In just about every list of leadership attributes we find the word Integrity. So what is integrity? According to Merriam Webster:
1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
2: an unimpaired condition : soundness
3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness
For those in a leadership position, it is important that we follow “the code” consistently. It’s very easy to nullify a tremendous amount of hard work building a culture by simply asking the wrong question, acting in a way the belies our stated “beliefs” or by not recognizing how others act from a position of integrity in a given situation. This is, of course, part of what we mean when we talk about the culture of an organization and how people “fit.” Are their values in sync with the organizational values and do they consistently adhere to them?
Integrity means we tell the truth to ourselves and each other. And truth is with a lower case “t.” As leaders, it is important to recognize that we each have only one view of the “truth,” and that a learning organization listens to the pieces of “truth” from multiple points of view. That is why no one of us is as smart as all of us.
There is also the “completeness” part of integrity. When we say a structure has integrity, we mean that all the physical parts are present, connected as they should be and are functioning as they expected. A bridge or a building, for example, will fail without structural integrity. Organizations are the same. It’s the leaders job to make sure the integrity is built in, that it is maintained and that any new “additions” to the structure do not diminish the integrity of the organization. That the organization has integrity is key to being unimpaired and to its developing into a high performance team. It isn’t an easy job.