6 Steps to Close Your Integrity Gap

I know, you don’t have an integrity problem. But if integrity is defined as the integration of what you say and do, we’ll find some gaps. And the more gaps, the more difficult it is to lead with influence.

Integrity gaps are easy to see in other people and difficult to see in the mirror. So here are six questions that will help you see where you have integrity gaps so you can get to closing them quickly.

1. Where are you spending your time – really?

I don’t just mean what’s on your calendar… I mean how did you really spend your time? On Monday morning, your weekly calendar looks amazing — like Tetris blocks neatly filling together in a productivity masterpiece. But that’s never how it goes. Things come up, plans change, you skip things you meant to do, and you end up spending your time differently than you wanted to. How did you really spend it? Get clear on that, and you’ll illuminate where you actually place importance and value, regardless of your rhetoric.

2. Where are you spending your money?

Easy one. Follow the dollars and you follow the heart. Same is true of organizations: see how a company invests its capital, and you’ll see what its true core values are all about. Where you spend money is one of the clearest ways to determine where you actually place value.

3. What questions do you frequently ask?

Questions are the most powerful shaper of human behavior… much more powerful than telling people what you think. That’s because questions have a way of illuminating for other people what’s most important to you. As a manager, if I spend my staff meetings talking about the importance of teamwork, but the only questions I ever ask are about individual contribution, then what they know about me is that I value individual contribution more than I value teamwork — regardless of what I said in the staff meeting.

4. What do you reward?

Self explanatory. The behaviors you reward, either consciously or unconsciously, illuminate what’s most important to you over time.

5. What do you celebrate? 

Same thing.

6. What keeps you awake at night?

Or — have you ever been driving home after work, and after 15 minutes or so, come to a realization while driving that you’re actually driving? You don’t remember having driven the last several miles? Here’s the question: What was so capturing your thoughts and daydreams that you don’t even recall the act of driving?

You get clear on these things, you’ll get clear on where you’re actually placing importance and value, regardless of what you say on Facebook or in meetings.

The bigger the gap — the integrity gap — the more difficult it is to influence and lead.

Here’s how you handle it:

Rather than try to fix everything at once, pick the most egregious offender… the action furthest apart from what you say is important to you, and figure out what you will start doing today, and what you will stop doing today, to close the gap. Pick only one, and stick with it until you’ve closed the gap. Then go to the next one.

Over time, you may find that you’ll either start acting more like your words, or you’ll simply stop using those words. Either way, you’ll be someone people are more likely to follow.

Chuck Allen is a VP at Realm responsible for employee engagement and change communications. His extensive background in executive coaching and leadership has lead him to conclusions about life and work. “I work with leaders who want to leave less life on the table and build whole lives worth emulating.”

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