Our 2013 Newsletter Series examines the Top 11 Characteristics of "Effective Organizations". To qualify for this distinction, an organization must not only meet its stated goals and accomplish its stated mission, but the mission and goals must be ones that people would want to invest in and/or participate in because they bring superior value to not only the individual, but also customers and society in general. So far we have seen that an Effective Organization:
#1 -- clearly defines and communicates mission / goals / values / expectations
#2 -- aligns all aspects of the organization including people, systems and processes
#3 -- models and develops Facilitative-Relational Leadership throughout the organization
#4 -- holds everyone accountable with both positive and negative consequences for results
#5 -- builds a collaborative and empowered environment based upon teamwork
#6 -- tolerates appropriate risk taking and learns from both success and failure in an attempt to be innovative
#7 -- focuses on meeting customer expectations and needs.
This month we will look at how an Effective Organization:
#8 -- creates a culture based on honesty, integrity and mutual respect.
Honesty & Integrity
Let’s start our discussion by focusing first on honesty and integrity. What does it mean to have a culture based on honesty and integrity? We tend to think of honesty as “telling the truth” and integrity as “doing what you say you will do”. I once heard someone define integrity as “doing what is right even when no one else is watching” and I think that is a really good working definition of the term.
Have you ever worked with someone that you didn’t trust because that person told you one thing and did another? Maybe it only happened on one occasion, but sometimes it only takes one violation of trust to create distrust. As a customer, have you ever been promised one thing, but gotten something else? How did this make you feel about patronizing that company again?
Effective organizations are built on a foundation of honesty and integrity because their leaders know that this creates an environment of trust both within the organization and with those that do business with the organization. Leaders know that the willingness of their employees to follow them and of customers to patronize them is determined by the level of trust that those employees and customers have in them.
These leaders also know that this is a result of a history of them meeting expectations that have been clearly articulated and communicated. In effect, this creates an environment where employees are willing to follow leadership because they can predict outcomes.....an environment where customers are willing to pay money for goods or services because they can predict outcomes.
Moral & Ethical Behavior
Honesty and integrity also require moral and ethical behavior as a component. These concepts are difficult to define, but at a minimum include a set or code of accepted values and principles that follow not only legal requirements, but also take into consideration the impact that decisions have on others, both internally and externally. Honest people and organizations are those that are seen to consistently and predictably abide by society’s accepted code of morality and ethics even when faced with the opportunity to violate that code. Unfortunately, history is full of examples of people and organizations that have violated society’s legal and moral code. Fortunately, leaders of effective organizations do not usually appear on that list.
Effective organizations also attempt to create a culture based on “mutual respect”. Mutual respect is an outward and reciprocal regard for the dignity of another person. It is demonstrated by the way two or more individuals interact, especially when communicating with one another. It involves an attempt to understand the views and feelings of another person and the other person doing the same in return. It involves not only attempting to understand views and feelings, but doing so in a manner that communicates interest through the way we look (body language), what we say (our words) and how we say it (tone of voice). Mutual respect does not mean always agreeing with, or even liking others....it means ensuring mutual opportunity to express views while maintaining one's dignity. Failure to engage in mutual respect very often leads to friction, conflict, and ultimately organizational (and even personal relationship) failure. If you don’t believe this, just Google “divorce attorneys” and see how many hits you get!
What's the point?
Our introductory definition of "Effective Organizations" makes the case for honesty, integrity and mutual respect -- bring superior value to not only the individual, but also customers and society in general. While value is most easily seen from a financial perspective, it is most clearly felt by internal and external customers in the way they are treated -- especially when nobody is looking.