“In our work with corporations around the world, we’ve seen a consistent pattern,” said Joe Folkman, president of Zenger Folkman. “Top managers in an organization create a ceiling, and levels of honesty and integrity are set at the top and then go downhill from there.”
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With these findings that in the aggregate integrity erodes as you move deeper into an organization, top leaders should take note to set a high bar for these leadership competencies.
“In this era when transparency is important to the public and corporations face increasingly high consequences when ethical lapses occur, it’s important for leaders to take steps to safeguard their personal integrity and the standards for honesty in their organizations,” said Jack Zenger, CEO of Zenger Folkman.
Zenger and Folkman suggest the following tips based on their research, featured in a recent Harvard Business Review article:
- Knowing that managers tend to assume greater levels of integrity in their direct reports than the workers do themselves, they should not take honesty as a given.
- Managers should not assume that effectiveness and honesty go hand-in-glove.
- They should deliberately communicate expectations of honesty.
- Corporations should put stronger structures in place to require and enforce the level of integrity they want to protect and assume is in place.
- Managers should take a look at their personal integrity and honesty and consider how those standards are communicated and demonstrated to their teams.
In an upcoming book now available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Zenger and Folkman reveal statistically correlated companion competencies that help leaders strengthen their ability to be more honest and integrity-driven leaders.