Integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral values. The most important principle of leadership is dependent on integrity, because it demands truthfulness and honesty. Integrity means telling the truth even if the truth is ugly. Better to be honest than to deceive others and delude yourself.
Integrity in its essence means adherence to principles. It’s a three-step process: first, choosing the right course of conduct; second, acting consistently with the choice – even when it is uncomfortable to do so; and third, openly declaring where one stands. It is important to know that integrity and honesty are not synonymous. One can be honest without having integrity, but it is not possible to have integrity without honesty. Hypocrisy is the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s behavior does not coincide – a façade or pretense.
The four most common elements needed to develop trust are competence, reliability, integrity and communication. Relationships must be built on trust, and all of these elements are necessary to create the trust for a sustainable and successful collaboration. RIAs have a fiduciary duty to their clients, which means they have a fundamental obligation to provide investment advice that always acts in their clients' best interests. The highest duty of one party to another, being a fiduciary requires being bound ethically to act in the other's best interests.
Integrity is more than your mission statement or value proposition – it is what will set you apart as a trusted leader. As you may be considering the next steps in your business, whether it’s an internal succession plan, a plan to grow organically or through merging or acquiring, how will your clients, team, stakeholders, and community describe you? Have you earned the right to be their trusted advisor?