Warren Buffett is renowned for his investing wisdom, but many of his most successful investments are in people. As Buffett once said, “I really have only two jobs. One is to attract and keep outstanding managers to run our various operations.”
Attracting and keeping outstanding managers starts with one clear prerequisite. Buffett explains:
“We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity.”
Take a hint as to which of the three Buffett prioritizes first. In his own words, “If they don’t have [integrity], the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.”
Without integrity, intelligence, drive, energy will only get you so far. Hiring without it is also a big business risk.
Why integrity matters
Psychologist and best-selling author Henry Cloud wrote the book on why integrity matters and sheds good light on the topic. In Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, he says, “Who a person is will ultimately determine if their brains, talents, competencies, energy, effort, deal-making abilities, and opportunities will succeed.”
As you learn and adapt to all aspects of your integrity, you’ll eventually arrive at a point where it becomes easier to develop trust, repair a relationship after a conflict, listen with empathy, or give critical feedback to build someone up.
The ability to connect authentically with others and the ability to be oriented toward the truth are two non-negotiable parts of a person with integrity. In essence, this is someone who will leverage both abilities to operate from honesty, embrace change, reject wrongdoing, and get real results for meaningful purposes.
When we don’t have the capacity to intentionally live out of our own integrity, it will have an adverse effect on us functionally and relationally. To avert disaster, try putting these strategies into daily practice.
1. Be accessible
A person of integrity keeps the lines of communication open with everyone in the organization. He or she gives access for others to express concerns or raise questions that can be addressed in a timely fashion. He or she knows that open and honest communication is not only the ethical thing to do; it’s what builds trust and increases value so work gets done efficiently, and without barriers, bureaucracy, or politics.
2. Be your word
Do you practice what you preach? Follow through on your promises or commitments? Leaders walking the talk deliver on “doing the right thing” and set a good example. Of course, they allow room for mistakes and failure (they’re human, after all), but they hold themselves accountable to a high standard absent of outside influences.
3. Be true to yourself
How would you feel if, every day, you said what you meant, stayed true to yourself, and behaved in accordance with this? Imagine the self-respect you’d feel. Being true to yourself is far less stressful than being someone you are not. By being who you really are, you not only trust the judgments and decisions that you make, but others trust you as well. They’ll respect you for standing by your values and beliefs.