The Single Most Important Quality for Lasting Leadership
Over 75,000 people were asked: What qualities in a leader would inspire you to follow willingly?
One quality topped the list: honesty.
Integrity is another word for honesty. We trust people who we believe have integrity. We distrust those who we perceive lack integrity.
But integrity is just a word. Enron had integrity listed as one of their five core values. The word itself doesn’t hold much power. The power comes when a person’s or company’s behavior supports what the word represents.
Businesses run by men and women with integrity have a long-term, competitive advantage over those who don’t.
In the short term, a business without integrity might grow faster. But as the demand for transparency grows in the marketplace, these businesses struggle to stay afloat.
In The Maslow Business Reader, psychologist Abraham Maslow notes that:
“any enterprise which wishes to endure over a long period and to remain in a healthy and growing state would certainly want a non-manipulative, trusting relationship with its customers rather than the relationship of the quick fleecing, never to see them again.”
The Key to Forming Social Bonds
If we reduce customer loyalty to a strategy, we miss the point.
Authentic customer loyalty doesn’t come from loyalty programs or rewards cards.
These are valid marketing strategies. But you don’t create loyalty from strategies.
To understand the drivers of loyalty, we need to start by appreciating how we form social bonds in our personal lives and around the office.
To adopt a customer-oriented psychology, first consider how you relate to other people:
- How do you form meaningful relationships?
- What leads you to be loyal to one human being over another?
- Do you form loyal bonds with someone you don’t trust?
Trust is the foundation for social bonds, for we don’t like associating with people we don’t trust.
But why is it often so challenging to build trust?
The People We Play at Work
Starting in early childhood, we put on social masks—what Carl Jung called personas. We use these masks to interface with the world.
We hide behind these masks in adulthood because we don’t want others to see who we are.
There are two primary reasons for this:
First, we believe we should appear a certain way within specific roles. We adopt role models from films, television, and people we encounter.
Unconsciously, we model their behavior even if that behavior doesn’t serve us.
Many entrepreneurs believe they need to look powerful and certain at all times to gain the trust and respect of their team. (Perhaps like Gordon Gekko from the film Wall Street.)
But who is certain all the time? Could you trust someone that believes they hold all the answers to everything?
Second, we fear not being accepted by others. The need for approval is a driving force behind much of our behavior because it’s a basic human need.
The challenge with our social masks is that they are dishonest. If we are consciously wearing them, we are deceiving others. If we are unconsciously wearing them, we are deceiving ourselves.
Even though others may not know they are being deceived, their subconscious mind knows all. Deception makes people Go to the full article.