In one of the best books on Leadership, John Maxwell identifies The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. These are the 21:
I believe that every single one of these qualities would be undermined if the individual in possession of it had low Integrity. Integrity is doing what you said you would do. It's following through. It's making good on your commitments. It's delivering. It's doing the right thing.
In fact, Maxwell himself says Character is the key that unlocks the rest, so we're effectively saying the same thing. Character and Integrity are the siamese twins of leadership qualities.
The reason for its pre-eminence is because of what people seek in a leader - or rather what they're not looking for. When you want someone to lead you through a challenge or uncertainty, you're not just looking for a "friend" or someone who is amicable. You want honesty and candid input to save you time and effort. You want someone who works from a standpoint of solid, unshakable, values not someone who will just say what you want to hear. For all these reasons, and more, people like their leaders to be straight-talking and resolute.
In this week's video, I look at Integrity from the perspective of inspiring others and how one man's desire to turn his life around and set a good example for his son, led to some mixed outcomes.
If, for whatever reason, you've been struggling to live up to your own standards when it comes to integrity; or maybe you are just getting started and want to build some memory muscle around this concept, here are 5 simple steps to get you going:
When we are asked to do something for someone we respect or report to, it is human nature to want to impress and exaggerate what we can achieve for them. However, you are storing up problems if you hit any snags along the way.
What to do: When you are asked to do something such as provide an estimate for completion, or an estimate for volume, ask yourself, "have I allowed for problems?" If not, scale back your response. That way, if the job is plain sailing, you will beat expectations and enhance your reputation.
Are you always running late? Do you feel like the world is working against you, throwing obstacles in your way, causing you to be late for everything? Worse still, do you have a reputation for always being late?
What to do: Set off earlier than you think you need to. Aim to arrive at least 5 minutes early for any appointment. As well as making a good impression, you will have time to collect your thoughts and have a great meeting.
There's a certain type of person who is happy to complete a task with the bare minimum of effort. For many routine tasks this is appropriate. The problem arises when that job is for someone else and they expect better.
What to do: Check expectations before you start and then always work on polishing the job for at least an extra 5 minutes. In that time you will spot silly errors, overlooked details (and sometimes big omissions) and you have time to make the initial impression as good as it can be.
Raising our level of motivation for a job can be difficult sometimes, especially if it is a fairly routine task. The outcome is a job poorly done or a deadline slipped. All of a sudden, our reputation for excellent delivery is at risk.
What to do: Imagine you are showing someone else how to do the task or, even better, volunteer to mentor someone. The additional external observation and a natural desire to help someone else master something, will improve your performance and provide a good leadership opportunity.
There will be times when you cannot deliver what you said you would, when you will be late (despite setting off early) or you will miss something important. If your integrity rating had been on the rise it is easy to be hyper self-critical or deny the problem exists at all.
What to do: Always admit it when you have not met an expectation. See the setback as a learning opportunity. Apologise if necessary and focus on when and how you will correct the issue. Most people prefer to hear a genuine apology and a plan for fixing it than hear an excuse or how someone else is to blame.
These are everyday examples of how we can fine-tune our integrity muscle. Do these regularly and you will find that when your integrity is called into action for a bigger problem, you will instinctively know what to do.
What about you? Do you have a story about integrity? Feel free to share it below, it just might inspire someone to be the best they can be!
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