Integrity, a subject that many of us easily talk about but often used to hide our real selves. I will use excerpts from an article I recently read around the subject.
Corporate Integrity: It Starts at the Top
I heard of a story about a gentleman who used to be affiliated with a construction company whose owner ordered the workers to cut corners in every way possible without getting caught. Some foremen were even chastised for taking extra care to do a good job. Did this philosophy work? No. The company did make money, but the employees who took pride in their work went elsewhere, leaving a workforce who simply was not trustworthy and a company which had a shady reputation.
When a new owner set a policy of always doing things right, the company slowly began to grow. Those who continued to cut corners were dismissed and a new vitality began to emerge as the employees felt good about themselves; they began to love their jobs and became proud of who they worked for. Guess what? This company continues to flourish today. Coincidence? I think not.
Individual Integrity: We Are All Accountable
Writer and speaker Nicky Gumble punctuates this truth in the following story:
A man named Gibbo used to work as a clerk for Selfridges. One day the phone rang and Gibbo answered. The caller asked to speak to Gordon Selfridge, who happened to be in the room at the time. When Mr. Selfridge instructed Gibbo to tell the caller that he was out, Gibbo handed him the phone and said, ‘You tell him you’re out!’ Gordon Selfridge was absolutely furious, but Gibbo said to him, ‘Look, if I can lie for you, I can lie to you. And I never will.’ That moment transformed Gibbo’s career at Selfridges – he became the owner’s most trusted employee.
Integrity, for Gibbo, was so deeply ingrained that he disobeyed his boss without hesitation. Yes, he might have been fired, but I am guessing that Gibbo wouldn’t have wanted to continue working there anyway. In this case, however, his integrity was instrumental to his ascent at Selfridges.
Why Integrity Works
It is no surprise that employees with integrity shine. They do not undermine their fellow workers, they work just as hard whether they are being watched or not, they can always be counted on to do their best, and they will be honest enough to admit it if they have made mistakes. They won’t pass the blame, but they will share the credit. They are an inspiration to others, creating a positive and upbeat work environment.
If you were in charge of hiring and networking, wouldn’t you dig beneath the surface of a potential employee’s resume to learn of their integrity? Of course you would. Therefore, if you are that employee, your services will be coveted, both when you are hired and for years thereafter.
How Are You Doing?
- Do you leave work early when there is no possibility anyone else will find out?
- Do you accept full responsibility (or your share) when things don’t go well?
- Do you share the credit when things go right?
- Do you confront wrongdoing, even if it means confronting a Team Leader/Manager?
- Do you hide legitimate income to avoid paying taxes on it (such as not reporting cash payments)?
- Do you claim tax deductions you can’t document?
When I left my job as a corporate executive, most people did not understand what I was trying to do. I remember calling my mentor, Mr Zweli Manyathi and spending 45 minutes with him on the phone with the whole conversation centered around the foolishness of the decision. The concern was mostly created by my own inability to explain what felt right but didn’t make sense.
What exactly is that? Social entrepreneurship uses business techniques and private sector approaches to unearth solutions to social, cultural, or environmental problems. The idea may be applied to a variety of organizations with different sizes, aims, and beliefs. Generally speaking, entrepreneurs measure performance in profit, revenues and increases in share prices.
However, social entrepreneurs also take into account a positive “return to society” over and above conventional business performance approaches.
Social entrepreneurship typically attempts to further broad social, cultural, and environmental goals often associated with the voluntarism (often confused with pure philanthropy). I have since met many social entrepreneurs (whether they call themselves such or not).
As many people who know me will attest to, people who get me in terms of values and what I stand for generally and those who enjoy working with me tend to literally follow me. However, Dot does not work for me and neither is she involved in BPO, Education or the church. She has however involved in in creating opportunities for young South Africa. She just facilitated 5000 young people through a learnership between February and June, majority of whom are already gainfully employed with one of the large retail groups in South Africa. In my sector we call this Impact Sourcing and it makes global headlines.
Dot goes about her day like this is nothing. The morning, we met for a catchup, as we shared our favourite drink, Cafe Latte (we have shared this bad habit since we met long ago), she casually told me she is preparing for her second intake of 6000 plus young people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. That’s 6000 unemployed school leavers who would otherwise have not chance to join the formal economy and provide for their families.
So, why am I sharing this? I am sharing this precisely because when I meet friends and colleagues who share my passion for a better tomorrow for our nation, it validates the decision I took to jump out of the corporate rat race based on the feeling that it was right. I share it so i can say to my friend Zuki Mzozoyana of Young Entrepreneurs and #Uthemandithi (He said I should do/say…), it’s ok to not make sense to the world when you follow your calling. I am sharing this to encourage other people who want to make a difference in the lives of others through their vocational activities.
Thank you to all the roses busy growing on concrete. Those who know that poverty is not meant to permanently move from generation to generation on this the wealthiest continent on earth. The champions who get up and do something about what they see in our communities. While the world wonders about what can or can’t be done, we get young Africans into opportunities and change destiny for families, communities, countries and out continent. Thobela! Nda!
This article is a collection of thoughts from a time in my life when I was in what I call the wilderness period which I happened to also share on micro blogging site, Twitter and Facebook social media platforms. Excuse the apparent editorial poetic justice taken, this was a “dream” broken into single thoughts congested into 140 characters at a time.
Its a call for a moment to pause and ponder. To stop and think hard about the South Africa of our dreams. A South Africa of Biko, of Hani and many other heroes that died for the country to become such, a colourful nation. Its a call for us to think hard. It is not a prophesy, neither is it an indication of political preference. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed “dreaming”.
As I pause (for now), I put it out there as an appeal to all proud South Africans in politics, civil society, education, health and business. That one day, the country will use its skills and talents for the betterment of its citizens regardless of political affiliation (read slates). Despite all its level of malfunction and misdirection at times, I still have a dream that one day this nation will rise to its founding creed (the freedom charter)
We all should ask ourselves: what would it take for South Africa’s young heart to start imagining and doing? For us to move away from polarization where everything is arranged according to race and or class. Where the system does not make rape something to be ashamed of but instead protecting the victims and harshly dealing with the criminals. Where well meaning men and women don’t spend time lamenting the sickness that has become our society. Where the men of our nation don’t rape their women and children and rather protect them.
In my dream, we (both public and private sectors) served a nation with pride. We saw the opportunity to serve rather than an obligation. Unemployment was lowest in the world and history and the few unemployed were fed, educated and their health taken care of. We lived the ubuntu ethics of ancient Africa. No teenage pregnancies and no abortion laws…there was no need.
In my beautiful native land we had the most sophisticated medical facilities with cancer, TB and infant mortality the lowest in the world. Under Madam Prez no woman worked worked in fear of being raped, no child knew abuse and anyone who dared to dream could thrive without fear of political favour.
South Africa’s president, Mama Prez as we affectionately called her as, epitomized integrity, statesmanship, and the true spirit of ubuntu.When my president spoke, the world stopped and took note…for she was the mouthpiece of the world and represented well.
According to Collins et al, there are five attributes that typify a true Leader:
They are self-confident enough to set up their successors for success.
They are humble and modest.
They have “unwavering resolve.”
They display a “workmanlike diligence – more plow horse than show horse.”
They give credit to others for their success and take full responsibility for poor results.
They “attribute much of their success to ‘good luck’ rather than personal greatness.”
It is my wish that the dangerously risky task of leading humanity continues to draw on the strength that is heart leadership and all efforts will be expended to cultivate and nurture such through this medium.
In attempting to discuss the person of Jesus Christ in the context of leadership, it is important to specify that both historical accounts and structural records do not project Christ as a warm and fuzzy character that has come to be the theme of most sermons. Jesus Christ was and is the epitome of leading change.
Firstly, those involved in the process of leading change will tell you that it is one of the most difficult roles a human being can attempt. This is so because as human beings, we hate change even though admitting so is politically incorrect. So we resist moving from our comfort zones especially when the next zone does not guarantee comfort upfront.
So Jesus Christ introduces an ideology that challenges the established Jewish religious foundation while at the same time declaring himself the son of the living God. This makes his mission dangerous for itself and for him as the face of it.
See more at: http://www.spiritdominion.com
After all is said and done, humility is a great quality of leadership which derives respect and not just fear or hatred. In both public office and corporate leadership power could be dangerous in the absence of humility.
As often mentioned, I am firm a believer in leadership being a state of being rather than what we do. In other words who we are comes before what we do. It is in the moments when the formal power layers have been taken off that we see the real person. Sometimes the titles we are formally given make us not be who we are and thus rob the world of an opportunity to experience the greatness we are.
One thing I have come to appreciate is that leadership begins with the heart. A heart that is consistent in allowing the leader to live steadily while moving among the team. A heart that is contrite enough to allow humility and willingness to show humanity regardless of who witnesses it. A type of heart that is courageous enough to chart the right path without shrinking from doing the right thing.
A leader should be able to communicate his/her convictions regardless of what the implications. We have many great examples of those who led with conviction (our very own Madiba, Ghandi, Marcus Garvey, Patrice Lumumba, Martin Luther King and others are often referred to in this context).
They are committed to a course regardless of how unpopular that may be. And finally they are totally captivated by what they believe in so much so that it matters not if that survives them (being ready to die for an idea that will live than live for an idea that will die).