“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower
Great quote. What is INTEGRITY anyway? The dictionary describes it as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty”
And how does it look in a leader?
Simply put - INTEGRITY is always doing the right thing, no matter if someone is looking or not.
I wish it was that simple. It is also knowing what the right from wrong. I am not being flippant with that last statement. Sometimes you have to wonder if leaders in the world even know what right is. Okay, stay positive here Mary!
There is a lot of , maybe too much, opportunity to interpret integrity and the right thing in everyday life. For example, if I believe something is right, and I support or act on it, am I acting with integrity. I would say yes. At the same time if your beliefs do not match mine - am I still acting with integrity? I believe so, you may not agree.
Fortunately in business it is not that complicated. We have compliance policies and standards to help keep everyone on the right path. One example of a policy is GAAP – generally acceptable accounting practice. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) refer to the standard framework of guidelines for financial accounting, generally known as accounting standards or standard accounting practice. These include the standards, conventions, and rules that accountants follow in recording and preparing company financial statements. Another example of a policy may be your company sexual harassment , discrimination, or gift acceptance policies.
Policy, laws, and standards are critical to corporate ethics and integrity. The policies clearly state what you can or cannot do and what the ramification will be if you break policy. If a point is not clear, you owe it to yourself to get it clarified. Policy does not eliminate the need for the leader to use common sense and take accountability of their actions. Rules cannot be written for every circumstance.
As a leader, we are accountable for the integrity of our life and behavior. Settling for anything less compromises the trust that we desperately need from others. We must stay true to our values and principles as they will be reflected in our team member’s actions. Only then are we leading with integrity and able to look at ourselves in the mirror with honesty.