Quality #1: Honesty

    Quote from Forbes Article:

    Whatever ethical plane you hold yourself to, when you are responsible for a team of people, its important to raise the bar even higher. Your business and its employees are a reflection of yourself, and if you make honest and ethical behavior a key value, your team will follow suit.

    As we do at Onevest, the crowdfunding platform for entrepreneurs and small businesses I co-founded, try to make a list of values and core beliefs that both you and your brand represent, and post this in your office. Promote a healthy interoffice lifestyle, and encourage your team to live up to these standards. By emphasizing these standards, and displaying them yourself, you will hopefully influence the office environment into a friendly and helpful workspace.

    I think this is an ultimately essential quality of a leader. We all know leaders who are corrupt, and that is almost precisely the moment they stop being our heroes. They become almost worse than villains, because they are the ones who pretend to be good, but are really bad guys.

    To me, the key phrase in this is the following statement: Your business and its employees are a reflection of yourself, and if you make honest and ethical behavior a key value, your team will follow suit. Do they observe you on the phone with your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend, telling them you’re headed out the door, only to spend another 20 minutes chatting with staff? Then don’t be surprised if they tell you they met with that important client when in reality they just left them a voicemail. You’ve taught them that little white lies are ok.

    I love that that statement recognizes that YOU must make honesty a priority in YOUR life, and then – and only then – will your staff begin to do the same. Some people say, “do what I say, not what I do”, but great leaders realize that they must lead by example. Staff will reflect the actions and culture of their leader.

    Once upon a time, when Accel had first started up, one of the original investors was my grandmother. She had lent us something like $50,000 in seed money, and for a long period of time, we were not able to pay her back on a regular basis because, of course, every business has its tough times. We chipped away at it here or there, but at some point we stopped paying because we just couldn’t afford to. We hadn’t paid a penny in probably 3-4 years, and she had completely forgotten that the money was owed to her. But things were starting to get better financially, and we could finally afford to pay her back. I knew for certain she had forgotten about the loan, or had assumed we had fully paid it back, but I knew that it was not right to just let it slide. So one day, I took a check for the full amount, and drove unannounced to my grandparents house. I presented my grandmother with the full balance due, along with a detailed document outlining all our payments in the past, and showing her how the balance reconciled perfectly. She was so grateful for that payment, as they had actually been in need of some money, and this was perfect timing for them. It was touching to know that being honest with our debts blessed someone so near to me. It is one of my favorite memories of my grandmother, and now that she’s gone, I know that I was able to do the right thing, and make good on her investment in us.