A Life of Integrity
"The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them."
The other day I read an article about what people respect most in leadership, and what qualities they most want their leaders to have. Of the many amazing qualities to chose from- intelligence, strategic thinking, talent, and courage- one rose far above the rest: Integrity. People want to follow leaders and individuals who do what they say they will, and model what they ask others to do. In my own experience, I've always found this to be the case. A leader with integrity is worth following, if for no other reason, because he or she is not going to be destroyed by their own corruption. People instinctively know what Proverbs 11:13 confirms: that sooner or later, those without integrity do not end up where they think they are going. In the same way, people can sense the strength of character in a leader who is honest, upright, and consistent. A leader who has proven that they are the same no matter how many eyes are on them. Take a minute to evaluate what you model for the people around you. Are you the kind of leader that seems crafty, sneaky, or like they would lie in an advantageous situation? Or are you someone worthy of their trust? Consider these 3 points for living a life of integrity:
1. Walk in Integrity
Proverbs 10:9 "Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out"
Walking in integrity means intentionally being honest and upright in everything you do. It means resisting temptation to cut corners, or do things that you know are against the values that you say you promote. It's doing more than just "talking the talk." When followers see that you do more than just communicate rules and strategies, but actually live by them, they are inspired to live by them as well. One of the greatest rewards of living with integrity is that you organically create leaders under you that will do the same. Because of this, your team will learn to trust you, and know they can follow you without fear. You, in turn, will be able to trust them, as they live with integrity as well.
2. Speak with Integrity
Proverbs 19:1 "Better the poor whose walk is blameless
than a fool whose lips are perverse"
It is not uncommon to see leaders who lie when they need to get out of a jam, or cut a better deal. I've seen leaders lie to their followers, about their followers, and even ask their followers to lie for them. The problem is, people naturally assume that if you are willing to lie to someone else, you are also probably going to lie to them. No matter what it is, nothing that you gain through "perverse" or dishonest speech is ever worth it. It may get you out of trouble for the time being, or get you a better deal on something, but it will also taint your testimony in the eyes of those whose trust is most valuable to you. In times of uncertainty or change, you want your followers to know you as someone who speaks the truth. If they don't, there is always a chance they opt not to follow your direction.
3. Enforce Integrity
Proverbs 20:23 "The Lord detests differing weights,
and dishonest scales do not please him."
A leader worth following is one that shows his or her team that they not only live with integrity, they hold everyone around them to the same standard. They do not measure with dishonest weights by making decisions based on favoritism, or allowing back-biting or lying to prosper within their team. They cut down anything that lacks integrity, and are fair across the board. When you push people to a high standard of integrity you prove to them that you will be just in every situation. Followers of this type of leader are less likely to question why decisions were made or whether or not they are being treated with respect, because they know the character that their leader has, and know he or she can be trusted.
Remember that leadership is measured by the quality of the team you produce. If you fail to live with integrity, and model it for your team, you will end up with a team doomed to be destroyed by their crookedness as it says in Proverbs 11:13. While it may not seem to have a big effect at first, eventually you will find the entire culture of your organization infected with the disease of lying, hiding things, and overall dishonesty. If you have seen this as a problem among your followers, ask yourself, what have you modeled for them? Is there anything you could be doing that could be interpreted as corrupt or unprincipled? If so, start living by these 3 principles today, in even the smallest ways, and I'm sure you will reap the benefits in time!