Gen Y, Helping Us Rediscover the Centrality of Integrity – Insight from Bette Price

Bette Price

Bette Price is a good writer, and a thorough researcher.  (She also attends the First Friday Book Synopsis, and has since we began in 1998).

Her earlier book, co-authored with George Ritcheske, was True Leaders: How Exceptional CEOs and Presidents Make a Difference by Building People and Profits.  The subtitle says it all:  leaders build people as well as profits.

She has spent this most recent chapter of her life paying attention to Gen Y.  And when I say “paying attention,” I mean she has delved deeply into this group, learning just what they are like, what they like, what matters to them.  A few days ago, Investors Business Daily focused on one of her key findings in the article Gen Y’s Integrity Focus by Steve Watkins.  In the article, he quotes extensively from Bette.  Here are some key excerpts:

The future of America’s leadership may be better than you think. The up-and-comers rank integrity high among qualities they desire in leaders. Ways companies can benefit from that:

• Appeal to priorities. Dallas-based consulting firm Price Group conducted a recent survey of people age 20 to 30. They had to be in college, graduated or working.
“Trust and integrity permeated through the entire research,” Price told IBD. “Their value profile was almost identical to the ‘true leader’ profile I had done a few years ago.”

Keep the faith. It’s vital for this younger group to feel trusted. The survey showed that three-fourths made a point of not wanting to be micromanaged, which is a sign of distrust, Price says; 88% strongly said they wanted to work for a supervisor they could trust.

Win back their confidence. “This generation is the most cynical ever,” said Michael Josephson, president of the institute. That finding backs up the Price Group survey.

Retain your talent. People turn cynical if they expect leaders to be trustworthy but they turn out not to be. Result? The exit.  “If they feel there isn’t trust, they’ll probably leave,” Price said.

Be honest. One woman told Price that she opted not to interview with a firm when she saw that some information on its Web site contradicted what a recruiter had told her.
“They want to know what reality is and base their decision off that,” Price said. “Integrity is huge.”

Send a message. Make it clear that your company does things the right way and won’t tolerate cheating or stealing. Show that you’ll fire people if they violate those tenets.

Set an example. You can’t expect your people to operate with integrity if the leaders don’t. Display the behavior you want others to show.
“The best way to fuel cynicism is to be a false prophet,” Josephson said. “Dishonest companies will generate dishonesty.”

Open up. Be upfront with your people. Price says one guy in the survey said his boss called him in to discuss a project. All was fine. But when the guy got back to his desk, the boss had sent him an e-mail criticizing him.
The guy thought, “‘How can I trust him when he won’t even say anything to my face?'” Price said.

My comment:  integrity really is the coin of the realm.  But examples of denial and cutting corners and outright dishonesty abound.  It would be nice to have a generation help us all rediscover the centrality of integrity.

Back to Bette Price:  When Bette tackles a subject, she genuinely becomes an expert.  If you need come help understanding, relating to, and working with Gen Y folks, you might want to tap into Bette’s expertise.  Here’s her website.

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