Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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True Leaders Know That The Truth Is Non-Negotiable!

What do you think of when you hear the word: integrity?

Someone who always speaks the truth? Or someone who always does the right thing? Or perhaps, for you, it is more personal. And the image of a loved one or dear friend who spoke truth to power and stood by you through challenging times comes to mind.
Or perhaps, you struggle to think of a specific person altogether.

As a teen, there were several people on TV whom I thought modeled integrity. – Such as newscasters, actresses, and athletes who seemed to lead idyllic lives that I admired. Perhaps, it was the same for you. Indeed, a few years ago, the word: integrity, might have conjured up images of your favorite celebrity! But today, for many of us, words such as integrity and media/ institutions/ public figures do not belong in the same sentence. I often wonder why. After all, public figures are humans like everyone else. And institutions are made up of humans. Right? If so, why does the person featured in a magazine article seem so different from the next-door neighbor? – This is worth pondering!

And if you give this some serious thought, you might conclude that few are worthy of admiration. Because with constant news updates on increasing crime rates, broken relationships, and failing institutions, what we read and watch often paints a gloomy picture of the state of humanity.

But it is worth remembering that in our fast-paced world, where a deluge of information hits the public daily from multiple sources, there is an unquenchable desire to get the attention of readers and viewers. And what better way to get attention than by feeding negative news? Because, as the National Academy of Sciences found, humans have a bias toward negative news over positive news. SOURCE: https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2019-09-05/why-people-respond-to-negative-news. – It seems humans are more attracted to seeing and hearing the negative than the positive. And the media seems to cater to this tendency!

However, headlines are not always representative of what is happening amongst the majority. Indeed the average person is not strolling on the street looking for any opportunity to do the wrong thing and hurt others. On the contrary, most people have an innate desire to contribute and leave their mark on the world. Indeed, many people want to succeed and provide value. And knowing this is important because this realization can awaken a desire in us to model the right behaviors – to serve and to lead. And to do so, it is vital to know what enables a person to make a positive impact.

Before we go further, let’s address a common hesitation!
Upon reading this, you might be thinking: I would like to believe there are many people with good intentions, but I have met many people in positions of authority with corrupt motives and intentions. Therefore, I keep my shield up! – And if that is your inclination, I understand your concern because many have misused their authority and influence. But I would also offer that the world is not full of people whose sole desire is to rob everyone who crosses their path. On the contrary, society is a web of imperfect people seeking their way. And each of us is a thread in the tapestry.

Therefore the worthy questions are: What can set one apart? And what can enable one to use their superpowers to thrive and propel others? – And the answer is the quality we all desire to see connected to our names during announcements, featured in our biographies, and engraved on our epitaphs. – Integrity!

And this begs the question: What is integrity?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, integrity is the firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values. This definition sounds fancy! 😉 So, let’s break it down further by looking at the first synonym of integrity – Honesty! SOURCE – Integrity Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster.

Ironically, when we consider that having integrity means being honest, it makes this seemingly grandiose trait more attainable. Because we realize that amidst our mistakes, fears, weaknesses, and imperfections, we can display integrity. Yes, indeed! And this reminds me of one of my early introductions to the concept of integrity.

I attended high school in an international school in Rome, Italy. And one of the teachers I appreciated most was my International Business and History teacher, a spitfire and adventurous woman from Boston. – She was a force to reckon with because she had a strong work ethic! And one of the things that stood out most to me about her was her high expectation for research papers, specifically, citing sources. When students failed to include appropriate citations, she would duct five points from their scores. And unfortunately, some fell prey to this phenomenon in her class and viewed her as unfair and mean-spirited. And while I also felt the penalty was extreme, I deduced a profound message from her actions. And the message was centered on the importance of integrity!

By adhering to such a strict grading approach regarding citing sources, she taught us that insights are most valuable when we build on the ideas of others – acknowledging and giving credit to those who sparked and spurred them. – And she was more interested in her student’s ability to learn from others and develop concepts than in them, posing as the originator of a worthwhile concept. Now, that is a powerful lesson!

And this message is just as pivotal today! Because across verticals and industries, we hear about the work that others have produced being used without acknowledgment or stolen for selfish and personal gain. And as a leader, it is critical to watch out for this behavior because, when unaddressed, this negative behavior can break down the fibers of teamwork and trust in an organization.
But when leaders model honesty and uphold a high bar of integrity, the bonds of trust are fortified, employee motivation increases, and productivity is enabled.

Reflect and Imagine

Leaders set the standard in the organization by what they do. And a person with integrity admits wrongdoing and acknowledges others’ efforts by asking for help and giving credit when it is due.

Who has helped you see a different perspective? Consider giving them credit – publicly. Perhaps at the next team meeting? Or in an email to the team or their direct manager?

And it’s worth remembering that integrity is not always visible through grand acts. – Each of us can display integrity every day through small actions. And thereby model the act of leadership!

For you and to you,




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