Integrity With a Dose of Confidence Part2
My last blog was about how to act as a person with integrity, how to make sure you are thinking in terms of doing the right things for the right reasons no matter hard difficult that may be to do. Sometimes the easiest route is not the right route. As you continue to become a person of integrity, there is another aspect to this which may stand in your way and that is the people or social aspect. If you like drama and gossip (which many people do), you are going to have a lot of work ahead of you to get to a solid level of integrity. If the advice you give others is based on drama, gossip, and is given to elicit an emotional response, but not given in a way that the person can act on it or solve the problem, you definitely need to work on your integrity because now your lack of integrity is affecting someone else. One of the best ways to improve your integrity is to stop the gossip! If you like drama and are drawn to situations involving heightened emotions and lots of talk about others when they aren't present, then you have a long way to go to be a person of integrity.
But let's say you aren't the gossiping type. That's great, but how about the people around you who you work with, who lead you, or more importantly, who lead you? What if you are being mentored by someone who doesn't have integrity? Be careful because although you may not be the person giving “advice” that is more emotional than factual, you may be the person receiving this advice from someone else. Watch out for it because it may cause you to react to a situation in a less honest way than you would have without that advice. Not all advice you receive is good advice. That's really important so let me stress that point by repeating, not all advice you receive is good advice. Evaluate the advice on how much integrity is in it and then decide if you want to act on that advice. Even from your most trusted mentors, they may unintentionally give you emotionally-charged advice depending on what is going on in their job, team, or just because they are having a bad day. Add a bit of confidence that you get to pick and choose what advice to follow when it comes in this form and you won't head down the wrong path. For example, getting advice like "I think you are struggling in your team", "people in this team don't like you", or “watch out because there are a lot of politics in your team” is not good advice. These statements make the recipient feel concerned, distrustful of their peers, and potentially they will withdraw in order to avoid the politics or the people who don't like them. But if the advice was "let's talk about how to make sure you succeed in this team", "let's find the best ways for you to build solid relationships with team members", or “let me explain to you ways to deal with some of the politics within the team”, you will learn ways to approach any complicated situation you encounter which is much more helpful to you and your career.
So I used that word "politics". What is politics? It’s people unknowingly having less integrity than they should. They are talking about others and doing things the easiest way possible by getting the help of people they know and not people by people who are the best qualified. You’ve heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, yep that’s all about the politics. If you have absolute integrity while surrounded by politics, you will still succeed because nobody can argue against someone doing the right things for the right reasons.
Those examples I specifically mentioned earlier elicit a negative emotion, but can't the same be true for positive emotions? What if the advice you get is really positive although it shouldn't be. If your manager is taking the easy road and not giving you the difficult feedback you truly need to hear in order to improve your skills, then your manager is lacking integrity by not doing the right thing, and you may feel really good hearing the nice feedback, but it's not helpful to you. Ok, did I just turn your world upside down? Are you now totally confused about who you should listen to or not? Don't worry. Only in extreme cases should you question positive feedback. And if you watch closely the person that gave you that feedback, you'll be able to tell over time whether they have high integrity or not just by how they make decisions or react to challenging situations. I'll give you an example from my experience. I was new to a team a few years ago and as soon as I joined I was drafted into leading an initiative that I didn't know much about. Before I even really got started doing anything for it, I received an award for the great work in this area. Granted, others in this initiative also received the award, but I honestly shouldn't have. I didn't do anything to deserve it. Now I was confident that I would do things to earn that award in the future, but what that experience allowed me to do is watch more closely the people in my management chain that decided to give it to me. From that, I understood that some of them may not have the best intentions for me and that their integrity may be lacking. Eventually, companies with integrity self-correct and most of those people in that management chain are gone. So it was helpful for me to use my knowledge of integrity to read people correctly and act accordingly.
Working with people can be difficult and can cause complex situations. Your best approach is to find those things you value the most and stick to them. I personally value integrity. Most everything I do both inside and outside of work goes through my integrity filter. It helps me sleep well at night. I learn from my mistakes and continue to work on my integrity every day. It never stops. I hope this information allows you to do the same.