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The Integrity Dividend: Leading by the Power of Your Word Hardcover – October 6, 2008
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"The Integrity Dividend is an exceptional work on a fundamental and oft-misunderstood subject in today’s global business environment."—Marshall Goldsmith, New York Times and Wall Street Journal #1 best selling author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
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Definitely highly recommend leaders to read this book, especially those who are leading any type of organizational change. This book will help make those changes smoother.
Part 1 - What Is The Integrity Dividend?: The Dollar Value of Your Impeccable Word; Executive Sightings of the Integrity Dividend; Behavioral Integrity Drivers and Payoffs - Why Small Mistakes Can Have Big Costs
Part 2 - Managing Your Own Behavioral Integrity - Building Trust and Credibility: Promise Less, But Do It More Often; The Language of Living by Your Word - Confronting and Committing; Behavioral Integrity as a Personal Discipline
Part 3 - Behavioral Integrity and the Ripple Effect - Building and Sustaining a Leadership Culture of Integrity: Easing the Middle Manager's Dilemma; Creating a Culture of Accountability; Management Fashions and the Flavor-of-the-Month Club
Part 4 - Broader Applications and Summary: The Integrity Dividend and Outside Stakeholders; Capturing the Integrity Dividend
Notes; Acknowledgments and Dedication; About the Author; Index
In order to lead effectively, you have to have credibility. And in order to have credibility, you have to deliver on what you promise or say you will do, as well as behaving consistently with those words and promises. It's this premise on which The Integrity Dividend is based. Leaders in business (and really in all types of organizations) can only be effective if the people following them know that there is no gap between what you say and what you do. This type of leadership has many benefits, not the least of which is financial. Staff who know they can rely on their leadership to do as they say will be more loyal and effective in what they do. This translates to higher performance within the business, as well as more satisfied customers. The "corporation" also must have integrity, such as following through on promises they make to the public (like no-questions-asked guarantees). If the public finds that your actions are not consistent with the promises or image, then they will quickly find another company that is. Likewise, if you and the company are seen to have complete behavioral integrity between what you do and say, their loyalty will know few bounds.
Rather than keep everything on what could be a purely academic or theoretical level, Simons relates all his work back to actual real-life situations. This makes it very easy to follow his train of thought, and adds a level of credibility to his ideas. He's also not afraid to say that some areas have no good answers. For instance, a middle manager can often be stuck between a decision from on high that violates his personal views and positions. But ultimately, the choice quite often comes down to follow the decision because everyone needs to be on the same page, or leave your position because you're crossing a line that you will not violate. Unfortunately, there aren't always easy answers to problems, and Simons acknowledges that.
For me personally, I have been struggling with the "sure, I can do that" promise. Instead of saying no or setting realistic expectations, I say that I intend to do "x" in the near future. Then when I can't deliver because of over-commitment, I feel bad and the customer suffers. I have a lot of work to do on improving my behavioral integrity, and I appreciate the work that Tony Simons has done in The Integrity Dividend to help me in that area.
Tony Simons approaches things from a more grass roots and practical direction however. Rather than the abstract appeal to doing right for its own sake that is usually the domain of religion and other moral institutionalize value systems, Simons very simply ties these issues to day to day management and the bottom line.
With very little fanfare and in an organized and scientific manner Simons prefaces the anecdotal presentations that are standard fare for a book of this nature with a study that demonstrates that within the Hotel Service industry there is a direct correlation between the perceived integrity of management and the profitability of a local hotel or chain. In other words, the "street knowledge" that good guys don't get ahead and it's the people willing to cut corners to get the job done who win out in the end, generally is not true and Simon's study statistically demonstrates that issues such as employee morale, vendor trust and customer satisfaction derive in part from a corporate environment that is based in part upon how well these different parties perceive the personal integrity and word of leadership.
From this foundation then, Simons proceeds to share the softer elements turned up in his study in a manner reminiscent of the folksy, chatty type of literature that is standard fare in this genre. What is different however and important to highlight is that Simons has in fact already done the heavy lifting in chapter 1 to show that this is more than mere lip service. A reasonable foundation has been laid that demonstrates that personal integrity, as perceived by these different stakeholders in the Hotel Service industry, ties directly to profitability in a manner that allows of measure of what typically are seen as "soft costs" but in reality are shown to be cumulative and to tie into issues that in fact are hard wired into the process, such as employee retention, vendor willingness to work with extraordinary circumstances right down to customer satisfaction and repeat business even where these background factors aren't usually measured and directly correlated.
Of course, it can be argued that this study is industry specific and these factors perhaps amplified in such an obviously service based industry such as the Hotel and Restaurant focus from which Simons is coming. Simons does an excellent job however of reasonably expanding the base of his study to provide insights and strong cause and effect evidence that extend to where any level of management or leadership in any industry will find value in reading this well written book.
This book is more valuable to the reader than the typical case studies of large scale failures at the high corporate level because it demonstrates in an understandable way how these issues impact your personal effectiveness and your company's bottom line to where a reader will walk away not only motivated but also equipped as to how to bring about change in their personal lives and careers.
5 enthusiastic stars