Book Review: The Integrity Dividend

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Intellectually, we understand that having integrity is an important value to demonstrate to others. Then we fail in the follow-through to show integrity in the moment. We don’t keep our word on small commitments, or forget our commitment to do something, or don’t think that showing up makes a difference. It does.

In “The Integrity Dividend: Leading by the power of your word,” Tony Simons makes the case for what he accurately calls “behavioral integrity.” Not only does he describe behavioral integrity from an intellectual view, he works to prove there is a bottom-line real money reason for leaders to do so.

The book is divided into three major sections:

What is the integrity dividend?

This section provides a clear definition of behavioral integrity and begins the evidence to show how the behavior makes a difference in leadership. He also provides examples of where the integrity has paid off for companies – and their employees. And if you think that small mistakes in your integrity do not have a big cost, he will set you straight.

Managing your own behavioral integrity

This section is devoted to three areas of developing your own trust and credibility, the cornerstones of integrity. While none of us may become executives in a corporation, we all have leadership capabilities in our work as individual contributors and as part of a team. Building your own integrity through these methods will make you much more effective in your career.

Building and sustaining a leadership culture of integrity

Tony takes a hard look at what it takes to build a real culture of integrity. For managers, this section is about building a culture of accountability in appraisals, training, coaching, and how to work with disagreements on policy.

For individual contributors, this section tells you how to build integrity for yourself and your team – and judge if there is integrity in how you are being managed. Integrity, of course, is a two-way street and a management team that does not have integrity isn’t worth working for in your career.

Cube Rules Rating: 5 cubes out of 5

A five cube rating means that this book is a must read for both managers and individual contributors.

The book is filled with facts – and true stories in each of these applications of integrity from real world companies and their managers. And though the book is written in more of an academic style than most, it is highly readable. I learned a great deal from this book.

This review is a mere two weeks before the national election in the United States. The amount of lying in the face of integrity is thought to not make a difference in our perceptions of the candidates. It does.

The government just agreed to the largest bailout of companies in the history of the United States and offered an initial proposal that contained not a shred of integrity until being significantly modified and thought it made no difference. It does.

Companies are telling their shareholders and employees their view of the company and spinning the story to be looked at in the most positive light, not the light of integrity, and thinking no one will find out anything differently. They will.

Executive leadership needs to lead with integrity and not just strategies and spin. Managers and employees need to re-learn the lessons of integrity. We need to re-learn how integrity impacts our career. We need to re-learn what integrity in the moment really means to our relationships.

We can do that by implementing the suggestions in “The Integrity Dividend: Leading by the power of your word.”

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