The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

EXPRESS INTEGRITY WHEN FACING (AND OVERCOMING) ADVERSITY


When faced with difficult decisions, we all must make choices that are well thought-out and that lead to a planned “end point.”  When given a choice, far too many individuals take the path of least resistance – one that might appear to be more popular – rather than taking “the high road” wherever it may lead.  Perhaps its time we focused on acting ethically and consistently in our dealings with others (rather than acting out of convenience or in our own best interest).  “Integrity” not an object we can seek nor a destination we can find, it is the keystone to all human interaction – a path to follow as we seek to find meaning and fulfillment in our everyday actions.  Integrity is the “high road” upon which we should travel as we build meaningful, trust-filled relationships.  We must demonstrate integrity if we are to lead others (rather than following them blindly) as we travel through life.  Without integrity we cannot achieve consistency.  A path worth following must be based upon facts that are tempered by personal values which can be expressed openly and honestly to others if we expect it to lead to a predictable (and desirable) destination.  Travelling upon such a path will prove fruitful regardless of the circumstances that influenced your initial decision to embark upon that trail.

“Ethics” has become but a word linked to a particular situation or set of circumstances.  Such a linkage would indicate that one’s values and beliefs change depending upon whom we are with or what the situation in which we find ourselves may be.  In life, our environment and those we are with DO change frequently, BUT our value system – our ethics – cannot drift upon the winds if we are to remain an anchor to those around us.  In order to be a contributing part of the solution rather than a significant part of the problem, our values must serve as a rock-solid set of principles to establish and guide proper conduct. This set of principles should ALWAYS influence our decisions and choices, outwardly determining our actions, if we are to express integrity and establish credibility.  Unless our exhibited actions are natural expressions gained through training, experience, and an application of closely held principles in real life situations, however, those depending upon us for guidance will lose confidence in our choices and fearful of our leadership decisions – often seeking other beacons to lead them from danger.

Making purposeful choices – charting a course and sticking with it as long as it leads towards the destination we have chosen – will help us establish respect.  In order to avoid being more “stubborn” than “purposeful,” however, we should be prepared to change our mind (and potentially change our direction) should the situation around us (OR the facts upon which our initial decision was based) be significantly altered.  In life, the only thing that is certain is change – not the direction of change nor the likelihood of controlling change, only the knowledge that change will (and does) happen so we must be prepared to manage it.  The key to making change purposeful is being able to assess the nature of change and act in a manner that embraces the possibilities it brings rather than closing out the opportunities it generates.

Why would one assume the responsibility and accountability for the results of making decisions at the risk of
highlighting their own individual frailty?  Leaders often find themselves placed in a position to make or break relationships, ensure the success of a venture or institution, or bring about the failure of a dream with every decision they make.  Good leaders typically thrive on “making a difference.”  All of us like taking the credit for things when they “go right.”  A good leader will quietly accept the praise for a job done well (often spreading it graciously over the efforts of a team) but will also willingly assume blame for things that went wrong (often individually, sheltering “the team” from outside criticism).  Such a leader will not accept a negative result as being a “final destination,” rather viewing it as but a resting point along the road to success – an obstacle that must be identified, addressed, and leveraged in a way that adds (rather than detracts) value.  Becoming a good leader requires us to praise loudly while blaming softly.  An individual cannot assume this responsibility when he or she consistently strives for the acceptance of others for such transparency clouds the intent of our thoughts and actions.

As we work together to coexist (and, perhaps even more significantly, to co-contribute to the expression and accomplishment of our dreams), we should focus upon our destination as we move steadfastly towards its accomplishment.  There is never a wrong time to make the right decision in life (NOR a decision that cannot be changed should the situation, facts or circumstances change) as long as we dare to be ourselves.  We must be unafraid to demonstrate the strength of our convictions as we face (and overcome) adversity, guided by our morale compass, if we hope to lead others to safety beyond life’s dangerous and rocky shores.