Integrity: The Underpinning of Enduring Leadership
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The Cure to the Present:

When we look around the world today, people are generally concerned with the direction of things. This is true of most people regardless of their political, religious, environmental, or other ideological beliefs. I often wonder how we as people can think that everyone else is the problem, yet I know I fall prey to this thinking as well. To combat this mindset in me, I like to ask myself the question, “if everyone acted like me, what would the impact on society be?” I strive to apply this test to my specific actions and mindsets and play out the results on a society wide basis. This type of thinking helps shift the “blame” from others and helps focus it back under our scope of responsibility. To me, it is this thinking that is the basis of integrity.

Integrity Defined:

When you ask someone what integrity is, you get a myriad of answers that equate to “doing the right thing”. However, in our post-modern world, “doing the right thing” does not always have a shared meaning. Merriam-Webster defines the word in three ways: incorruptibility, soundness, and completeness. You see, integrity is inextricably linked to:

  • identity (completeness of our development)
  • philosophy (soundness of our morals)
  • courage (incorruptibility under pressure)

Identity:

We talk a lot about Identify at TSOR because it is the place so many of us struggle and it is absolutely essential for personal freedom and effective leadership. To live without an understanding of who we really are means that we will live with a false self – an identity of duplicity. This is where we hide our true self due to unaddressed pain and insecurities and we cover those wounds with a false self, a pose, a false identity. This is a state of arrested development where we have no completeness of self and are constantly trying to protect our false identity instead of grow our true self. For me info on this, see our post “Adequacy in Leadership

Philosophy:

Even if we have a firmly rooted identity, it is important that the thoughts which guide our actions also lead to integrity.

As a man thinks, so he is.

The questions I like to ask myself is, “If everyone engaged in this action, what would the familial / business / societal impact be?” Acts such as murder, adultery, theft, and bribery all clearly result in a net negative to society, but so does neglectful parenting, poor health practices, and toxic management. This test helps us see the soundness of our doctrine, the completeness of our character, and our own (in)corruptible nature. Collectively, the level of philosophical consistency (integrity) of a family / workplace / society shows the relative strength of its culture (more on that here).

The Courage to Act:

No matter our understanding of self and a consistency of thinking, integrity eventually comes down to the courage to act in a way that is consistent with the other two pillars. Oftentimes, this is the most difficult part. Here are some practical tips to develop courage:

  1. Know who you, deal with your past, and understand your purpose
  2. Base your actions on higher level consequences, not first order consequences. (Remember: everything of lasting good in life requires courage)
  3. Build physical courage. This can come through exercise and engaging in a difficult / new / scary activity that challenges mind and body.
  4. Finally, invite others into integrity.

Restoring Order:

Within the workplace, an individual who lives with integrity begins to restore to the culture the necessary guardrails of decency. This occurs without judgment of others (as judgement violates the integrity test), but comes through true leadership. Setting an example of excellent character and influencing others to strive for the same standard in their own life.

Living with Integrity:

Integrity brings freedom in many aspects of life. This is not to say that all moral or ethical disagreements will be solved, but when we live in a way that is consistent with TSOR’s integrity test, we no longer have to worry about who knows our business. We are liberated from having to remember which story we told. There becomes a soundness to our character and we present an attainable model for others to emulate. Through this freedom comes a strength that is needed in all leaders. It allows us to remove our false identity, live with consistency, and lead with courage.

Some questions to help on our path of continuous refinement:

  • Why do I not desire to act with integrity at times?
  • Which of my actions, if implemented by all people, would result in societal ruin?
  • Would my team describe me as a leader of integrity?
  • Do I sometimes lack the courage to do what I know is right?
  • Do I care about those under my care, or do I care more about myself?

Let’s rise above and lead.


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