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  • Karen Gregory


A quick google search on the top character traits people want in their leaders will reveal that honesty comes in the top spot time after time. We actually have class participants list the character qualities they look for in the leaders during our classes, and honesty has never been missed. It may not always be the first trait named, but it is always named.

The question then, as leaders or aspiring leaders, is do you indeed have honesty as one of your leadership traits? You may believe you do, but it really isn’t what you believe that counts. It’s what others would say about you that is the real truth.

If honesty is the number one character trait your employees want then focus on strengthening that trait in yourself and recognize the different ways people interpret honesty. It’s not always as simple as the words being uttered are truthful.

Honesty is shown in your communications in several ways. When you have bad news can you deliver it in a respectful way that considers the other person or people and at the same time convey exactly what needs to be communicated? It is not your job to sugar-coat or tell others what you think they want to hear, it is a leader’s job to deliver the news unedited but in an empathetic manner.

Also in the area of communication do you express your opinion if it is not the opinion of others? If not, you are being dishonest. And you should be honest. It is through these differences of opinion where progress, innovation and creativity are exposed. Be honest enough with yourself and others to have those conversations. Be honest enough with others to let them express their opinions without fear of repercussion.

Before we leave the arena of communication – listening is also a way to show honesty. By giving someone else your undivided attention you are communicating their worth and the value of what they have to say. It doesn’t get much more honest than that.

Honesty is about accountability and discipline. If you have a poor performer are you holding that person accountable to standards? Are you having conversations with them about their performance? Have you considered how the team perceives a lack of accountability to a poor performer? Not holding others accountable to their actions is being dishonest to that employee and being dishonest to the rest of your team. To take that a step further, honesty is holding people accountable as situations arise and without delay.

Are you trusted with confidential matter? Do you do what you say you are going to do? Are you unafraid to delegate? Do others view you as a micromanager? These and many other behaviors fall into the honesty category.

Now is a great time to self-reflect on the message you are sending to others about your honesty. Honesty promotes trust. We all want to work for and with people we trust. People we can count on. Pay attention to honesty with yourself and with others. The best leaders do.


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