Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having unshakable moral principles, situated at the intersection of consistent actions and strong values. In other words, it’s a quality of people who do the right thing at all times, even when no one is looking, and especially when it is difficult to do so.
In a survey of over 3,000 employees and chief financial officers in 2016, integrity was highlighted by both groups as the most important attribute in a leader. Forbes states that integrity was ranked higher than other leadership qualities like fairness, decisiveness, and stability. Among employees, 75% indicated integrity is the most important attribute, while 46% of CFOs have the same views.
If you’re aspiring to be a good leader in your organization, here are four reasons why you must lead with integrity:
The most glaring benefit of practicing integrity in leadership is that it builds credibility with clients, investors, customers, and talented professionals. Integrity in operations entails transparency to make sure that necessary reports are filed accurately and on time, and that organizational commitments are met.
However, credibility is also derived from the personal integrity of an organization’s leaders. From a stakeholder’s point of view, Business Insider shares that personal integrity is important because people trust will you and do business with you, which means that even large and international brands are judged daily by the quality of its leaders.
Create a gateway for trust and inspiration
Leaders with integrity also do a greater job in gaining the trust of their colleagues and inspiring them to do better. Fraud specialist and ethical author Dr. Christopher Bauer argues that integrity is most crucial at the helm of any organization. Leaders need to model and actively reinforce integrity for everyone in the company to create a culture that values integrity. A previous LearnLoft post explained that you risk ruining the entire organizational culture if you do not practice this virtue. Bad leaders forget the importance of their words and can say false things or make promises they do not keep, which can crush morale and company culture.
Equip you for the challenges ahead
Part of practicing integrity is being unafraid of inconvenient or uncomfortable truths. It allows you to see the world as it really is, not as how you wish it could be, an ability that is present in the best of leaders. This refusal to compromise or to cheat will give you the courage to do what is right and will help you avoid deluding not just your stakeholders, but yourself as well.
This also means that integrity can help you continue growing and learning. Part of this awareness of and commitment to the truth is knowing how much there is left for you to learn. Menlo Coaching share that this integrity in receiving feedback is important since support without criticism is never helpful for growth. Too often, leaders lacking in integrity eventually fail because they are incapable of examining themselves and considering how they can be wrong.
Commitment to success
Lastly, practicing integrity as a leader is a commitment to success. On a personal level, it lets you hold yourself accountable not just to superiors but also to your colleagues and staff. This honesty and openness can help you learn what you can do better and fix mistakes you would never have been aware that you’ve committed. On the organizational level, integrity allows you to lead your team towards the company’s vision and goals since your moral compass will lead you there.
About the Author: Jen of ‘WrittenbyJVB’ leads a financial consulting firm in Maryland, which specializes in SMEs. When not busy with money matters, she loves to practice her green thumb with her daughter Trishia (3).