We are each responsible for our own integrity; the best leaders create cultures that nourish the integrity of others.
It is after we have contemplated our own actions, evaluating how they align with our personal values, intentions, and deeds, that we are most likely to make a contribution of integrity to the world.
In its root, the word is integrity, to integer and integration, speaks of unity and wholeness. We still think of the word in this original sense when we talk about “structural integrity,” the quality that enables a building to stand and that, when lost, lets a building collapse under its own weight.
“Integrity is the ability to listen to the place inside oneself that doesn’t change, even though the life that carries it may change. Rabbi Jonathon Omer-Man
Most of us evolve and develop throughout our journey as leaders. But, our character and our integrity are the currency by which we conduct ourselves.
Having integrity leads to better organizational trust as we practice honest conversations with others. Integrity is a positive emotional deposit in the bank of our connections.
Trust is an inherit part of integrity. People have to trust that leadership is serving everyone’s best interest and leadership has to trust that team members are fulfilling their own responsibilities.
How do we lead with better integrity?
Doing what we say we will do- This is a more realistic definition of integrity and a basic practice of a great leader. It includes keeping promises and meeting important deadlines. Succeeding at this requires you to walk the talk every time!
Doing the right thing- This is the obligation of the right action. That means embodying our principles — and accepting the consequences for our actions.
Taking responsibility- Acknowledge our complete, sole responsibility for every one of our actions. It means that we are no longer seeing other people and outside events as the cause of our problems. Blame no one, accept the behavior of others and the circumstances of our lives as givens, and proceed from there.
Supporting our own weight-This means functioning as a whole, being able to support all the components of our own lives. Examples include taking care of our own personal lives, family and physical wellness.
Universal thinking- Since integrity is a quality of wholeness, an appreciation of wholeness in the world supports its practice.
Respecting others- practice integrity with other people by treating them with respect — even when they do not live up to our personal expectations of them. Acknowledge that our own standards can be subject to question, while affirming that the errors of others do not diminish our own integrity. We get the best from others in a culture that supports doing the right thing.
Checking the mirror- When we made a mistake — as we will, again and again — the best response is to pause for reflection. We can ask ourselves- Is this who I am as a person?
Defining the rules and values- It’s important for leaders to be clear about their values and rules on how live a life of integrity and share them as a group-Building consensus on how WE define integrity together, instead of a collection of individual values and rules.