By LOUISA DEVADASON
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” – Stephen Covey
Leaders spend years developing specific skills to win people over – charisma, eloquence, wit, intellect. They spend years becoming experts in one or more areas. In the blurry of achieving and conquering goal after goal, it’s easy to overlook core values that lay out the foundation for success and longevity in one’s career.
Encoded in the DNA of every effective leader is integrity. Integrity is defined as: “Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”
Integrity is the seed that grows into trust. Imagine the uneasiness you feel around someone who has broken your trust. It makes your skin crawl; you cannot wait to withdraw from them and retreat.
Author, chief executive officer, chief information officer, chief technologist, product manager and consultant Enrique Fiallo said, based on his extensive experience, “There are many things you can lack and still steer clear of danger. Integrity isn’t one of them. Establish a set of sound ethics policies, integrate them into all business processes, communicate them broadly to all employees, and make clear that you will not tolerate any deviation from any of them. Then live by them…”
Character over reputation
Leaders with integrity are primarily concerned about the quality of their character than their reputation. Your reputation is merely who others think you are, but character is who you really are, and people can often intuitively tell when you’re hiding behind a veil of inauthenticity.
University researchers Robert Moorman and Steven Grover investigated the core reason integrity was pivotal to effective leadership. Their findings were published in the International Journal of Leadership Studies. They postulated that leader integrity matters to followers because of the information it communicates to followers that may help them reconcile the inherent uncertainty of follower decision-making.
Integrity makes followers feel comfortable and safe when trying to predict outcomes of trusting a particular leader. It is part of any follower’s survival instinct, especially when faced with uncertainty.
As humans have formed complex hierarchies that are often multi-directional, leaders are sometimes followers and vice versa. Hence, integrity is so crucial to function and thrive within any niche or organisation.
Questions to ponder
Building integrity is simple although not easy. Asking yourself these five questions could be a good start to engage the mindset of integrity leadership.
1. Do I keep my word and my promises?
2. Do I maintain honest communication with others?
3. Do I keep my environment organised?
4. Do I make myself accountable?
5. Do I keep the right company?
As a leader, it is important to be mindful of these questions. By addressing them, you will see your integrity continue to grow and affect progress around you.