5 WAYS TO LEAD WITH INTEGRITY
As someone who has been consulting on small businessess and working in the online space since 2013, I’ve seen a lot of shady business. With the rise of digital entrepreneurship and women stepping into a more business-owner role, we’re starting to see MLMs taking off, the “online coaching world” strongly resembling a pyramid scheme itself, and a lot of predatory business practices. How do you make sure you lead with integrity and you don’t fall into these practices yourself?
I have outlined 5 ways below for you to check in with yourself and ensure you’re operating from an aligned and profitable place.
1. START WITH WHY
As a major Ted Talk fan (hiiiii!), I can refer many things back to a Ted Talk and this is no different. Simon Sinek wrote and created one of the most watched Ted Talks of all time called “Start With Why” where he outlines a new method of viewing your work. Many of us introduce our work by saying WHAT we do “I’m in tech” “I’m a writer” “I’m a personal trainer”. Our next thought is HOW we do it “…working in social media algorithms” or “as a best selling science fiction author” or “for women who want quick workouts online”.
But what is your…why? What mission do you have guiding you?
For me, I want more women to have money in their pockets. I think the world is a better place when women are top earners and financially independant. So my why? Helping women build profitable businesses. When I start with what, then how, then why, I sound like everyone else: “I’m an online business consultant who helps build profitable businesses” is a lot different than saying “I’m working to help more women gain financial independance”.
Starting with “why” not only gives your audience a better connection to you, it also gives you purpose which helps you stay motivated.
2. ALIGN WITH CORE VALUES
While thinking of your “why” on your quest to lead with integrity, you could also think about your 3(ish) ethics pillars that will motivate you. What issues are important to you? What future do you want to contribute to? What charities would you like to align with at different times? Another way to consider what core values you align with, is to decide which you ABSOLUTELY do not align with. I know which topics I don’t personally feel are in natural alignment with my business, or with my own personal ethics.
What is important to you? What emotions do you want to evoke? What are your absolutely-s and absolutely nots?
3. QUALITY OVER SALES
So many people say some version of “I REALLY NEED this business to work. I need the money. I can’t land clients and it’s so stressful because I’m so in debt”. How does this fear turn into leading from integrity? There’s a simple truth behind this honestly. When you do anything to “make money”, I promise you it is the last thing you will get.
When you “start with why” and focus solely on creating something of quality that gives back – that’s when you see money. A quick buck fades fast – quality will bring you way further for a longer period of time.
4. BE VULNERABLE
As creators, business owners, accounts on IG, entrepreneurs, etc. we share tips and business practices and our wins with our audience. We hear all the time that a way to maintain integrity is to be vulnerable – but there is manufactured and real vulnerability. Manufactured vulnerability comes in the form of telling your story, sharing your “fails” in a way that still benefits you, or saying you’re having a hard day.
True vulnerability comes from how to speak to others, how you speak to your team, how you connect in a way where you show you are human – a soul. Examples of this are by saying “wow youre right, I didnt consider that point of view”, “to be honest, I dont know that answer!”, “I did once believe xyz but now that I know better I’d like to retract what I said”. Sharing that you are fallible but working to be better is a vulnerability that always pays off with your community.
5. SELF AUDIT
Finally, with all this introspection to lead with integrity – you’re starting with why, you have your core values, your focus is quality and you’re open to being vulnerable as you grow. What now?
Now your work is to check in with yourself, to make sure that you are consistently aligned with these decisions. Making the decision once and forgetting about it does nothing for your future. Keep these close by, check in with them daily, integrate it into your culture. At times, updating them to where you are or how you’re growing is important as your business grows.
Check in with yourself annually, quarterly, monthly, and bring this into how you interact with different teams, clients, your content, etc.
What do you think of these 5 suggestions? I’ve seen more that I disagree with online than I do agree with online and I think a lot of these predatory business practices stem from a lack of leading with integrity, a statement I’m sure you’re sick of hearing. What are some suggestions you feel could help a community lead with integrity?