Integrity, The No. 1 Leadership Quality
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”(Abraham Lincoln)
Leadership as one of the most widely discussed and debated topics is also one of the most demanding sports activities for any individual, regarding leadership as a sports activity. A leader has to be fit both mentally and physically, having the capability of combining both spurts and long-distance activities into leadership practices.
Expectations upon leaders are manifold. In today´s corporate world, leaders are often evaluated through corporate surveys and employee feedback questionnaires/ discussions, also called 360 degree feedback reviews. Politicians receive feedback through media and from voters. At least in democratic states where freedom of speech exists, where all citizens have equal possibilities, and equal human rights.
The importance of leadership is emphasized through the amount of discussion around, and research upon the topic, well-known journals and other media regularly publishing articles upon, and lists about, desired and important leadership qualities. Try to find a list of the most highly valued leadership qualities excluding INTEGRITY. Let me know if you can find one. I have not until this day.
A quick Google search with the keywords “integrity synonyms” gives the following top result:
1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
“a gentleman of complete integrity”
|synonyms:||honesty, uprightness, probity, rectitude, honour, honourableness, upstandingness, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, nobility, high-mindedness, right-mindedness, noble-mindedness, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness
“I never doubted his integrity”
2. the state of being whole and undivided.
“upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty”
|synonyms:||unity, unification, wholeness, coherence, cohesion, undividedness, togetherness, solidarity, coalition
“internal racial unrest threatened the integrity of the federation”
- the condition of being unified or sound in construction.
“the structural integrity of the novel”
|synonyms:||soundness, robustness, strength, sturdiness, solidity, solidness, durability, stability, stoutness, toughness
“the structural integrity of the aircraft”
- internal consistency or lack of corruption in electronic data.
WHY is integrity such an important leadership quality?
Top reasons for this:
- Integrity is morally and ethically correct behavior
- Integrity is human
- Integrity is democratic
- Integrity is highly valued by all human and democratic individuals
- Integrity is authentic, truthful and honest
- Integrity is not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk
- Integrity is a part of any individual´s moral compass, and a tool for making not only things right, but also making the right things
- Integrity is an essential part of conscious, ethical leadership, preventing immoral actions such as corruption, and enhancing transparency
- Leaders with integrity are more concerned with the common goal than their personal ambition
Suggested further reading:
EY – Growing Beyond: a place for integrity. 12th Global Fraud Survey.
George, B. 2007. True North. Discover your Authentic Leadership.
Transparency International. The Global Coalition Against Corruption. Publications.
“Just as a compass points toward a magnetic field, your True North pulls you toward the purpose of your leadership. When you follow your internal compass, your leadership will be authentic, and people will naturally want to associate with you. Although others may guide or influence you, your truth is derived from your life story and only you can determine what it should be.”
(True North, From the Introduction).
“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.” (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
“In countries where innocent people are dying, leaders are following blood rather than brains.” (Nelson Mandela)