Integrity allows others to trust you. And without trust, you have nothing. Truth is the single most important factor in personal and profession relationships. It is the glue that holds people together. And it is the key to becoming a person of influence.
Trust is an increasingly rare commodity these days. People have become increasingly suspicious and skeptical. Bill Kynes expressed the feelings of a whole generation when he wrote,
We thought we could trust the military but then came Vietnam;
We thought we could trust the Politicians, but then came Watergate;
We thought we could trust the engineers, but then came the Cballenger disaster;
We thought we could trust our broker, but then came Black Monday;
We thought we could trust the preachers, but then came PTL and Jimmy Swaggart.
So who can I trust?
At one time you could assume that others would trust you until you gave them a reason not to. But today with most people, you must prove your trustworthiness first. That’s what makes integrity so important if you want to become a person of influence. Trust comes from others only when you exemplify solid character.
Character is made in the
small moments of our lives.
– Phillips Brooks
People today are desperate for leaders, but they want to be influenced only by individuals they can trust, persons of good character. If you want to become someone who can positive influence other people, you need to develop the following qualities of integrity and live them out every day:
- Model consistency of character. Solid trust can develop only when people can trust you all the time. If they never know from moment to moment what you’re going to do, the relationship will never deepen to a confident level of trust.
- Employ honest communication. To be trustworthy, you have to be like a good musical composition; your words and music must match.
- Value transparency. People eventually find out about your flaws, even if you try to hide them. But if you’re honest with people and admit your weaknesses, they will appreciate your honesty and integrity. And they will be able to relate to you better.
- Exemplify humility. People won’t trust you if they see that you are driven by ego, jealousy, or the belief that you are better than they are.
- Demonstrate your support of others. Nothing develops or displays your character better than your desire to put others first. As our friend Zig Ziglar says, help enough other people to succeed, and you will succeed also.
- Fulfill your promises. Never promise anything you can’t deliver. And when you say you’ll do something, follow through on it. A sure way to break trust with others is to fail to fulfill your commitments.
- Embrace an attitude of service. We have been put on this earth not to be served, but to serve. Giving of yourself and your time to others shows that you care about them. Missionary physician Sir Wilfred T Grenfell held that “the service we render to others is really the rent we ray for our room on this earth.” People of integrity are givers, not takers.
- Encourage two-way participation with the people you influence. When you live a life of integrity, people listen to you and follow you. Always remember that the goal of influence is not manipulation; it’s participation. Only as you include others in your life and success do you permanently succeed.
It has been said that you don’t really know people until you have observed them when they interact with a child, when the car has a flat tire, when the boss is away, and when they think no one will ever know. But people with integrity never have to worry about that. No matter where they are, who they are with or what kind of situation they find themselves in, they are consistent and live by their principles.
“Becoming a Person of Influence” John C. Maxwell Jim Doman