• Keith Wells

Of course I love you

For some people, integrity is important. They'd die in a ditch of shame, if they were ever found to have acted out of purely selfish motives. Even to be accused of it would be a resignation issue (assuming their boss hadn't sacked them first, of course).

And so we have to wonder about businesses and some of the promises they make. Not so much to clients and customers, although we have plenty of data on how some are perceived to fall woefully short on their delivery (see for more details) but more now on how they'll go about things. The principles they'll live by. The things they'd have us believe have always mattered to them.

Things like diversity. Gender pay gaps. Purpose.

"Integrity," I was told once and have never forgotten, "is doing the right thing, even when nobody's watching." It's interesting to see how some businesses have that understanding at their core, while others act as though they have a pistol at their temple. The first have worked out that they will understand and serve their diverse customer/client base better, if they have a diverse leadership team and culture. That people will give more of themselves if they know that their true selves - and their genuine talent - will be recognised. That "if the profit motive gets separated from the purpose motive, bad things happen".

We've seen examples of that last observation: bad things have happened to organisations or to their leaders, or often to both.

But the other failings are equally obvious. We can see them in those businesses that have a 'tick box' mentality, of going along with a trend because everybody else is; or complying with regulation because, well, they have to. At some point, the mask slips: "When they speak without thinking, they say what they think".

Which takes us back to that definition of integrity. Unless beliefs and values are (1) based on truth (2) expressed in everyday behaviours and (3) balanced correctly, no business will be believed in. We have seen, through three waves of our own survey, how that 'balance' should be achieved. We define six qualities on which people can discern brands' performance. Three of them create a sense of the 'drivers' within the business: the energy, the ambition, the dynamism. The other three are more 'relational': they define people's experience of the business and their sense of how the business sees them.

Too much of the 'drivers', and the brand is self-serving and self-congratulatory. Too much of the 'relational', and the brand can drift into fond irrelevance.

Integrity has to be the cornerstone of any relationship. And, as we know, an organisation (or a country?) can never anything its leader is not...


The Charisma Index 2019