These elements certainly matter, but there’s another trait that just might trump everything else for success. Integrity.
Here are five reasons why integrity is so important:
1. Your team depends on you.
As the leader for your organization, you provide the strategic vision for your organization. Everything that happens in daily operations ideally is centered around that vision, thereby dictating how every team member spends their time. Additionally, most entrepreneurs maintain a good workforce in part by offering incentives, such as flexible hours and bonuses.
When you lack integrity and don’t follow your word, team members can easily become confused about what you want. Productivity can slow and conflicts might erupt as workers try to decipher their purpose. They become less able to make personal plans such as vacations or saving, and subsequently, they become frustrated and resentful.
Having integrity, by contrast, offers team members clear direction and stable footing.
2. You need to create a stable network.
Part of being successful as an entrepreneur is making connections with people who can support you with knowledge, wisdom, or other resources, either right away or in the future. Establishing and maintaining those connections, however, depends largely on trust.
If you seem lukewarm in what you say and do, or if you go back on your word, the people you could depend on to keep you going likely won’t want to deal with you personally or professionally.
Operating with integrity, however, makes it more likely that others will rally around, enter into agreements with and recommend you, because most people translate trustworthiness into reduced risk.
3. It’s easier (and less expensive) to maintain a reputation than to repair one.
When you have integrity, team members tend to be satisfied in their work, and team member of turnover stays low. Similarly, clients are loyal and become great word-of-mouth advertisers, because they know that, at a bare minimum, your products or services will remain reliable.
When you break your word or act immorally, though, team members are more likely to jump ship, if only to try to get ahead of a company scandal and maintain greater economic stability for themselves. Buyers might go more readily to your competitors, as well, preferring what they stand for over your lack of judgement.
4. Unification promotes higher degrees of innovation.
One meaning for integrity is wholeness or unity.
On a personal level, this can be applied to mean that, when you have integrity, you’re not afraid to look in the mirror. You regularly perform critical self-analysis, finding both strengths and weaknesses, and you have an excellent sense of the person you are and could be.
That understanding can give you the confidence to move forward in highly creative ways, even when others tell you you’re crazy.
On a broader business level, team members who see your integrity likely will learn to trust your leadership. As a result, they might be more willing to set differences aside, embracing a more team-oriented way of working simply because they want to do everything they can for you. Rallying together and pooling everyone’s knowledge and skills supports an environment in which staff members come up with more or better ideas and solve problems faster.
5. Integrity can make you unique.
Savvy business people work hard to differentiate themselves from competitors by providing features or assistance that’s not available anywhere else. In fact, the heart of any entrepreneur’s business proposal is an explanation of what separates them from “the other guys.”
With this in mind, integrity isn’t an easy-to-come-by trait in the corporate world.
Dozens of companies fold under stories of affairs, fraud, unsafe work conditions, broken laws and more, so much so that people almost accept it as commonplace. Thus, when services, products, quality and price all are similar, your integrity might be the one factor that pushes shareholders, lenders, employees and buyers over to your side of the fence.
Traits like thinking outside the box and having passion are critical for entrepreneurs who want to get ahead in business.
Integrity, however, is even more important. In fact, it might be the most significant factor that determines whether you’ll make it in the competitive marketplace. It has the capacity to secure a supportive network, distinguish you from other businesses, promote teamwork that fosters innovation and much more.
For this reason, evaluate your integrity status each time you try to launch a new business, or simply when you enter your office each day.
You may find that, by adhering more closely to a good moral compass, reaching your goals is far easier than you might have anticipated.