Values to lead by - Integrity
Last week, I spent some time helping my brother with his barn conversion. The job was working on the roof of the barn fitting metal roofing. In order for us to access this to fit the roof, scaffolders had placed scaffolding around the roof edge. Now, I am not a lover of heights, but I happily went up the ladder and worked on fitting the metal roof with my brother, because the scaffolding was ‘as safe as houses’.
The scaffolding was firm and has been fitted by a reputable scaffolding company who had certification to prove they met standards. As you walked on it, you could feel it had ‘structural integrity’. Structural integrity is a phrase used to demonstrate that a building can withstand weather and earth movements and yet remain standing firm and safe, giving confidence to everyone using it.
Integrity in leadership is the same. Whatever is thrown at it, the leadership remains true and firm. But what is the value of integrity? Integrity is ‘who walks through the door when no-one is looking’. It is about doing the right thing, even if you could get away with doing the wrong thing. As leaders, having the value of integrity is about asking yourself, what do I want to be known for? Truth? Honesty? When the history books write up your life are you the hero or the villain? Like all values in this series of blogs, I will explain 5 reasons why having integrity is key for us as leaders.
Each and every board on the scaffolding is firm, secure and not rotten. It has the reputation for having integrity. You know wherever you put your foot it will be safe. But have you ever crossed a rickety bridge, maybe over a stream? You can tell by the first foot you place on it that the wood is rotten. Any bridge like that soon gains a local reputation.
As a leader, if you’re known for taking short cuts, winning at all costs, it’s great to be with you when all is ok. But not when it goes wrong. People know you’re not safe to be around. When people see us always choosing to do the right thing, even if it might cost us, they know your reputation. They know you can be trusted.
Safe as houses, is the phrase. We like putting our feet on something solid and it makes us feel safe, just like the scaffolding. Buildings that have structural integrity, withstand the pressures of strong winds and we feel safe inside. It is the same when we choose to do the right thing as leaders. People around us know that we are safe to be with because when things go wrong, we will have made a decision based on what is right to do.
Leaders of integrity make the right decisions because even if they turn out to not go so well, they are based on good moral character. So, they are unlikely to backfire but if they do go wrong, people know that they will be on the right side of the law. I talk to people about TNRPLA: True, Noble, Right, Pure, Lovely and Admirable. If we use these as a filter and ask ourselves if what we are about to do passes the TNRPLA test, then we are likely to be acting with integrity. They are not always easy things. For example, if you have to perform redundancies it is not a ‘lovely’ thing to do, but you can try to do them in an ‘admirable’ and ‘right’ way. When we base our thinking on this, people know we do the right thing and they can trust us.
Making decisions as a leader can sometimes be worrying. Will it be the ‘right’ decision? When we act with integrity, decisions are made on solid truths. There are no lies or easy bucks. No adjusting of the truth or twisting things to suit you. It is all about doing the right thing. Therefore, decisions are made based on truth. It doesn’t mean everything goes swimmingly but it does mean if it goes wrong there isn’t legal comeback. Therefore, you can be more confident.
Integrity generates quality. Integrity means that you won’t release a project that isn’t working properly because you don’t want to take shortcuts. You want to do the right thing for those you serve and bring them the best product. Therefore, quality of your product or service goes up. In turn this generates a quality reputation too.
So much of our media is filled with leaders who have taken the moral shortcuts and not acted with integrity. Whether that is in politics, business, education, religious or the charitable sector. Having integrity as a value is something that has to be worked on every day. It is so easy for the weeds of moral shortcuts to enter the garden of integrity, and we need to check our character to weed them out and invite trusted colleagues to hold us accountable before the weeds spread.
Integrity brings safety, trust and a confidence in the quality that you offer. Integrity is an asset.
Everyday Leader has integrity as one of its core values. We run training and coaching to help leaders lead with integrity. Do contact us if you would like our help. firstname.lastname@example.org