Friday, May 3, 2019

Lean Quote: Leadership Starts with Integrity

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"People will not be set in motion until they are convinced on an emotional level based on trust..." — Shigeo Shingo, The Sayings of Shigeo Shingo , p. 129

Most leaders think their followers put vision or communication or problem solving skills first. Of course, all of those attributes are important, but what difference do they make if you are not trusted? Does it matter what vision you provide if there is little trust that it’s best for all? Does it matter how well you communicate if what is said can’t be trusted? Does it matter how charismatic you are if only a handful are willing to follow you?

Integrity gets lost…one degree of dishonesty at a time. There are no varying degrees of integrity. A leader is judged to have integrity or not based on what is seen. Minor lies can become a major problem. As minor as lies may seem, employees do not forget integrity mistakes.

There are 4 key ways a leader can earn employees trust:

1. Keep your promises. You don’t have to promise things just to make employees feel good. They are more interested in being able to depend on what you promise than in feeling good. Just keep the promises you do make and trust will follow.

2. Speak out for what you think is important. Employees can’t read your mind. If employees have to guess how you feel about something, they may guess wrong. Tell them how you feel and why. This builds respect.

3. Error on the side of fairness. Be fair to all.  Things are not always clearly right or wrong. Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions that affect many people. Sometimes those decisions include having to de-hire some employees. Be fair at all times – regardless of the type or decisions you have to make.

4. Do what you say you are going to do. Just let you “yes” be yes or your “no” mean no. When you say you’re going to do something, your employees should be able to “consider it done.”


It all starts with integrity. Your employees will follow only if you have earned their trust!

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