Exceptional Leaders are People of Integrity

I was recently asked to speak to a group of business leaders in Florida on the topic of Integrity. This character trait is often sited as a critical success factor in the people we seek to employ. Some leaders have said that without Integrity all other success factors are null and void. I tend to agree with that statement, but I do so based on my own beliefs and values which form my definition of Integrity.

Integrity, simply means “wholeness”. One has integrity to the extent they behave according to the beliefs and principles they claim to hold. So you see, a person can be a person of integrity and still do some pretty despicable things that are consistent with their own beliefs and values. That has become apparent to me on numerous occasions as I have witnessed people behaving in ways that are not only opposed to my own, but to the larger norms of the company or their society in general.

So, one’s beliefs and values determine their Integrity. I happen to hold to a Christian worldview that defines Integrity as living in accordance with personal convictions that are based on an understanding of God’s purposes for creation, humankind, and for me as one of his followers. As I continue to study the Bible I have come to believe that these are pretty high standards and present a challenge to strive for.

So I have a few questions for you:

  • What do you believe?
  • Why do you believe it?
  • What kinds of behaviors do your beliefs demand of you?
  • Have you come to recognize your own vulnerability to violate those beliefs, and if so what are you doing to minimize that likelihood?
  • How do the answers to these questions shape your definition of Integrity?
  • Is that definition of integrity shared by those you report to, to the extent that you are comfortable reporting to them?
  • To those from whom you demand integrity, do they share your understanding of the definition you have given it, and have they agreed to abide by it?
  • Have you made your definition clear to them so they have clear guidelines or principles upon which to act and perform their duties?

If you haven’t already taken your company through an exercise of values discovery, now would be a good time to do so. If you already have your corporate values defined and posted on the wall somewhere, maybe it’s time to revisit them and make sure their is alignment around what they mean and what they demand.

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