Integrity comes from the Latin word “integer” which means whole or complete. When referring to a person of integrity we think of him or her as being whole, all the pieces fitting together. Being in integrity is about living from a place of truth. I like to think of integrity as an alignment of your beliefs and thoughts with what you say and do.
According to the Wikipedia, “Integrity is holding true to one’s values. Said another way: being one’s word; doing what you said you would do by when and how you said you would do it. Integrity is knowing what is important to you and living your actions accordingly.”
From historic disasters like Enron and WorldCom, to more recent ones in the financial industry, there’s certainly no shortage of examples of leaders with who are more than willing to compromise when it comes to matters of integrity. These dangerous leaders have destroyed personal and professional lives, companies, industries, not to mention adversely affecting others around the world.
From this mess, we’ve inherited even more distrust of leaders, Sarbanes-Oxley and thousands of pages of compliance requirements from every regulatory agency imaginable. Leaders who lack integrity destroy lives and futures. Their selfishness drives dreams into the ground and dashes the hopes we have for a better and brighter future for our children.
Today’s successful leaders must subscribe to a higher level of performance. Their success and the success of the organizations they lead are dependent on how well they live their values, how
closely they align words and actions. Without integrity, there is no trust, and certainly, no followers or believers. Without integrity, there is nothing for anyone.
How would you rate your level of integrity? Are your words and actions highly aligned? How does being in high integrity affect your success as a leader?
Start with yourself. Do you make promises to yourself and keep them? If you do, you’re on the right track. If not, practice over the next month or so. If you’re having difficulty following through, take a look at what you’ve obligated yourself to do. If you’re overextended, then you’ll need to prioritize and cut back on activities that aren’t serving you or which are standing in the way of you being the best leader you can be.
When you make a promise to do something for yourself or for anyone else, do whatever you can to follow through. Once this becomes a habit, not only will you enhance your leadership abilities, but also your overall performance will improve.
“Leaders who win the respect of others are the ones who deliver more than they promise, not the ones who promise more than they can deliver.” — Mark A. Clement
Tara Kachaturoff is the creator, producer and host of Michigan Entrepreneur TV, a weekly television talk show featuring business leaders and businesses from start-up to stellar. With over 15 years of experience in corporate finance in the tech sector, she now coaches executives, business professionals, and entrepreneurs on leadership, management, productivity, and marketing issues. Tara is also the author of 21 Qualities of a Leader from which this article is excerpted.