One of the greatest attributes a business can have is trust. Trust is so important between a company and its customers, as well as between the leaders of a company and the rest of the staff right on down the line. Trust can take a long time to build, but it can be lost in no time at all. One really bad decision can crush all the trust a company has built up with its customers or a company leader has built with his or her employees. That’s why one of the key elements to building trust is integrity.
Joel Peterson – A Lesson in Integrity
I recently spent some time speaking with Joel Peterson, Chairman of JetBlue, founder of Peterson Partners and author of The 10 Laws of Trust. Joel knows a thing or two about building trust. He has enjoyed many years of success in capital investments in several industries. He currently teaches Entrepreneurial Management at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and serves as a Director of Franklin Covey. Joel also previously served as Managing Partner of Trammell Crow Company and he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. I asked Joel why is integrity important when it comes to building Trust?
Integrity Is The First Law of Trust
Joel said that the first law of trust is integrity. “I think it’s very tough to build a high trust organization without the leadership having integrity.” Joel then explained that there are actually two kinds of integrity. “One is people do what they say they’ll do; there’s not a gap between what they say and what they do. The second kind is not compartmentalizing your life. It’s very tough to have integrity at work if you don’t have integrity in your personal life.” Joel noted that people can tell when others try to pretend that they have integrity at work but don’t have any integrity in their personal life. “If you want to build a high trust organization, it starts with the leaders having integrity.” If there is hypocrisy, there can’t be any trust.
Integrity in Times of Stress
I also talked with Joel about his experience as a leader and how he has seen firsthand the need for integrity within the organizations he has led or for which he has served as a board member. I asked him to share some situations where having integrity has really helped to establish some important decisions he has had to make. According to Joel, integrity helps the most when things get stressful. When everything is going well everyone feels good and trust is high. However, when things get tough and you are forced to do all the hard things that it takes to make a business work, that is when the trust that people have in you will help you get through those hard times. That’s why it’s so key for the leaders of an organization to have integrity.
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