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The Role of Executive Leadership in Organizational Transformation: Demonstrating Integrity
Aug 10, 2020 - Joe White, Director, AEU LEAD

In a recent PwC pulse survey, 63% of organizations indicated changes were needed to existing products and services to meet revenue objectives moving forward. Among AEU LEAD workshop participants over the past two months, 100% have indicated changes are likely over the next two years in response to current market conditions. While change is inevitable, success is anything but.

In this blog, the second of a three-part series on executive leadership’s role in creating and sustaining operational transitions, we're going to focus on effective leader character traits – specifically, the role and importance of integrity.

Leading by Example

John Maxwell once said, “People don’t follow worthy causes; they follow worthy leaders with a cause they can believe in.” Leadership at the top requires insight, perspective, and competence. Those attributes, however, hinge on the qualities of the personalities involved. Without a solid foundation of individual integrity, executives will never realize the full potential of influence. Organizations will struggle to make needed transitions in what promises to be an increasingly competitive and less forgiving marketplace.

Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It's consistently demonstrating exemplary actions, showing humility, and routinely seeing the best in others – behaviors that often require deliberate and conscious effort. Simply put, it’s leading by example and walking the talk, every day.

Gaining Trust

The importance of executive leadership having integrity can’t be overstated. Companies with high trust levels outperform those that don’t by 186%. (Watson Wyatt, Work USA). While listed as an organizational attribute, trust is a measure of what others see in you based on demonstrated actions, not words. It’s not what you say, but what you do that matters most.

In a study by Trust Edge Leadership Institute, having trusted leadership was the most important quality job applicants looked for when considering employment opportunities with an organization. A lack of trust in organizational leadership makes recruitment and retention of desired employees challenging, at best. It also makes the pathway for needed changes – a daunting task in and of itself – even more difficult.

Getting Results

Demonstrating integrity through decisions and actions is key to getting results through others. A lack of trust results in skepticism, dissension, and discord. Now, perhaps more than ever before, executives must prioritize people over profit. Challenges, barriers, and operational obstacles must be made transparent, and stakeholders must be provided with an opportunity for involvement and input. Decision-makers must consistently do the right thing, remain steadfast and unwavering on communicated priorities, and stay the course on commitments. 

By all indications, the 21st-century marketplace will continue to be ultracompetitive, regardless of industry or business sector. Change and the management of change will no longer be the next reality, but an ongoing operational norm. Navigating the obstacles and making needed transitions requires direction and leadership from trusted decision-makers. Demonstrating integrity in all that you do is a prerequisite to success as a leader and a requisite for buy-in and support from critical stakeholders. 

The opinions and comments expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of ALMA, The American Equity Underwriters, Inc., AEU LEAD or Amwins. None of the aforementioned parties or the authors are responsible for any inaccuracy of content or for any loss or damages incurred by any party as a result of reliance on information contained in this article. Content may not be published or reproduced without the written consent of the authors. Prior articles may not be updated for accuracy as pertinent information changes over time. The AEU LEAD blog is intended to provide general information and should not be construed as legal advice.
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