The second item in the Leadership Principles/Skills Outline was the word Integrity.
There is one term that all people should strive to have associated with their name. That term is integrity. If this isn’t a word that is familiar to you, let’s look at the textbook definition before digging into why it is so important.
According to Merriam-Webster the full definition of integrity is:
- firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
- an unimpaired condition : soundness
- the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness
Many people struggle with maintaining or even achieving personal integrity because of the default position of the human heart which tends to be very inwardly focused. When a person is inwardly focused (i.e. selfish, self-centered, lacking compassion for others, into everything for personal gain, etc.) they will constantly struggle with being able to act in a manner that falls in alignment with the aforementioned definition of integrity. For example, how can someone possess and maintain a strict moral compass when they are always focused on personal gain while constantly allowing their selfish mentality to dictate their actions? The answer is that they can’t…plain and simple. The first step down the road to possessing integrity is to learn to focus on the well-being of others while striving to do what you know to be morally correct 100% of the time. Don’t try to say that you don’t know what is right or wrong. Every human being is born with the basic ability to distinguish between right and wrong (your conscience!). A prolonged internal fight against listening to your conscience can result in a ‘seared conscience’ which will enable you to commit all kinds of unspeakable acts. Hopefully, you have not crossed into this territory. If you are truly interested in becoming a leader from any position in society (always remember leadership isn’t associated with job titles, social status, income, etc. it is the content of your character and your willingness to make an effort to help others through your selfless actions) you will have to start by analyzing the content of your character and shifting it to align with high moral standards (do what you know is right!). Strive to become known by your peers, family, etc. as a person who possesses integrity. Display your high moral standards in every situation, no matter how small or insignificant. The end result of your new set of personal standards will be an extremely fulfilling sensation knowing that you have done right by those around you. This is especially important for parents! Set the standard for excellence for your children and even more important for your spouse or significant other.
If you are struggling with adopting these principles because you have been severely wronged in your life, take this moment to reflect upon how much it hurt you…then decide to STOP it from being passed on to others; you will experience an emotional high like no other when you are acting with integrity at all times. Once it becomes integrated into who you are at your core, you will feel deep guilt when you act outside of it.
What are you waiting for?
Analyze yourself and make the necessary changes on your trek towards becoming an effective leader.
It will require strength and courage. Prepare yourself and step into this new way of life.
Are you up to the challenge?