It affects more “leaders” than just about anything else, stripping them of the trust and respect of their followers. It is an equal opportunity annoyer, alienating team members in business, religious, and political organizations. The Center of Creative Leadership (CCL) even came out with a study in 1983 stating that this malady was one of the top five traits that derail managers. What is it? It is an absence of integrity, or what I like to call Integrity Deficit Disorder.
Integrity means to possess and steadfastly adhere to high professional standards or moral principles. This means your behavior is aligned with your values. The opposite of integrity is deceit and hypocrisy. If a leader lacks integrity, it is nearly impossible to have the cooperation and genuine loyalty of his or her followers because the leader has been deemed untrustworthy.
How important is integrity as a leadership quality? A study by the National Leadership Index in 2005 indicated that when asked, 95% of Americans stated that what they wanted most out of their leadership was honesty and integrity. Out of eleven different character traits, it was rated as highest in importance, even above knowledge, leadership ability, and skills!
Mohandas Gandhi was a phenomenal example of integrity and leadership. In 1931, he traveled to Britain to attend a Round Table Conference regarding India. Although he looked frail and was dressed in a simple robe, he spoke passionately and powerfully for two hours with no notes (or teleprompter), mesmerizing many in parliament and the press. After the speech, his secretary was asked how he could possibly speak for so long with no notes. He reportedly said, “You don’t understand Gandhi. …What Gandhi thinks, what he feels, what he says, and what he does are all the same. He does not need notes….”
Do you want to motivate and inspire others? You must first set high standards for yourself and be an example of integrity where what you say and what you do are one and the same. Be sure that your actions align with your values, and you will gain the trust, respect, and loyalty of those who look to you for leadership.
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