There is a certain fundamental quality about leaders that is the foundation for all that leadership stands for. Without this quality a leader has nothing — no respect from his team, no credibility with his peers, and no trust from his superiors. What is this quality? Honesty.
What is honesty — really? dictionary.com gives some synonyms that are familiar: fairness, uprightness, truthfulness, sincerity, and frankness. It also gives (as the 3rd definition), the phrase that to me captures what this quality is for leaders: freedom from deceit or fraud. This definition of honesty also includes concepts like:
- integrity: doing the right thing no matter what
- ethical behavior: knowing the right thing to do
- trustworthiness: following through with commitments
- transparency: being open about what is being done and why
The reason this is a quality of leadership should be clear: if people don’t see that you’re doing the right thing, they won’t follow your lead. People want to follow someone that they can believe in; someone who will do the right thing, won’t let them down, and will be straight with them — in short, someone they can trust.