You are most effective when you act out of essential human values. When you behave with integrity, you use the challenges in your life to express your higher self. You might not always achieve success, but you can always behave honourably……
Essential integrity allow you to develop strength, inner peace, and self confidence. It acts like a climbing harness, catching you when the challenges of the world prove too arduous. When you trust this harness, you feel more enthusiasm and less fear during the climb.
Essential integrity provides the secret to achieving happiness in a world where you will inevitably end up losing all your possessions – even your life and the lives of those you love.
- Fred Kofman, Conscious Business
I say that essential integrity is also the access to living the brand promise, treating employees and customer right, and cultivating enduring-meaningful relationships with all stakeholders including customers. Think Amazon. What does Amazon do amazingly well? Live the Amazon mission (of being the Earth’s most customer-centric company) by keeping its promises to its customers.
I thank you for listening to my speaking. I am grateful that you exist and that in your listening my speaking finds fertile soil. I thank you for reaching out to me and letting me know that my speaking, my existence makes a difference to your existence. What is present between me and you is love.
“We argue here that the four factors we identify as constituting the foundation for being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership can also be seen as the foundations not only for great leadership, but also for a high quality personal life and an extraordinary organization. One can see this as a “value free” approach to values because:
1) integrity as we define it (being whole and complete) is a purely positive proposition;
2) authenticity is also a purely positive proposition (being and acting consistent with who you hold yourself out to be for others and who you hold yourself to be for yourself),;
3) being committed to something bigger than oneself is also a purely positive proposition (that says nothing about what that commitment should be other than it be bigger than oneself); and
4) being cause in the matter as a declaration of the stand you take for yourself regarding everything in your life is also a purely positive proposition”
In light of my experience and the continuing scandals – NSA/Prism and Lloyds PPI complaint handling – I have been reflecting-grappling with the leadership, accountability, and integrity. As such I wish to share with you my take on the seven key differences between effective and ineffective leaders.
1. Effective leaders are clear on what matters, communicate what matters, and model the desired values and behaviours. Ineffective leaders are either not clear on what matters or simply not able to able-willing to rule some stuff out. Ineffective leaders suck at communicating what matters. And they don’t live-model-embody the fine sounding values, beliefs, and behaviours that they talk about.
2. Effective leaders name and insist on dealing with the most important issues no matter how unpleasant these issues are. Ineffective leaders find all kinds of reasons and excuses for not dealing with the real issues and instead spend their time on what they are comfortable with.
3. Effective leaders focus on getting a rounded-realistic-fact based picture of reality. And as such they give real thought to who needs to take part in the conversation, and how to create a context that calls forth the ‘truth of each participant’. Please note that feelings are facts! Ineffective leaders are drunk on their own importance and thus push their views, their agenda, on to the favoured few that they invite to the conversation.
4. Effective leaders deal with the thorny issues in a way that tends to build the self-esteem, confidence, learning, and goodwill of their people. Ineffective leaders issue orders, discount the concerns-views of their people, and make threats thus rupture one of the most critical pillars of an effective organisation: relationship and emotional affinity and loyalty.
5. Effective leaders think about the well-being of the wider system – all stakeholders inside and outside the business. Ineffective leaders focus on what matters to them and their favoured constituency.
6. Effective leaders first hold themselves accountable. And by doing so they create the powerful access to holding their people accountable. Ineffective leaders hold others to account but not themselves. And sometimes they don’t even hold others accountable for fear of being confronted with their own lack of accountability.
7. Effective leaders get the critical importance of integrity. As such they put in place powerful ‘instruments’ that will: detect any ‘out of integrity’ ways of showing up in the world; and call the effective leader to get back into integrity quickly and clean up any mess s/he has made. Ineffective leaders don’t get that integrity is essential to ‘workability’ and ‘performance’ and as such there is little fit between what they say and what they do. For ineffective leaders, integrity is optional.
How does this resonate with your experience? Please note the word ‘experience’ and specifically the phrase ‘your experience’.
Where does reasonableness tend to lead to?
I say that the issue with most organisations is that they are reasonable. These organisations and the people in them – from the ivory tower to the coal face – are, on the whole, being reasonable. Reasonable executives focus exclusively on optimising for the short-term. Why? Because it is reasonable – that is what the stock market analysts expect. Reasonable managers treat their employees reasonably. Reasonable employees put reasonable effort into their work. Reasonable people make reasonable products. Reasonable people provide reasonable service. Reasonable people build reasonable websites. Reasonable people stick to what is known. Reasonable people aspire to go after best practice. Reasonable people don’t do innovation – it is too risky. Reasonable people stick with the herd and don’t stick their necks out. What do you get when you have an organisation which is run and staffed by reasonable people being reasonable? Average, at best. Mediocrity is not uncommon.
Can you take the road of reasonableness to arrive at customer-centricity?
Now let’s turn to the subject of customer-centricity and the customer experience. You get that your organisation is not customer-centric and you want to make it customer-centric. You get that your products are not good enough and you want to come up with better products. You get that your service is not good enough and you want to improve your service. Or you get your entire end to end customer experience is not good enough and you are up for coming up with a good/great customer experience. So my question is this: will you reach your goal simply by being reasonable?
When I look at what is so on the ground, the answer to my question is YES. Being reasonableness must be the way to be. Why do I say that? Because what I see is reasonableness in many forms. Reasonable people taking the reasonable course of action using reasonable tools and aiming for reasonable goals. In short, when I strip away the bold talk of customer-centricity or even customer obsession I see simply the aspiration to be somewhat better than we are today – to suck less.
Be unreasonable if you want to excel at and win the game of customer-centricity?
I say that if you want to excel at the game of customer-centricity, the game of customer experience, then you have to be unreasonable. You have to be unreasonable in your commitment to creating value for your customer. An unreasonable commitment to understanding your customers and what matters to them. An unreasonable commitment to coming up with value propositions (product, offer, promise) that meet customer needs. An unreasonable commitment to speaking with your customers so that they get your value proposition. An unreasonble commitment to designing/delivering a customer experience (end to end) that delivers the promises made in the value proposition and communications. And that means an unreasonable commitment to creating a context where the people in your organisation are called to be unreasonable in the their commitment to creating value for their customers.
When I speak ‘unreasonable’ what am I calling attention to? What am I pointing at? I am pointing at a kind of stand that you take. A way that you show up in the world. It is best exemplified as the difference between 99% and 100% is everything! Allow me to make this clearer by sharing the word of Mark Spiritos, a Landmark Forum Leader:
“If in the making of a computer chip or a bicycle wheel some small part were left out, neither would be able to function as intended. Any disruption in the integrity of something’s design, however small, impacts its workability and function. When something is whole and complete, it is not good per se, it just works.
The same holds true in being human. When the wholeness and completeness of who we are is jeopardized in some way, however small, that begins to alter our life, even if at first it’s imperceptible. We might experience a sense of discomfort; spend time defending, explaining, or pointing fingers; find ourselves tolerating a level of unworkability that we might not normally put up with. And because this happens in small increments, we don’t fully get the kind of impact it has on things not working in our lives…..
A baseline that was once at 100% now is at 99 or 98 or 70%. But it’s that difference between 99 and 100% that’s everything—it’s in that 1% that the quality of our life gets altered. Our sense of ourselves becomes more and more obscured, making it harder and harder over time to return to who we are. In being true to ourselves, being authentic, we tip the scales. Integrity and living a life of power and effectiveness are inseparable.”
It occurs to me that the difference between 100% and 99% is a difference that makes a huge difference. You either are 100% committed to providing great products or you are not. You either are 100% committed to making it easy for customers to do business with you or not. You either are 100% committed to providing great customer service or not. You either are 100% committed to designing/delivering a great end to end customer experience or you are not. You are 100% commitment to ongoingly create value for customers – simplifying, enriching, transforming their lives – or you are not. If you do not recognise the difference between 99% and 100% then you are fooling yourself. You are vulnerable to someone, some organisation, that does recognise the difference and is 100% committed.