INTEGRITY: The supreme quality of leadership

integrityFrom time to time, in our personal and professional lives, we come across people and opportunities that seem engaging, exciting and worthy of further exploration.

Sometimes the best things in life are those we stumble upon or that seem to come quite serendipitously out of nowhere!  And indeed, explore we must as new horizons and development only arise through venturing into the unknown, pushing the envelope and taking an “experimental” stance towards such invitations.  As the old saying goes, if we do what we have always done, then we will get what we have always gotten!

At the same time, though, it is worth being mindful of the questions below particularly if going down a path could compromise your integrity.

1) Is this congruent with your role, values and beliefs?

2) Are there any foreseeable values conflict in what the guiding principles of your life and business are and what the new opportunity represents?

3)  Will engaging in this opportunity compromise and tarnish your role, reputation and character in some way?

4) Which of your values and beliefs are non-negotiable?

5) How can you continue to be mindful of this so you don’t find yourself going down a slippery slope of compromises later?

6) Do you know when it is time to walk away?

7) What are the benefits of engaging in this particular project or partnership?  What about the costs?

8) What is your intuition, inner voice or other ‘body signals’ conveying to you about the venture or people involved?  Do you feel reasonably at ease or is there some internal angst and agitation? (You may not have words for what this is yet).

9) What are some questions that remain unanswered? Making a note of these and finding answers for these will certainly help.

We are confronted with situations and challenges – big and small – all the time. As my executive client said the other day, “Given my particular challenge, I could get away with a very expedient solution but the cost of not doing the right thing is too high. My reputation and integrity will be tarnished forever.”

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in the office.
-Dwight D Eisenhower

As we navigate ourselves through our lives, we soon realize that choosing between right and wrong can be fairly straight forward but it’s the choosing between what could  be “right and right” or choosing between two different values both of which you hold dear.  In these instances, we need to consider the whole package and make choices based on what is right for you and or your business right now including the risk you are willing to tolerate.

If peace of mind is a high order value than playing the high stakes game will not work for you. The old Indian sages have espoused the virtues of peace, a calm state of mind and patience with beautiful words like   ‘shanti’ and ‘dheeraj”.  With a multitude of demands coming our way, it is worth being mindful of not just what we are ticking off but the state of mind and presence with which we do things.  This may mean, at times, not rushing into things headlong.  With time, the true nature of things including people gets revealed.  Truth always has a way of coming out.

SQ reflection points:

1)  What is a decision you have to make which might benefit from some further gestation, reflection and or investigation?

2) How do you walk the fine line so no matter what your integrity and values stay intact and support you?

3) What personality trait or competing value might block you from seeing things more objectively?

Bear in mind, no matter how tempting, one thing money can’t buy is integrity.

As a leader, you cannot compromise your integrity in a significant area of your life be it personal or business and then hold yourself ‘squeaky clean’ in the other.

The value of integrity = Priceless.

Jasbindar Singh is a coaching psychologist working with managers and leaders to enhance their self awareness and leadership effectiveness. She is also accredited in the powerful Integrity and Values profiling tool to help her clients identify their strengths and integrity blind spots.

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