13 insights on leading with integrity

integrityAfter my last newsletter on ETNZ and Dean Barker’s leadership and teamwork, I received some fairly consistent feedback from you. You liked how Dean led his team and despite the outcome, you still view him as a winner and hold him in high regard.

The more vexing question you asked me was the relationship between integrity and leadership in the aftermath of the mayoral race.

Some common feelings and questions included:

• How am I meant to feel about someone in a public trust role who I voted in and who has demonstrated a breach in integrity?
• Can someone who has demonstrated a lack of integrity in one area of life be trusted to show integrity in other areas of life?
• How can someone who has demonstrated integrity and then behaved dishonestly return to a state of integrity again?
• There has been such a betrayal of trust by someone I voted because I thought he made a good leader.
• Does power seduce those in high office or is it that a certain type of individual drawn to these positions?
• How do we know when someone has integrity or not?

No doubt you will all be making up your own mind about how you answer these and other questions.

Here are my top 13 points on integrity – leader or not.

What is integrity?

• Integrity is not a “turn-on and turn-off switch; it’s about character as demonstrated through our behaviours.

• Integrity embraces values of honesty, responsibility, accountability, loyalty and self-awareness.

Having integrity

• 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 “siloed competency” where you tick off certain behaviours to pass the integrity test. It is not an act but an inside-out way of being. It has been said that a true test of character is how we behave when no one is watching.

• 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 that we first take full responsibility for our behavior and secondly that we genuinely try and clean things up as soon as we can.

• Coming clean about indiscretions when you are about to be found out will be perceived as more self-serving and strategic; not necessarily contrite behavior borne of genuine remorse, guilt and the desire to put things right for the right reasons.

Integrity and trust

• Integrity engenders trust. We bestow trust on people we see being true to their word consistently 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.

Leadership growth

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.

Jasbindar Singh is a leadership coach and psychologist and an accredited user of the Integrity and values profiling tool. Contact her if you would like to become more aware of your leadership blind spots and are keen to grow and develop your leadership.


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