Leadership Integrity: The Foundation of Everything

It’s no mystery that we expect our leaders to tell us the truth — and we hope it’s a truth we can actually deal with and implement. We also want leaders to keep their word; we expect that the promises they make, however lofty or seemingly unbelievable, will be kept. But as anyone who has been a leader knows, it’s not always easy to make that happen.

Even so, taking certain actions can help preserve the integrity in your leadership while also embracing the reality of circumstance. Here are three:

1.    If you let people know in advance the obstacles in their path, they’re more understanding when things aren’t perfect and much more prepared to be successful along the way.

2.    You have to be able to keep your word; however, if you cannot keep your word, you must be willing to clean up the mess caused by failure to deliver on your promise. Those who are willing to repair the fallout from their unfulfilled promises are the ones who are forgiven in the present and who retain credibility in the future.

3.    Your behavior will betray your skill. If people don’t like how you conduct yourself, they typically look for reasons to mistrust or disagree with you. However exceptional your abilities may be, no level of technical excellence is likely to sway them from this tendency to judge you by your behavior. In short, doing a good job is not enough. The people you lead need to feel comfortable with your intentions and feel like you value their existing knowledge and circumstances.

The origin of the word integrity refers to something solid and complete, something that can weather the storm. Your success needs to be built on a foundation that embodies all those qualities.

Therefore, if you hope to attract and keep talented young performers (knowing that they tend to complain on social media about how they’re being managed), or if you want your workforce to buy into a new approach or adapt to the merger, you’ll need to rely on something beyond your own brilliance, amazing emotional intelligence, and ability to see around corners. Those qualities are indeed great, but they’re not enough. You have to be accountable—clearly sincere with a likeable leadership style.

Remember that the goal of leadership is to have actual followers. Honestly, without followers, you are simply in charge—quite possibly, in charge of nothing more than mediocrity!

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