In survey after survey people identify integrity as the most essential quality needed for successful leadership
. While it involves character qualities like honesty and good ethics, integrity is something more; it is a mindset, a way of life. Leaders often forget that one is not really a leader without followers. Some will follow their leader regardless of inconsistencies in his or her walk and talk. But weak integrity tends to have a cumulative effect that slowly undermines the loyalty of even the most faithful.
People’s trust in their leader’s decisions and directions depends on their sense of that leader’s overall integrity. When managers and others in positions of leadership fail to understand this they foolishly believe that by shouting their orders with a little more force or by firing a few more people the rest will become a team and accomplish his goals. If for no other reason than the results, good leaders understand the power of an air of integrity in their leadership.
Things to remember when seeking to lead with:
- Step away every potential decision before you make it and consider it objectively. It’s easy to surrender to the drama of the game: plotting, planning, meeting, executing business plans, meeting deadlines, and sometimes just having to be one who is right. Allowing that drama to rule one’s life inevitably leads to sacrificing integrity for the expedient.
- Shortsightedness leads to a “winner takes all” mentality that fails to take into account the long-term effects of short-cutting one’s foundation of integrity. The quick decision may gain the immediate results wanted but ultimately undermine any future hope of trust and loyalty.
- When making decisions, gather your information from every possible perspective: the engaged super-workers, the potentially engaged newbie, and even the out-of-sorts old hat who is inching cautiously toward retirement. Employees do not demand a boss agree with or enact everything they suggest. They just want to see a boss with the integrity to honestly listen before making decisions.
- Most leaders don’t tolerate bending the rule in their employees or those beneath them. A key component to leading with integrity is to never demand of others what one does not demand one’s self.
- Resist the temptations power and authority tend to foster. Many leaders and decision-makers tend to work in an insulated and often isolated environment. Weak leaders tend to surround themselves with “yes men” who only say what they want to hear. The result is a prevailing wind of overconfidence, privilege and advantage that is the breeding ground for a host of unethical decision.
“Above all aim for solutions and harmony, objectivity and detachment. Facilitate rather than influence. Help, don’t sell. Diffuse situations – find common ground – don’t polarize or inflame. Not only will you be able to sleep at nights but you also stand a chance of leaving a real legacy – someone who is remembered and respected in your community and beyond for a very long time! – Wendy Mason (Managerial Coach)
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