#1 Characteristic of Effective Leaders: Integrity

Find out how integrity can lift or place a lid on your leadership growth… 

The number 1 leadership characteristic for success: integrity.While leaders come in all shapes and sizes and every leader needs to work to their strengths, when developing their leadership capacity, it is character not skill that will keep you growing and moving forward. As John Maxwell says; “charisma will get you in the door but character will keep you in the room”.

charisma will get you in the door but character will keep you in the room @johncmaxwell Click To Tweet

So what are some essential characteristics or qualities of a truly great leader? Every writer has their own list of essentials. Some long, some short, but the #1 characteristic that always comes up and will keep coming up in your growth journey is: Integrity…

Integrity: Why does it matter? 

This is a funny one… because although I think most leaders understand and believe that integrity is important, whenever I teach this, it very quickly becomes apparent in a group that your idea of “right” may be quite different to my idea of “right”.

The dictionary defines integrity as: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. C.S. Lewis puts it this way: Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching.

In culture of fluid moral values, integrity is becoming a dangerously abstract concept. Click To Tweet

 On one hand it may appear that it’s just basic common sense, but in a culture that is so fluid in it perceptions of right and wrong, moral sense seems to be far less common than we thought. This can be an even bigger challenge a leaders who lack the ability to think critically and is reluctant to stand for any one set of moral values, lest they offend someone in the process.

Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching. C.S.Lewis Click To Tweet

So what to do…?

How do we define integrity in a culture that has such fluid moral values. Ultimately this has to come don to the individual. You have to do some hard work on assessing your own values and asking the questions if your values and actions actually convey integrity.

Leaders who lack the ability to think critically will struggle to stand for anything of value… Click To Tweet

2 Simple Questions

To simplify the concept I like to assess my integrity by asking myself 2 simple questions:

1. If someone posted my actions and words on Facebook post, would I have to start making excuses to justify my choice, or would it be a non-event? If you have to justify or explain your actions then chances are; you’re skirting the boundaries of integrity.

2. Another way of testing your integrity is to ask “do I need to do this on the quiet?” If you are intuitively doing things privately or secretly to avoid the scrutiny of others, then you’re probably treading on dangerous territory with your integrity.

See, integrity it is less about whether you think what you’re doing is wrong and whether others will perceive what you’re doing as wrong.

Integrity is less about what you do and more about the perception that you convey Click To Tweet

If the perception of others is that you are doing something dodgy, then whether you are or not, it will begin to erode your leadership credibility.

An ancient Jewish teacher suggested that a wise leader will avoid even the appearance of evil.

a wise leader will avoid even the appearance of evil Click To Tweet

So how’s your integrity? Do you need to do some work on how you operate in this space?

3 Tips for operating with integrity:

  1. Deal in Truth. Half-truths always end up tending towards lies and misunderstanding. Make it a habit to always speak honestly and truthfully.

  2. Operate with Transparency. If you have to hide it, it will only lead to dishonesty. Whatever you do, be transparent and accessible to others.

  3. Maintain Accountability. Put people around you that you trust who will call you on your stuff. Give them permission to speak into your life and to challenge your integrity if they have concerns. Then listen to them if they do.

You will only grow personally and professionally to the level that you can build and maintain credibility with others. Your character will win you credibility and keep you in the game long after the fly by nights have disappeared.

Your leadership will grow to the level that you can build and maintain credibility with others Click To Tweet

What are your tips for assessing and maintaining credibility in your leadership?

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