Entrepreneurial leaders possess several qualities that allow them to drive business success including integrity, honesty, and ethical standards. This values-based leadership is at the core of what sets apart those leaders at the top of their entrepreneurial game. In this article we will explore how these three integral qualities make up the best entrepreneurs with Babson Professor Raj Sisodia.
Leaders who demonstrate integrity garner trust among their colleagues. They aren’t afraid of the truth, and they stand up for what they believe in. This, in turn, leads to loyal customers, increased profits, and a better world for all. Maintaining honesty and integrity in leadership; for example owning your mistakes and practicing what you preach is essential to become a successful entrepreneurial leader.
Ethical leaders act with integrity, honesty, and value authenticity. An ethical leader is someone who is an expert at leading by example and solving problems in a way that is fair to all parties involved without any biases. At their best an ethical leaders listen and consider the viewpoints of everyone on their team to make the best decisions in order to generate positive, ethical cultures.
The link between integrity, ethics, and trust is essential in the leader-employee relationship. Leaders are judged on character and competence, while employees associate integrity with kindness and having good intentions as opposed to selfish motives.
To some, the best leadership traits can be summed up under the umbrella of entrepreneurial leadership. These traits include navigating uncertainty, exploring ambiguity, and managing risk. And, the best entrepreneurial leaders know how to adapt, change, and innovate, especially in times of crisis.
To further explore the questions in this article, we spoke with Babson Professor Raj Sisodia on how honesty and integrity in leadership plays out in different settings.
Babson Professor Raj Sisodia said he believes that organizations can practice conscious leadership, a leadership style to emphasizes being present while leading a team, as a way to benefit the individual, the company, and society, as well as increase profits. Sisodia is the founder and leader of the Conscious Capitalism movement—based on his book by the same name—and teaches marketing at Babson College.
In his latest book, The Healing Organization, Sisodia imagines a world where organizations act in the best interests of their customers, and encourages them to stand up for “fairness, truth, beauty, integrity, and basic goodness.”
He describes organizations with employees who love coming to work, and passionately loyal customers. These companies make a positive difference in the communities they serve, and they preserve and restore the ecosystems in which they operate.
Of course, this requires leaders who act with integrity, honesty, and kindness. The result? Happy and engaged employees, loyal customers, communities rewarded, and a restored ecosystem. And, profits often follow.
Interested in improving your entrepreneurial skills? Read more about Babson’s entrepreneurial mindset in education.
We also can see this values based leadership style in the work Babson does. Mary C. Gentile is a senior fellow in social innovation. She is the author of Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right. She gets to the question: What is ethical leadership and why is honesty in leadership important?
“Giving voice to values is a new approach, an innovative approach, to thinking about, talking about, and teaching about how we can act on our values in the workplace,” said Gentile.
The Giving Values to Voices approach to values-driven leadership understands that simply building awareness is insufficient. What also is needed is the preparation for effective, values-driven action.
To take values-driven action, leaders must create scripts and implement plans for responding to the commonly heard reasons for questionable practices. Integrity in leadership is an essential ingredient to navigating these values conflicts.
And, importantly, the Giving Voice to Values approach to values provides individual managers and business leaders with the opportunity to work together to respond to these rationalizations.
An honest leader is someone who builds trust within their team, sets a positive example for others, and encourages feedback and accountability amongst their team. Entrepreneurial leaders that are honest also prioritize building inclusive working environments for their teams.
But another key point of honesty comes from awareness both in the office and outside of it. Leadership is strongest when it understands how the outside world can, and often does, affect employees. This balancing act can be tricky, but it’s a necessary tenet of having honesty in leadership.
A group of Babson faculty are working to lead change, brought on by the recent examples of social injustice in our society. For starters, they have formed a new Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
This committee is named Dean of Faculty, Faculty Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Development. Or, DoF Inclusive Excellence Committee, for short.
“There is a mandate from the world for Babson to lead the change we envision.”
Ken Matsuno, Murata Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College
Babson recognizes that it is no longer acceptable to say the right things without action.
“We should have done this yesterday,” said Associate Professor Tina Opie, recently named chair.
The committee is planning strategic efforts to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion into core components of the faculty, planning, and curriculum. This effort underscores the need for integrity in leadership—when doing the right thing is simply the right thing to do.
“There is a mandate from the world for Babson to lead the change we envision,” said Murata Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Ken Matsuno. “We must do better.”
The goal? That Babson becomes “Babson Brave,” what Opie refers to as an environment in which “every graduate is known to be fluent in diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Opie.
This is not the easy thing to do, but it’s why integrity is important in leadership and why some may feel it’s difficult to achieve. This is not something one gains from a book or even an article. It takes work to balance ethics and honesty, as well as building trust in an organization. But when it is achieved, it creates a strong leader with a focused workforce that is ready to bring the business to the next level.