Verizon’s former CEO – Most Important Advice
This post is based on my conversation with Denny Strigl. Denny was instrumental in launching the first cellular network in the U.S. He eventually became the president and CEO of Verizon Wireless and helped create that organizations national wireless footprint.
Honesty and integrity seem like inflexibility and harshness to dishonest rule-benders and corner-cutters.
Honesty and integrity, additionally, are not the same thing. Honesty is telling the truth. Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking.
Denny Strigl’s most frequent advice is, “Tell the truth. You are always better off telling it like it is and moving on.”
Denny explained successful managers not only tell the truth, they demand the truth. He said, “You can always tell when a manager is blowing smoke. Call them on it.” For example, whenever a manager blamed people on their team for missed deadlines, Denny would say, “Let’s call them in and talk about it.” That’s when the manager started back peddling.
At that point, Denny would say, “I won’t lie to you and you won’t lie to me.” If it happened again that manager would be out the door.
Denny told me about firing the number one salesman on the team for padding his expense account. When approached, Denny’s boss suggested he overlook it. But Denny knew great organizations have cultures of honesty and integrity. He said, “Integrity is the key to everything.”
The investigation took two gut-wrenching months. The salesman was guilty. Denny thought he would be fired for firing the top sales performer but he did it anyway. Firing him sent the right message to everyone. By the way, Denny was honored not fired.
6 Ways managers build distrust:
- Lack of openness
- Lack of respect
- Lack of integrity and honesty
- Self-serving, hidden agendas
I’ve seen shape-shifters and corner-cutters in organizations. They end up destroying their own peace of mind, demoralizing others, and creating back-stabbing cultures.
Nothing is more freeing and energizing than respectfully tell the simple truth.
How do you build trust?
Have you seen the negative effects of dishonesty and lack of integrity?
Good morning Dan, nice post to start the day. My mantra for years and all my folks know it: It takes ten years to build trust and ten seconds to lose it. Secondly like my daddy always said “if you always tell the truth there is nothing you need to remember.” I agree that when mistakes are made early ownership always works best and people will appreciate that. I like your list of how to build mistrust, a recipe for disaster in any organziation. The greatest compliment that can be bestowed on ayone is unconditional trust, a value that has no price and is never for sale. A person’s integrity and dignity hinges firmly on trust and few will follow leaders where there is uncertainty in action and wavering in a response. Dan looks like another great book to add to the list. 🙂
A reputation for honesty is like gold. Eventually you get respect, even if it seems to take forever. I have found myself on the outskirts of my family, and of some social circles. I’m finally realizing that I need to find new friends.
This isn’t exactly business related, but as a newcomer in the horse-owning world, I rescued abused horses; and found that I had to fight tooth and nail in some places where we kept them, refusing to allow fraudulent vets or farriers to touch our horse/s; in spite of being pressured by unethical barn owners and trainers.
We found ourselves on the outside of the “in-group”, but after several years, realized that we have people’s respect for the fact that we stand by the fact that the animals depend on us as their only advocate in not being subjected to unnecessary pain and fear. Best of all, they trust us.
Margaret, business-related or not, I think your point about being outside of the “in-group” is completely on topic in a business setting. Having been in a business environment where coworkers openly alluded to the “cool kids” group, it was made clear to me day in and day out that where a perception like that is spoken aloud, even partially in jest, that the erosion of collegiality has begun. It is challenging to see this behavior among adults, and it is like swimming upstream to maintain your sense of self and your compass regarding how to bring your best to the workplace when such dynamics exist.
I absolutely agree that honesty and integrity are the most essential qualities to be successful in life. Whether it is personal or professional life, it is must to succeed. Recently, in one of my regular weekly article, I wrote about honesty and integrity on the following link.
I build trust by usually telling truth and appearing real and right all the places and with everyone. That provides me strengths and energy to become more real, reliable and trustworthy.
I have seen negative effects of dishonesty and lack of integrity that is irreperable and immesearuable. By the time, people realise it, it is too late to repent. The reason of dishonesty and lack of integrity is self development, self centered behaviour and wrong meaning of success. People usually fall prey to this trend when they see others to get position and power by means of dishonesy and lack of integrity. But, self belief about honesty and integrity makes the person complete and it leads to true success that is beyond given position and power.
Steven Covey’s classic: Trust comes from being trustworthy. As Al notes above, it only takes one violation to destroy trust. Like I used to tell my kids, “Lie to me once and I have to wonder about everything else you tell me.” You can’t ever take a day off from being an honest person, because after one day off you’re not one anymore, not completely. And the next time will be that much easier to justify.
Tony Schwartz’s blog today had a title that implied it was all about collaboration, but there were some true “trust” insights within it. He talks about a business collaboration that worked beautifully for years, but that eventually fractured after a slow but inexorable distancing began. He ended the example by saying, “Trust, I learned, lies at the very heart of collaboration.” (The entire blog can be found here: http://ht.ly/5cYZP )
Micro management is sometimes hard to get over when you are in a culture of excellence and was trained to go above and beyond. Integrity and honesty is more a matter of personal value, if you don’t have them in your own life you won’t be authentic while delivering them in your workplace.
Each workplaces should have their vision and values strongly understood by everyone in the company and it should be used in the recruiting process to ensure a good fit.
I learned that when you do your best for the project or vision of the company most of the time it give better results on the long run than try to get your own goals achieved.
Trust, credibility and respect is essential to have employees engagement, it’s not something easy and you have to build it everyday and could lose it in one day. Which is why you’re better to live it and believe in it than simply do it. Authentic leadership is important.
GM Dan. Great list. The two big things that I see on this list that do the most damage are lack of openness and inconsistency. If we are not open about our dealings, or if we don’t deal with people in a consistent manner then they cannot learn to trust us.
Lack of integrity can really cause damage to a team. Case in point is if you have a set of agreed rules, and someone breaks them who you value. You can’t treat them differently in terms of how you deal with them from the rest of the team! There are no sacred cows in any team, it’s an all for one and one for all approach. Bending the rules once means you have to bend them always going forward.
i absolutely love it! we are going through some stuff right now that doesn’t need to be because the truth was sugar coated and when you do that it always ends up looking like a lack of integrity,and it hurts the peoole involved. I would always rather deal with the fall out from the truth.
Thanks for the great post. One of the main reasons I’ve noticed for lack of integrity is insecurity. Leaders at many levels in the organization want to protect their space so badly that they end up over protecting for the bad of their team and honestly themselves. For whatever reasons, many leaders tend to feel the power is within their protected shell, and hence fail to understand how the circle of influence can be utilised effectively for the overall betterment of every stakeholder involved.
Most important thought in this: call people on it when you know they’re blowing smoke.
That is a major challenge for any leader! Some people are extremely skilled at manipulation. I watched a former boss develop what I called “Commissioner Head” when she was head of a department in NYC government. The backstabbing and politicking was amazing, and she chose to go with the biggest backstabbers who were also the biggest bs-ers and told her how amazing she was. That is VERY seductive.
That experience taught me to be on guard when I found myself resisting truth from one of my staff when I was a CEO. My resistance was the very sign that I needed to listen, and stay open to the person’s message. Tough to do, yet always valuable, for the organization definitely and for my own personal growth as well.
Great post, Dan. Excellent reminders.
Excellent post .. remind me with on of the main morality of Islam that deals with people.. integrity .. unfortunately too many people choose to forget it ;(
This is a great article. Too many times performance is put before integrity and honesty. There is always a cost in people, performance, andprofit when this happens. Eventually dishonesty catches up with the culprit or the organization or both. Although embracing honesty and integrity as a way of life is not always rewarded or easy, I am encouraged. Thanks for sharing.
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