Leadership and integrity go hand in hand. When we see evidence of a lack of integrity whether it is in our political, business, community or family leaders, we feel dismayed, let down, disbelief and even outrage.
Given the current events involving our political leaders, I thought it timely to re-visit this topic.
What is integrity?
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• Integrity is not a “turn-on and turn-off” switch; it’s about character and intent as demonstrated through our behaviours. One can say their behaviour was a slip-up or oversight, but when there is a consistent pattern of high-stakes, questionable behavior then something deeper is at play.
• Integrity embraces values of honesty, responsibility, accountability, loyalty and self-awareness.
• Being clear about your values and operating out of these values consistently demonstrates integrity. In other words, demonstrating in your daily actions the values that you espouse and hold dear.
• Being in integrity means being our word. Integrity happens moment by moment in the interactions we have and the decisions we make.
• Integrity is not a silo competency, where you tick off certain behaviours to pass the integrity test. It is not an act but an inside-out way of being. Tests of character include how we behave when no one is watching, and to those much less powerful than ourselves.
• Who we are and our integrity pervades everything we do. There is no artificial division between work and home when one’s integrity comes into question.
Being out of Integrity
• We are fallible human beings and we make mistakes. The point is not that we make mistakes from time to time, but more what happens and how we deal with it when we do.
• Having integrity means, firstly, that we take full responsibility for our behavior; and secondly, that we genuinely try and clean things up as soon as we can.
• Denial, arrogance, hitting back harder or coming clean about indiscretions only when you are about to be found out gets seen as coming from the same self-serving and strategic root cause; rather than contrite behavior borne of genuine remorse and guilt or the desire to put things right for the right reasons.
Integrity and trust
• Integrity engenders trust. We bestow trust on people we see being consistently true to their word and behaving in a way expected of their role.
• Trust takes time to build and seconds to destroy. Broken trust and a sense of betrayal can be one of the most challenging realities to come to terms with.
Integrity and leadership
Integrity and leadership go hand in glove.
• Integrity takes courage. Self-honesty is a key place to start. Unless we are honest with ourselves, it is almost impossible to be honest with others.
Challenging times lead to growth. Leaders are already in a fishbowl and scrutinized more than most. The catch is that because they are so busy and surrounded by people telling them how good/effective/wonderful they are already, they don’t take the necessary time to reflect on deeper issues, including whether their behaviour is aligned to their ROLE, purpose, vision, values and intent.
A public embarrassment or personal crisis can be the beginnings of an honest appraisal on a path to greater leadership growth and development. This involves going deep and being willing to look at one’s identity, and being open to move past defensive attitude and behaviours.
In the words of a wise person – sometimes our mistakes are a greater call of the soul to course-correct to become more whole and a better person again!
Jasbindar Singh is a leadership coach and business psychologist. Contact her on 027 280 3335 if you would like to grow and develop your leadership further.