Google has over 100 million results for “Leading with Integrity” and that demonstrates how often we associate the word “integrity” with leadership.
But as a Leader, I want a more concrete definition of “integrity” than “doing the right thing when no one is watching” and want to distill the 100 millions perspectives into something usable and identifiable.
What specifically is “Leading with Integrity”?
First, at the foundation of integrity are the community values. These values support the general welfare of the community, our work organizations, and work teams. Integrity is our steadfast commitment to align our words and actions with community values regardless of circumstances and to follow through on that commitment. In public and private, our commitment, words, and actions promote the general welfare of the community we lead.
Often commitment is like an alka seltzer. When it hits the water, it bubbles and fizzes. Then with time, it simply fizzles out. Leading with integrity means even after the bubbles and fizzes die, we care enough about people and issues that we still show up and do what’s right.
Leaders do the hard stuff. We accept the responsibility of modeling right behavior even when we don’t feel like it. We have the difficult conversations, we set boundaries, and we say “no” even when we personally may have wanted to say “yes”.
Leading with integrity requires courage and braveness. We get scared, and we still do what needs to be done. We are not the cowardly lions in the jungle. We speak the unpopular opinions when they need to be spoken. We take the unpopular stance. We do what right calls us to do in the uncomfortable circumstances.
Leading with Integrity does not require perfection. We are human and we get tired and sometimes fall short of getting it right. We apologize when we mess up. And we fix, not cover up, what we messed up. Sometimes this takes time, a lot of time, but we do what is required. Our messes may also be embarrassing but we are more concerned about doing what is right for the community that to be stopped by embarrassment or ego. And, we do not repeat messes or make excuses because that undermines the community that we lead. We create habits so next time we really do better.
Leading with integrity is a high standard and comes with weighty choices and decisions to make. Fame and glory are not promised, but a the community needs these Leaders. The community needs us.
Leave a comment and let’s start the conversation.