Integrity: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness
Character: The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual
How often have you been around someone who proclaims that they, themselves carry high levels of integrity or moral character? I can say that I have often thought that about myself, but then something in life brings back to reality and teaches me humility. As a leader, how often are you tempted to either ignore character development in yourself, or assume that you have already achieved a proper level of integrity? It is easy to convince ourselves, and thus try to convince others that we have integrity. Only through our actions do we show what is really in our heart and mind. As a leader, are you taking into consideration those who are in your care, when you seek to make the right decision? Are you making the tough decision when it is uncomfortable, or are you taking the easy way out and not addressing issues?
The way you make decisions and the way conclusions are drawn, reveal opportunities for choices that pursue integrity in all areas of life and thus add to your character development. When you make decisions based upon integrity, it may bring difficult circumstances around you but in the long run you are showing how well you can be trusted with the lives, careers, and hopes of those for whom you are responsible to lead. Will you bring order to chaos, remove obstacles so others can succeed, meet others where they are in times of need, shoulder the responsibility of failure, and pass on the praise for success? When every decision you make is intentional and based upon the desire for integrity, you will show humility and character and others will want to be part of your team.
There is a saying in some business circles, “If you think you are leading and no one is following you, then you are only taking a walk.” Take the time to think about those around you. Richard Rierson (http://www.richardrierson.com/), constantly reminds those he coaches that all of us are leaders. Everyone is a father, mother, uncle, aunt, brother, sister, friend, or coworker. We all have people in our lives who look to us for leadership and direction…even if we do not realize. Learn to be intentional, admit weaknesses, help others in your areas of strength, be authentic and vulnerable, and strive to make choices with integrity.
In striving to build your own character, ask yourself, “Do I treat my handshake and spoken promise to have the same value as a signed contract?” When you say you are going to complete a task, hit a deadline, assist a coworker…do you keep your word? When no one is looking, are you still trying to do the right thing? Are you willing to highly esteem those you serve while you are in a leadership role?
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