“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”
Then, Charlie Munger, Buffett’s longtime partner and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, piped in, “If this gives you a little temporary unpopularity with your peer group, the hell with ’em.”
When my sons were in high school, I had an artist make little signs that I hung on their bedroom doors with expressions such as:
Tell the Truth
It always amazed me that they left them on their doors to this day. They could have taken them down. But I used to say to them “the most important thing was to tell the truth.” When you can’t trust someone, it is hard to have a strong relationship. You might love them and like them, but if you can’t trust them, the foundation falls out from under all conversations. I also used to say being smart is important (and being cute was a bonus), but being honest was most important. And I believe this is true personally as well as professionally.
Since leadership is a relationship, integrity (adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty) matters. Giving constructive feedback is tough as a manager, teacher, or parent. I like the mantra: Honesty with kindness. We don’t have to be mean when giving feedback because the goal should be to learn and improve.
There is a plethora of leadership books and articles talking about the characteristics leaders need to have to be successful. But according to Buffett it is simple: Real leaders have integrity.
Think about some people you trust and some whom you don’t trust.
What is the difference?
How does it affect relationships?
How does trust or lack of trust affect the culture?
How does trust affect how work gets done?
As a leader, what are you doing to build trust in your organization?
So whenever he imparts his wisdom, you want to tune in. As it relates to hiring the right people for your company, he said:
Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.