Cultural Quote #343: Integrity In Leadership (Simon Sinek)

A leader sets the tone, and so when we say, “We demand that everyone in our company be honest and tell the truth,” right? Seems simple enough. And people write those values on the walls of their company. “Honesty.” There it is for all to see. Visions and values, you know. And the point I was trying to make is if the phone rings, and your secretary, she answers and says, “David’s on the phone.” And you say, “Tell him I’m not here.” That’s a lie. That’s a patent lie.

And what we’ve now done is we’ve told our staff that when it suits us it’s okay to tell these little lies. And so in an organization like that it should come as no shock that people are lying in other parts of the company for self-interest, because that tone was set by the leader. So you can say, “I’ll call him back.” You can say, “I don’t want to talk to him right now.” But when you say, “Tell him I’m not here,” when clearly you are, then that leader says that in our organization lying is acceptable. . .

Writing on the wall means nothing. The behavior that we model absolutely matters. Like parents telling their kids to get off their cellphones, and then it’s the father or the mother that is sitting at dinner on the cellphone.

Simon Sinek

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