We’ve spent a few weeks discussing the traits you need to be an effective leader during a crisis. Decisiveness, communication, listening, humanness – they’re all essential. And underpinning them all is our last key trait: integrity.
Integrity is about being authentic and accountable – owning your mistakes. That means doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, whether someone’s watching or not, and acknowledging when they’ve fallen short. Great leaders take responsibility for the world they’re trying to create.
In the wake of George Floyd’s killing and the Black Lives Matter movement, we’ve seen good and bad examples of integrity from companies.
There’s a big difference between those leaders who jumped on the bandwagon – just using a hashtag or participating in Blackout Tuesday – and those taking concrete steps towards increasing their pipeline of Black talent, especially at leadership and managerial levels within their organisation. That’s integrity.
Racial inequality is a crisis that affects us all, whoever we are – because inequality for one, is inequality for all. Great leaders take action, where others just talk about it – because either you are actively anti-racist as a leader, or you are continuing to support systems of oppression. Over time, this erodes trust with all your people.
The bigger picture
McKinsey & Company published a list of 10 actions in June, acknowledging their need to improve and setting clear targets for addressing racial inequality. This included doubling Black leadership and overall hiring targets over the next four years – and that shows an integrity, and an authentic display of owning up to past failures, that just posting a hashtag doesn’t accomplish.
More recently in August, a group of 16 tech companies – including Survey Monkey, Slack, and Zoom – published an open letter calling for diversity from their vendors and partners. Acknowledging the ecosystem they exist in, and pushing for systemic change, they pledged to contact their 20 biggest vendors to make their new standards for diversity, equity, and inclusion known.