Integrity in Leadership
Relationships, whether familial or business, are only as good as the foundation upon which they are built. We will be only looking at integrity within business. If you study great leaders, one great characteristic that is constant in each leader is integrity. Great leaders are found doing what is right regardless of the circumstances. If you research great leadership qualities, in each study you will find a list of characteristics common for leadership.
Common on these lists are:• Great communication skills
• Ability to motivate others
• Ability to influence others
• Self-knowledge and confidence
• Possess wisdom and knowledge
• Integrity, character, and honesty
Providing great leadership is not always easy. Neither is leading with integrity. That is why courage and wisdom are consistently included on the leadership inventory list. To quote Theodore Roosevelt, “To educate a man in mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” To summarize, knowledge and wisdom can be dangerous if the integrity piece is missing.
Integrity is often defined as a steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code as well as freedom from corrupting influence or motive. Many researchers submit that people and corporations are living outside of integrity because so much of our society is more outer-directed than inner-directed.
Being inner-directed is important in the realm of integrity because it gives a person the stamina to speak out against the crowd. And in corporate or political America it is usually easier to go-along to get-along. Outer-directed people are afraid to be different because there is often the comfort of “safety in numbers”.
The greatest risk we face when we operate as people, companies, or a nation operating out of integrity is the loss of trust. Loss of trust breeds suspicion and cynicism. There is no greater example than in politics today. There are large numbers of people on either side of the political spectrum and then an even larger number of people within the middle. These are the people whose voices need to be heard but many times they are lacking the confidence or conviction to speak their truths.
Integrity comes to us over time. It is not something we are born with but is something that develops out of our experiences and influences over time. With this in mind we can determine to experience living inside of integrity as a journey to be taken. Think about some of the most ethical people for whom you have worked or with whom you have worked. Think about the traits and skills these people possess. Determine to make the most of your life by emulating them and also by mentoring others along the way.