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Treat Your Team Like the Adults They Are

Integrity defined: Doing what is good, right and proper even at personal cost.

It’s amazing what happens when you treat people like adults. They tend to behave that way! Unfortunately, instead of expecting Integrity, a micromanager settles for enforcing Integrity. In too many situations, leaders micromanage their team’s decisions and find out that their team has been hiding things from them. The sad outcome is this: A leader’s lack of trust in the people they lead can create the exact behaviors the leader is trying to avoid.

In my twenty-year career in the corporate world, I had multiple opportunities to take over established teams. Early in my tenure, I sometimes caught a good person in a lie. But the truth was, they weren’t always outright lies. For example, they might simply neglect to tell me when they took personal time. Either way, however, they made a choice which damaged their Integrity, and therefore it damaged trust between us.

I realized it was my Duty to give them clarity on what Integrity I expected from them. I decided I would treat them like adults. I let them know, “If you have to leave early to drive to an away soccer game for your kid, that is fine. All I ask, is to let me know. If you need to do a few personal errands in the middle of the day—also just let me know. Or if you need to take a half day to catch up on admin, we can make that work too. Just do one thing—let me know.”

An amazing thing happened when I trusted their Integrity without micromanaging their decisions. They actually handled their freedom with Integrity.

When we expect Integrity, we rarely need to enforce it. Anytime they called me to let me know they needed time off, I never told them, “No.” There was no need to. Why? Because they were already making good decisions. I’ve been happy to say, based on my experience, that those who are given trust, act with Integrity and still get their work done.