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The 16 Days of Competencies: #1 Displays High Integrity and Honestyby zengerfolkman September 21, 2011

As featured in the article "Making Yourself Indispensable" published in the October 2011 issue of Harvard Business Review.


Today, Harvard Business Review published an article titled, Making Yourself Indispensible, by Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman—co-authors of The Inspiring Leader and principals of the leadership development company, Zenger Folkman.


After years of extensive research, we at Zenger Folkman have identified 16 core leadership competencies that set highly effective leaders apart from the rest. We call these The 16 Differentiating Competencies.  Our research proves that if you possess a strength in even one of The 16 Differentiating Competencies, you’re more likely to be perceived as one of the outstanding leaders in your organization. Possess two or three strengths, and you’re on your way to becoming an extraordinary leader.

Over the next 16 days we will open discussions about each of these competencies and how to develop them.

Today’s discussion will focus on the first competency:

1. Displays High Integrity and Honesty

A few behaviors defining this competency:

  • Avoid saying one thing and doing another (i.e., walk the talk)
  • Follow through on promises and commitments
  • Model the core values
  • Lead by example

Are you able to communicate bad news to your boss? Do you confront difficult problems directly and promptly? Are you assertive enough to stand up for what you believe, even if it is not the popular position?

Leaders who have High Integrity and Honesty have a significant impact within organizations. They convey an attitude of concern and caring and answer questions truthfully. They don’t over-promise. They create and promote a culture of trust that contributes to the success of individuals, teams and the organization as a whole.

Displays High Integrity and Honesty
Is this a strength or weakness for your leaders?
How has it impacted your career? Organization?

We encourage you to share your thoughts, stories or questions about this competency, below in the comments section.


4 Comments on “The 16 Days of Competencies: #1 Displays High Integrity and Honesty”

  1. Kelley says:

    In our organization we see the gamut of different types of leaders and leading styles. Most are willing to listen to us in middle management about what we believe would improve our practices. But we do have one whom we all find difficult to approach, even to clarify protocol. It makes it extremely hard to be sure if one is doing what is expected by our partners. It leaves some of us wondering if she wants us to be less than we could be, if she truly just doesn’t know her job as well as she should or perhaps she just doesn’t know how to communicate well.

  2. Frank Daley says:

    This will be valuable. It reminds me of the book “Succeed on your Own Terms” by Herb Greenberg and Patrick Sweeney who define success through 14 qualities.
    As your study indicates, you won’t have all of these qualities but if you have even a few, you (unfortunately for our society!), will be ahead of most leaders.
    The first two mentioned above are really two sides of one coin. “Walking the talk” has to be connected to having made good choices in the first place. Lots of people walk the wrong talk.
    However well you have planned or stated what you want to do, life will always impose changes. That doesn’t imply a lack of (controllable) follow-through on your part.

  3. […] your organization – or with specific individuals, you must go first. Offer them trust.  Be more trustworthy.  Waiting for others to take the lead, could be a long wait.  Extend and offer trust first.  […]

  4. VideoPortal says:

    Dan, long time. It is hard to argue against any of these 16 competencies, the trick is exhibiting them when the time presents itself. In the competency research and training I have done over the years, it is always surprising how unique competencies are in each organization. The key is knowing which competencies work in your organization. Don t assume all of these 16 apply to leaders in all organizations.

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