The more things change, the more they stay the same. In today’s ever changing world, leaders must have a number of skills to be effective. But there are two leadership qualities that remain as important now as they did decades ago. They are:
Trust. There’s a reason why the Great Place to Work Institute and Fortune magazine rely heavily on the level of trust between managers and employees to produce the 100 Best Companies to Work For list each year. “Research shows that trust between managers and employees is the primary defining characteristic of the very best workplaces,” according to the institute, which surveys 650,000 employees each year to measure, among other things, how much employees trust their company’s leaders to treat them well and make fair and quality decisions. Trust is good business. Don’t overlook a strong relationship built on trust with your team members.
Integrity. A deep commitment to doing the right thing, regardless of the circumstances, is a hallmark of a great leader. Leaders with integrity are vocal about communicating their values and encouraging and rewarding members of their team who act with integrity. There are no shortage of examples of companies that in the last several years and decades have leaders that acted without integrity — and their companies and employees have paid the price. Who isn’t familiar with the Volkswagen scandal or the Wells Fargo fake-account controversy? Acting with integrity couldn’t be more important today and helps leaders earn the respect of those they lead.
Integrity is a quality closely related to trust. In the very best companies, employees trust that their company’s leadership will act with integrity and that the company will make the right and ethical choice for its employees and customers (instead of taking an easier and unethical path).
Integrity and trust don’t develop on their own. Leaders must not only tell employees that they value integrity and want their employees to trust them — they must demonstrate the value of these two principles, openly and regularly.