The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™: Integrity & Authenticity
A section from Joe’s new book, The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™ coming out later this year.
Integrity & Authenticity
Years ago when I was married, my wife and I were going through a rough patch and so we separated for a while. After a short time we reconciled and in celebration of our decision, we threw a party. At that point my life was pretty compartmentalized because I felt the need to keep all my facades (faces) very far apart. My church folks were separate from my work folks, who were separate from my in-laws, who were … you get the picture. I’ll never forget walking outside onto the deck with a pitcher of Margarita’s and hearing bits and snippets of all the conversations that were taking place.
My dear elderly friend Helen who I met when she read my Tarot Cards, was smoking a cigarette and deeply engaged in a conversation with Lucy, my friend Jim’s wife, the arch-christian from my church. I can still see the word bubbles over their heads. “Lucy: So how did you meet Joe?” Helen, in her raspy, throaty, smokers voice from years of cigarettes, “Well if you must know the truth, I read his ta-roooooooo .” The words just hung there in slow motion over her head as if time and space came to screeching halt.
Oh my god, my worlds were colliding. I felt like George Costanzo in a bad Seinfeld episode!
I turned to the left where my friend Phil, from my men’s therapy group was explaining a little bit about our group retreats to my brother-in-law Bruce, yes, my wife’s older, overly protective brother who never really liked me. Did I mention both he and his brother were cops? I swear I heard Phil finishing his sentence with … “running naked through the woods!”
My world was crumbling and with it all the walls of defense I had constructed to keep me safe and separate. The truth is I was out of integrity. Why? Because my world wasn’t integrated. I felt like I had to be a different person in each and every group.
When it comes to integrity as a leader I think we have to ask ourselves: Am I the same person with my team in the office as I am with them at happy hour? Am I the same person at happy hour on Friday night with my friends as I am at church on Sunday morning with my family?
Sure I understand the need to adjust our behaviors in different situations. However, I am talking about who you are at your core.
The more you separate yourself, the more out of integrity you are because the pieces and parts of your life are not connected and whole. Besides keeping up facades and separate lives will eventually come to roost … it is just a matter of time. Yes this might seem like an extreme example and … this is the stuff that shows up on the nightly news and shocks the neighbors and coworkers, “He was always a quiet person and a great neighbor, I’m shocked.” Or “I’m shocked, they were together for 25 years and always seemed like they were so happy … in public”
The point here is if you have to play all these different roles at different times with different people, how can you be authentic? Besides which one of those facades is the real you?
At some point your true self will come out because trying to hold all these separate lives together is like trying to hold a beach ball under water in the pool. Eventually you are going to get tired and that thing is going to launch out from under you like a rocket and you might just sink like an anchor.
People are pretty good judges of character and especially if you’re their leader. They know when their getting manipulated no matter how eloquently you speak or what you say. Think politicians … “it depends on what the definition of is … is?”
Look, you are either being truthful or you’re not. Period the end.
Let me let you in on a little secret. As a leader, you cannot give away something you do not have. If you demand honesty and integrity from your people but you don’t give it to them you won’t get it from them.
There are Universal laws in this world (laws that cannot be broken) and this is one of them … The Law of Reciprocity – If you want something in return you first have to be willing to give it.
For example, if you want honesty from others you have to be first willing to be honest with them first. If you want respect from your people you have to be willing to give them respect first.
So if you find your life compartmentalized and feel that you need to be someone else, especially as a leader. Now might be a good time to ask yourself the question: What makes you feel like you can’t be who you are? Or better yet … “What do you believe is so wrong with you that you feel like who you are, isn’t enough?