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  • Writer's pictureEdwin and George

This is the easiest way to lose good people

EGM On A Mission: Let’s Build Better Companies.

Having a bad week?

Look on the bright side.

It can’t be any worse than an official of the Indian Government went through recently.

In a story that went viral in his home country, and was picked up by media worldwide, the unfortunate food inspector dropped his phone into a reservoir while taking a selfie at a picnic.

Easily done.

The phone was a brand-new Samsung, the latest model – his work telephone.

They’re expensive.

Saying the phone contained confidential government information, the official arranged for the reservoir to be drained so the phone could be recovered.

It took three days to pump the water away in one of the most drought-stricken areas in the world.

The phone was eventually found and guess what? It was totally useless due to ‘water damage.’

The Guardian reported that the local water company had agreed that ‘a few feet’ of water could be drained, but not 2 million litres.

The government official got into hot water (sorry).

Suspended. Disciplined. Fined. Ridiculed on social media.

Afterwards he claimed the penalties he faced were ‘overblown.’

Perhaps he should have held his hands up, apologised – and bought a new phone.

Now, we have no view on this story – other than what has been in the press – and, of course, there’s always two sides.

This is what the ‘Financial Times’ said about the Indian Government official story:

‘There are lessons to be learnt from this episode about the abuse of power, that should apply to everyone in a leadership position.

Lapses in judgement and a sheer lack of integrity fly in the face of the most basic expectations of what it means to be a leader. There is a fundamental requirement not to be selfish and to think of others and try your very best to do no harm.’

Wow……fine words. And there’s more:

‘The acceptance of bad behaviour soon becomes normalised. It may be slow to start but, over time, it erodes trust in an organisation, spurs others to follow the same course and can have serious consequences.’

It's not just leaders, though...acting with integrity applies to everyone.

The sad thing is, pick up any newspaper, on any day of the week, and it will be rare not to find stories about people (in politics or business) who act without integrity.

Here are some thoughts:

  • One of the basic fundamentals of being a good human is the ability to act with integrity.

  • In 2023, more than ever, people won’t put up with poor behaviours.

  • Soft skills rule.

  • If you have people who act without integrity in your business, you have lost. See ya…..

  • There’s a lot written about company culture, purpose and belonging...But the fact is the culture you experience every day at work isn’t determined by a Head Office hundreds of kilometres away. People can work in the same company and experience totally different cultures.

  • Remember. We are dealing with adults. Staff see what’s going on.

  • Staff know if a leader or toxic employee lacks integrity.

  • If someone ‘fobs customers off, ‘sugar-coats or doesn’t tell the truth, has favourites in the team or engages in office all gets worse if there’s an attempt to ‘cover up’ what is going on.

  • In companies where people act with integrity, where people do their best to be role models and do what is right, staff see this. They try their best and there are high levels of engagement. These are companies with low attrition.

  • In companies where people act without integrity, the opposite happens.

The basic quality of any good human is the ability to act with integrity.

Words and actions are heard or seen – and tucked away in the minds of the team.

If people act without integrity, people observe, lose engagement, start looking for other jobs and leave.

A lack of integrity in teams works like termites in a house.

They start slow and are hidden in the dark behind the walls. But they are consistently eating away at our infrastructure, until one day the stairs suddenly crumble.

Only then do we realise that it’s a matter of time before the walls come tumbling down.

The basic quality of any good human is the ability to act with integrity.

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