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Leaders with integrity are what we all dream about, in business or in politics.
I am not saying all leaders do not possess this quality – but throughout the world it is sadly lacking. Leaders with integrity possess their own brand of wisdom, ingenuity, perceptiveness, fairness, and fierce loyalty to their organisations and those they lead.
Consider the following:
l When leaders with integrity make a promise, they keep it. We can rely on them and know they will keep their word.
l When they speak they do so openly and with transparency. They speak to the point.
l Leaders with integrity do not expect others to conform to their way of thinking because blind conformity has many downsides. It removes any form of creativity and individuality. Being an intelligent non-conformist is not disobedience or disrespect for authority; it is about taking responsibility and using your right to make personal decisions while accepting that you will be held accountable. Intelligence is what makes the difference. There is a logical explanation for the decision and course of action taken. I stress there is responsibility and accountability.
l Leaders have an open-door policy and are prepared to listen to the opinions of others. A leader makes all subordinates feel safe in expressing opinions.
Followers of such a leader do not fear the leader and certainly do not feel they have to be “yes men” to protect their jobs. As a result they want to give more and their best at all times. This is the quality of a leader that separates high performance from a minimum acceptable standard.
l The lack of authenticity in a leader carries a very heavy price. Leadership is difficult work and it is easy for the leader to stray and lose sight of the objectives.
This is due to the pressure of today’s competitive environment where certain knowledge needs to be protected or where certain news, such as possible retrenchments, could lead to the loss of key employees to competitors.
l The authentic leader, despite continually doing his/her best, must be continually on guard and continually looking over his/her shoulder.
Office politics will have an impact on such a leader. They cannot trust that others will be genuine in their dealings. They realise others may still want to betray them despite their personal efforts to do their best.
l The authentic leader, the leader of integrity, must at all times remain true to self. To be an authentic leader of integrity you need to: live your values every day; keep your promises; be truthful and do not pretend; speak openly, transparently and with self-confidence; be consistent in everything you do and make others aware of where you come from and what you are about. Share your values, dreams and aspirations with others.
l This article was adapted from Bruna Martinuzzi’s book The Leader as a Mensch. Des Squire is managing member of AMSI and Associates. Contact him at email@example.com