mentality instead. By crafting the best questions that I can, I get to see these direction-setters move from “reluctant to receive coaching” to actually coaching themselves! In this way, I continue to be convinced that our Master Coach Model, as simple and streamlined as it is, is truly powerful in the way it frames dilemmas and problems as opportunities and chances for new solutions, even from CEOs who are hesitant to take direction.
Have you experienced this in your organization?
What have you done that works well?
What have you not tried yet that you think is worth giving a chance in the future?