What Really is Integrity?
The concept of integrity in business is often a topic people do not like to talk about because it involves direct truth that no one wants to hear.
Integrity is an indispensable quality of a good leader. It is the life-blood and strength of real leadership. It can be defined as the state of consistency of actions, values, principles and methods. It is the very concept of distinguishing the right from the wrong and always wholeheartedly sticking to the right over the wrong at all time.
Integrity is a key in leadership. It is the heart of every good leadership. Integrity defines who a leader is, if he is worth following or not.
A leader may be very talented and intelligent but if he is lacking in integrity, his talents and intelligence will only end up as a mental image — a mere mirage. Integrity speaks for us in our absence. It attributes to the sound reputation that effective leaders earn. It is the supreme quality of leadership, without which, no real success is possible in any endeavor.
Integrity versus Reputation
It is natural that we all feel concerned about how we are viewed by others. Our image as seen by others is our reputation. But most of the time, our reputation is dependent on who we are, either with or without integrity.
It is possible to fake character to appear impressive in order to improve a reputation. That is the way leaders without integrity are. But that is temporary, because sooner or later, the mask often falls off, the fakeness becomes exposed. Leaders without integrity are only concerned about how they are viewed by others, without genuine concern about their true character — the very essence of their existence. The time spent merely trying to impress others could wisely be spent in building solid character, and then allowing the reputation to naturally take care of itself.
When a leader professes integrity but lacks it in his action and practices, he puts his leadership in line; the genuine respect of his people over time naturally wanes off.
Integrity in Business
To succeed in business, integrity must be built in all the methods and processes involved. If customers or clients cannot trust you all of the time, they will find you untrustworthy. Integrity over time yields trust.
How Leaders Can Build Integrity
To be able to win the trust and respect of his team, a leader must…
1) Walk the talk: The leader must learn to say what he mean, and mean what he says. He must be exemplary in terms of modeling what he says.
2) Accept responsibility and be accountable: Whatever goes wrong in the team, a leader must learn to accept responsibility for. When things go wrong, he must not be the type that blames it on his people and processes he leads his people to formulate. He must accept complete responsibility for the behavior and atmosphere of his team.
3) Give prompt and appropriate commendation: A leader must learn to give sincere commendation when warranted. Proper recognition boosts the morale of his team members.
4) Really listen: Actively listening and receiving feedback from subordinates helps to assess his leadership styles and the effect on his team.
When a leader makes integrity his way of life, people choose to follow him without being compelled to. And, when people follow, success becomes inevitable. This is because the people naturally throw their hearts into doing their best under the leadership of a leader that they can trust and fully rely upon.
When it comes to integrity, no one can go back to the beginning to start all over, but we can all start from this moment to form a new beginning.