Doing the right thing is sometimes inconvenient and oftentimes it goes unrecognized and unrewarded. Not exactly a great incentive; but as the saying goes, doing the right thing does have its own rewards.
In one of my leadership assignments, my peer directors and I decided to be consistent in how we threw year-end holiday parties. As a team that valued unity across organizational boundaries, we wanted to avoid situations in which one group held its holiday event in the evening at a five-star hotel while another group held its holiday event during lunch in the office conference room.
We agreed on a general standard . . . but then a couple of the directors planned holiday events that failed to live by that standard. Of course, they had good reasons for doing so but it was clearly different than what the rest of us were doing.
Naturally, the managers in my organization, who also wanted to reward the good work of their teams, “encouraged” me to ignore the agreement as well. But I took the position that having committed to the standard we would abide by it.
In my view, this was not a situation in which an agreement was no longer in place (in fact, my other peers were abiding by it). Rather, an agreement was still in place; even if a couple of people were not abiding by it.
This was a distinction without a difference for my managers who continued to voice their opinion about the outliers as well as their own lack of enthusiastic support for my position.
I probably didn’t win many popularity contests that December but there were times when the managers in my organization did benefit from my (and their own) sense of integrity, which ultimately led to a compliment I will always treasure.
After I had announced I was leaving the company one of my colleagues shared a conversation she had had with one of her peers. The peer said “I’m just afraid that when Greg leaves he is taking all of the company’s spirituality and integrity with him.” Wow! What a humbling thing to hear.
And how rewarding. So, yes, my fellow leaders, it is true: integrity is its own reward.
Has integrity ever been its own reward in your leadership journey? I’d love to hear from you. Please send me a note via the contact form. As a thank you, I will send you an excerpt from my book, Transforming: The Power of Leading from Identity.