“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” – Douglas Adams
The leadership you provide is a service. A service to many.
You might lead an organisation, group or team. You might lead in terms of thought, principles or research. You may provide leadership for your family and friends.
In all instances, the leadership you provide is a service and to think otherwise means that you misinterpret what true leadership really is. The responsibility for setting the example, developing people and defining the results, and achieving them is with you. You do this for the benefit of all, not for the benefit of yourself.
To deliver the service of leadership, there is one trait, above all others, that is critical to your overall success – Integrity. Integrity is at the very heart, the absolute core of what makes a true leader. A true leader is someone whom others choose to follow. They believe in what you say; they trust your actions; they respect your approach. A leader does not need to coerce or force others to adopt their way. A leader does not create a false environment to solely achieve personal objectives. A leader understands the greater good and through considered planning and delivery, brings people on a journey that they believe in.
What is real integrity? The sort of integrity that makes leaders great?
I think it is very simple. Integrity is saying exactly what you mean and then doing it. Every time. And to add a little cherry to the “Integrity” cake, what you mean should be on behalf of the greater good, not personal objectives only.
In a world dominated by spin, by positioning and shaping of arguments, honesty is refreshing. Even with the presence and availability of different great tools that can be used to lead and manage your team better such as the Time Doctor, honesty is valued above all. As a leader, it is important that the words you speak are truthful, honest and aligned to your own moral compass. Honest delivery of your message in addition to the ethical moral compass that focuses on the greater good will resonate with people. Whilst they may not 100% agree with your message at first, they will respect the manner of its creation and delivery. Over time, as your actions support the message, you will find that more and more people will value your approach, objectives and leadership.
Let’s take a quick look at the differences in the two primary Democratic presidential candidate hopefuls, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Now bear in mind that I am Australian and have no involvement in politics in the USA. I am an outside observer and as such, my perspective is just that. An outsider’s perspective.
I see two candidates who clearly have a deep level of respect for one another. Two capable people. But surrounding them, I see two completely different arguments. They are:
- Bernie Sanders – the focus seems to be more on whether he can do the job, not defending negative decisions from the past
- Hillary Clinton – the focus seems to be more on defending decisions from the past, not whether she can do the job
You see, both candidates have a well published track record. Clinton’s track record is full of achievements but is a little murky. Some decisions are coming back to haunt (for example, voting yes to invade Iraq). There are questions about changing of positions on key ethical issues like marriage equality. Her speaking engagements with mistrusted financial institutions like Goldman Sachs has created her personal wealth but also doubt with the general public. There is no doubt that she can do the job as President, but her leadership credentials are continually being questioned. Flip that across to Sanders whose track record, to the outsider, looks utterly impressive. He has voted with his moral compass switched well and truly on for over 30 years and his integrity on what are now deemed “popular” issues such as marriage equality and pay equality seems beyond question. Sander’s policies are the point of topic but his leadership capabilities are not a talking point because his integrity as a leader cannot be realistically challenged.
This is where integrity in leadership stands out. Honesty, sincerity and living the example rise above every single time.