Is your leadership foundation cracked?
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a six-part series exploring values-based leadership by Chris Hitch, director of the Gen. H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Center.
Gen. Hugh Shelton asserts that integrity is the foundation for a good values based leader. He makes the point that, if a person does not have integrity, a person does not have strong moral character. You cannot count on a person without integrity. Conversely, a person who does have strong moral character and integrity is someone you can trust implicitly.
In Shelton’s words, "Their word is their bond. You don’t have to worry about a person with integrity. If they tell you they’re going to commit to do something, they will do it. If I tell you I’m going to do something, you know that I’m going to do it if at all possible. The best leaders who’ve been forged as leaders in the crucible of combat go all the way to say, ‘I will do it even if it costs me my life. I’m going to go out and do what I promised you that I would do.’"
Additionally, Shelton notes that we end up disassociating ourselves from a person who lacks integrity because we don't want our integrity to be tarnished. The challenges of integrity go back throughout recorded history of time. It’s evident in many books in the Old Testament. It is the subject of many writings in the classical humanities studies. We see it today in the headlines that trumpet the individuals from many professions who have not led with integrity.
As noted in the post on honesty, integrity is based on a series of decisions you and I make that are analyzed and cataloged by those we lead and those we are led by. When you lead with integrity, you also bring others to you who share your same values, and it creates a reinforcing spiral of goodness. Luckily, the more that you associate with people who have a great deal of integrity, the more you are inspired to continue to act in a similar vein.
What situations have you found where you completely trusted an individual because of that person's integrity?
Chris Hitch, Ph.D., is director of the Gen. H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Center and program director of the Poole College of Management Executive Education at North Carolina State University.