"The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office."
— Dwight D. Eisenhower
In a time when embezzlement scandals, stories of corruption and government bailouts frequent news publications, integrity is at the pinnacle of importance in the business world. Integrity is always an important matter, but when it seems that everyone is trying to cut corners, it is a distinctive characteristic that sets a business apart.
Integrity is vital to business growth. Companies that have integrity often stand out as exemplary within an industry, and therefore experience growth. Customers are attracted by integrity, and clients want to do business with a company that has the reputation for being honest in their practices.
It is important to put structures in place that promote a culture of integrity. For example, taking the time to train employees properly will help to limit company error. Companies should also make it a priority to deal with any mistakes that may occur. A company that is willing to own up to mistakes and remedy the situation shows honesty in practice
What does integrity look like?
Aside from a blatant disregard of business best practices causing an illegal scandal or ignoring the needs of your customers, there are many factors that can affect a company’s integrity. Is a team blinded by money or closing deals, or do they really care about the needs of customers? Are clients treated with respect? Does the company follow through on commitments?
Business integrity commonly stems from one’s personal view of integrity. Clients and customers want to know that they are doing business with a company that is trustworthy, and more than that, they want to interact with employees who are as well. If team members do not display integrity or trustworthiness in business practices, it can negatively affect the view of the entire company.
The opposite is true. A team that is committed to doing their jobs well and treats customers with respect will make an impact on clientele.
3 ways to build client trust
Those in management (owner, CEO, etc.) have the ability to establish the level of authenticity in a company. The way a company is run expresses the integrity of the leader. Good leaders know how to conduct themselves in a manner that is honest. They often put themselves in the customer’s shoes to better learn how to connect with their audience.
As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, trust is reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed. Trust takes time to build. The following are three important characteristics that stand out to clients, and employees, and will allow you to build trust.
Respect is at the heart of building long-term relationships with clients and employees, and it is one of the easiest and quickest ways to build trust. Everyone wants to be treated with respect, and most can recognize if someone is genuine or not. Being considerate to everyone, regardless of race, age, cultural difference or business experience, will show clients that your business can be trusted. Extend the same respect for clients to all employees. Employees are the face of the company and just one bad attitude has the potential to ruin a client relationship or the company’s reputation. It is not enough to have a statement about respect in an employee manual. Respect must be pervasive throughout the company, from the top down. Leading by example will not only speak volumes, but also will permeate the company culture and increase business.
Leaders who want to build successful companies must walk the line between confidence and humility with an appropriate level of self-awareness. Self-aware leaders instill confidence in the company or products and know how to impact the marketplace. Humility allows them to listen to customer feedback, be aware of company culture and adapt to industry changes.
Humility is an important characteristic to embody for building trust. Asking customers and employees for feedback on products and services helps to define the company’s strengths and weaknesses. Growth can occur when leaders have the humility to address weaknesses.
3. Attention to Detail
A company’s core strength is in its details, so it behooves leaders to pay close attention to the details. Here are a few practical ways to stay on top of the details:
Evaluate the company website, marketing materials and advertisements
Make sure all materials support the company’s mission statement. All materials should contain consistent messaging and proper grammar. Regularly checking the website and business materials will make sure they remain clear and professional and do not misrepresent the company.
Commit to community
Be a responsible business that is invested in the community. Stay current with community-related activities and issues. Customers are more likely to do business with a local company that is committed to the community.
Care for employees
Overworked and underappreciated team members won’t represent the company well. Happy employees are better equipped to serve customers, so make sure the work environment meets the needs of employees.
Deliver on customer commitments
Every time. Make it a company goal to consistently deliver a quality product or service. If there is a mistake, own up to it and fix the problem. Build trust and gain integrity by being honest and following through on commitments.
Time to implement change
Integrity is one of the qualities customers search for most. While every company should recognize this, it is imperative that companies implement changes to achieve company-wide integrity. Ubiquitous integrity will change a company’s culture, satisfy customers, associate and partners, and ultimately result in a profitable, successful business.