It is essential for every leader.
It cannot be bought.
It cannot be delegated.
It is recognized across all cultures, races and eras.
It is wholly unassociated with economic status.
It is the ultimate measure of a leader.
Although many people struggle to define integrity, most everyone can recognize it. You know someone you trust completely. You know someone whose word is their bond. You know someone who would tell the truth, would stand by their promises and would keep their agreements, even when it hurt them. Integrity is doing the right thing. The question we all ask ourselves is, “Am I that someone that other people think of when asked to name a person of integrity?”
The following test has five questions to ask yourself. The answers are for you alone, and the only way the test will work is for you to answer the questions honestly and transparently. As you read the following questions, if you begin to think that your initial personal integrity evaluation was a bit too optimistic, do not despair. Integrity is built over a lifetime of doing the right thing. Appreciate that your attention has been drawn to these areas, and let it make your future decisions more intentional.
How would you react in the following scenarios?
1. You have just heard a compromising, but unfounded, piece of information about an employee in your office who has the position you desire. Should he move on, there is a strong possibility of you being promoted to his current position. This move would almost double your current salary. Furthermore, you have never liked the guy. Do you casually share the gossip?
2. You were delayed at the office, and then you were stuck in traffic for an extra 45 minutes. You have a pressing dinner engagement. As you walk in the door, the phone rings and your child says, “It’s for you. It’s that insurance guy that talks forever!” You say, “Just tell him I was delayed, and I am not home yet.” Yes or no?
3. You have a small team of direct reports, and you are responsible for their reviews, salary raises and bonus amounts. Last year, you told an employee on your sales team that if she doubled her sales in the next year, you would double her bonus. To your surprise, she showed up at today’s review with a documented increase in sales of twice her number from the previous year. Although you clearly have not kept up with her monthly sales, you do know that the bonus amount you were allocated is not enough to cover her increase without decreasing your own. Do you explain that you are delighted with her work, promise great things in her future and give her a moderate increase? Or do you keep your word and double her bonus, even though you are personally left with a fraction of what you had anticipated?
4. On your way back to the office from an early meeting, you stop for coffee. The line is long, and by the time you get your latte, you sincerely wish you had opted for the drive-through. You hand the barista $20, and she gives you the change. As you are leaving, you realize that instead of giving you $10 and change, she mistakenly gave you $20 and change. Do you go back to return the extra $10, or do you consider it your lucky day?
5. Your child desperately wants to play in the city soccer league, and the teams are based on your geographic location. The team roster for your area is full, but the team where your sister lives has one remaining opening. Do you put her address on the application so your child can play soccer this year?
Integrity is a quality of being—not of doing—but the great paradox is that it is completely based on what one does. It has been said that unless a leader has integrity, he/she is simply a manager. This statement may be viewed through many lenses, but the true determination of a leader is in the loyalty of his followers. Integrity is an essential part in engendering that willingness to follow. Having integrity means doing the right thing, every time. Great leaders have integrity. This means they will do exactly what they say they will do. Circumstances may change and new situations may arise.
Nevertheless, the best-in-class leader will keep his word. He/she will not compromise his/her principles for convenience or advantage. So, are you a leader of integrity?