Integrity is one of the most crucial leadership traits today, more crucial to your success than just about anything else. Everything else hinges on this one trait.  Your integrity and your ability to inspire trust!

We think of being “authentic” as being credible, reliable, real, or genuine. Congruency in behaviors even when no one else is watching! It’s bigger than that.

Your many “voices” speak to your authenticity, your credibility, your integrity! Yes! Words you “speak” is part of your authenticity voice. But, so is everything else in your life, because everything you do makes an impression in the world and speaks to who you really are. The main question is, “are all your voices telling the same story?”

Your Character Voices…

Your character voices are your spoken words, emails, text messages, social media posts, instant messages, all your interactions and transactions, and how you treat people.

Trust! Or, rather the “Trust Factor” as I call it, is crucial to success today. Why? Because people, especially the younger generations, do not trust organizations of any kind, or people, unless a relationship exists!

“People” are also your customers. With this, everything you and your employees do, impacts whether your customers or targeted customers “believe” who you say you are.

This breakdown in trust began when the leaders of such companies as WorldCom, Enron, and others cooked their books causing thousands of people to lose investments, pensions, and trust in organized entities, and sending leaders to prison. The unethical behavior of a few has impacted the world and generations of people’s ability to trust. There are other factors, but this was the beginning.

As a leader, congruency in behaviors across all your voices is crucial. This includes how you treat others, in every area of your life.

Leadership, Success, and Your Integrity is About Relationships!

Your success depends on your ability to develop relationships in all areas of your life, including with your customers. Remember, younger generations do not trust organizations of any kind, and they do not trust people—UNLESS A RELATIONSHIP EXISTS. Trust must be earned; it is not a given.   “I will buy from you if I trust you, your brand, and your products and services.”

Most often young people make decisions on referrals from friends versus advertising spins. You may attract them with advertising messaging, but to keep them, you have to earn their trust. But, most often they will seek council from a trusted colleague or friend before they buy. And, most often this information is shared via social media, impacting buying decisions of many.

How You Treat Your People Directly impacts how they treat your customers. It impacts sales, retention, your brand integrity, and everything else. How you treat your people impacts employee engagement in a world where engagement is critical to success.

Are Your Voices Respectful to Others?

Treat everyone respectfully, consistently! Do you have a tendency to denigrate some because they are “different than self” or you resent their intelligence or some other quality?   Do you look down on some because of their socio-economic status, or ethnic background or position in life, or anything else?

One of the greatest needs of people is to be respected and valued for their uniqueness; for the individuals they are. With this thought, you can inspire people to an incredible level of engagement by merely treating them with respect by getting to know them as individuals and leveraging their uniqueness. This also nurtures trust!

From a business standpoint, why would you hire the most talented people then try to change or mold them to a preconceived idea of what ALL your people should look like. Leverage your people’s individual talents, knowledge, and skills.

Are Your “Voices” Inclusive and Collaborative?

Do you include others or do you have a tendency to exclude some because you “just don’t like them” or “they are smarter than me” or for any other reason?

Do you like to hang onto power and control? Do you try to do everything yourself thinking, “I know how to do this and can do it faster than I can tell others how to do it?” You hired employees to do this job. How do you think this makes your people feel? How would it make you feel?

People become angry and they pass that anger on to your customers, fellow employees, and family members. Everything suffers.

Be known as the individual who values others, collaborates to arrive at results, and helps people grow.

All People Want to Know They Matter!

All people want to know they are important to whatever group they are part of: family, workplace, community, church, etc.   Excluding people makes people feel small and unimportant. It also impacts self-esteem and employee engagement.   Let the people in your life know you value them, and how what they do helps the group succeed. When people feel appreciated, they are more responsive, and work harder.

Are Your Voices Kind and Caring?

Or, are your voices rude and disrespectful of others? Do you speak the truth? Do your voices spread rumors or speak falsehoods about others, or rejoice in sharing stories of others’ failures?  This is actually considered bullying.

By treating others respectfully, with a mindset of helping others succeed, you elevate everything, including yourself.

A simple definition of a leader used to be, “Getting people to follow!” Leadership is not about simply getting people to follow. “Leadership is about giving others a voice so they can think for themselves.” Maximizing people potential!   Helping others succeed! Empowering people!   Leadership is about helping others find their voice, and the courage to use it.

Are Your Voices Congruent From One Communications Venue to Another?

In all your communications venues, make sure your voices speak to who you are, including email, social media, texting, etc. Make sure all your voices are kind, respectful, inclusive, and encouraging. What does the “tone” of your communications say? Yes! Digital communications does have a tone.

What do you post on social media?   Everything you post makes an impression, much like footprints in the sand as you walk along the beach. The difference is that the tide washes away the footprints and all evidence you were there.   However, social media posts can go public, become viral, and reach millions. It develops a life of its own. Make sure your social media posts speaks to who you really are. Think before you press send. Ask yourself how you would feel if someone else posted it.


When you are not responsive to an email, text or other digital communications, it is like you are sitting in front of me asking me a question and I simply ignore you. RESPOND! How do you feel when someone ignores you?   Lack of response does nothing to nurture trust. It erodes trust, your credibility, and makes people angry.   If a customer or potential customer—they simply move on to your competitor.

Trust First, To be Trusted…

You cannot inspire people to a high level of engagement without first developing trust, but you have to “earn” trust. You must first trust!

Trust first, you may ask? “How in the world can I ‘trust first? They have to ‘prove’ themselves, before I can trust them.” No! Your employees do not have to prove themselves first, before you can trust them.   Trust your people to do the jobs they were hired to do, then they will trust you as their leader. They will also perform at a higher level and be much more engaged.

THEN coach and mentor to close gaps in skills and processes!

Trust is empowering, energizing, and nurtures trust and relationships. Trust is one of the most powerful forms of motivation!

All people want to be trusted. People respond to trust. People thrive on trust. Trusting others and being able to trust speaks to YOUR character, your integrity. Let go of the need to control others. Trust and empower people.

Treat People Respectfully, Consistently!

There is NO EXCUSE to treat people disrespectfully! Consistently demonstrate respect to others, in all situations and regardless of who is present.   Remember! Do your voices tell the same story regardless of who is present? Regardless where you are!

For example: Don’t be a seagull leader? A “seagull leader” is someone who flies into the workplace, church council, community board meeting, family environment, or anywhere else, and craps on people, then flies away leaving behind a broken mess of humanity.   The people you just crapped on are human beings with souls, and hopes, dreams and desires. Actually, a “seagull leader” is not a leader at all. This individual is a bully!

Always, always treat people with respect and dignity. Give everyone a voice and listen to understand.

Even when holding people accountable, you can still treat them with respect.   Once while conducting a workshop of law enforcement leaders, one officer said, “If your words and actions do not elevate others to a higher level, your words and actions speak to hate.” This from an individual who every day has the responsibility of holding people accountable for obeying the law!

Are Your Voices Transparent?

Are all your voices transparent? Or, do you have hidden, self-serving agendas?   Transparency is critical to nurturing trust and developing relationships.

Apply the “Intent Test!” Ask yourself, “What is my intent?” Is my intent self-serving in nature? Is my intent about self, or about serving others?   Is my intent about self-preservation and glorifying self—personal gain?   Is my intent pure in spirit? Or, is my intent about the truth and what is in the best interest of all—others? Make sure your intent is about others, not self-gain.

We should “love people” and “use things.” Sadly in today’s world, we have a tendency to “use people” and “love things.” Let’s turn that around in all relationships.

Follow Through on Commitments!

Always do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. If you are unable to meet a commitment, renegotiate.   We are all busy, and we ALL forget things. When this happens, contact the person, apologize explaining why, and ask how you can make things right.

In a world where trust must come first, make sure you follow through on your commitments.

Be Honest and Truthful!

In all your voices, all areas of your life, all your transactions, and all your decisions, be honest and truthful. Make no exceptions.

Give Grace!

Give grace freely, just as you would want others to give you grace. We all make mistakes, including you. Learn the facts and reasons why, and help people work through problem areas. Help people walk through darkness and find their way back. Make your focus in all areas of your life to help others succeed.

Decide Who You Are…

Decide who you want to be, then make sure all your voices tell the same story. Congruency! Walk congruently through every area of your life.

Then you will be a leader. You will be someone who can inspire others to trust, loyalty, and engagement.   You will be an individual who can make a difference in all areas of your life.

© Copyright by Patricia Hatley!   All rights reserved!