Leading with Integrity

This week’s post comes from Doug Post.

Sometimes the morality of “being a person of integrity” gets in the way of integrity’s workability. So let’s set the moral component of integrity aside for a moment.

From a performance perspective, integrity means, “I do what I say . . . every time.” Integrity is based on honoring and keeping your word. That’s why Interstates has defined integrity as “being honest and forthright in all our dealings.”  Honesty and integrity are two sides of the same coin. Michael Hyatt puts it well: honestyis making your words match reality; integrityis making reality match your words.

In the workability sense, the Nazis had tremendous integrity. They said “we will kill the Jews and create living space.” They went and did it at such a level that it took the rest of the world to stop them.

There is little integrity in the world. Doctors say they will see you at 11:00 a.m. A coworker says he will have a report ready by noon. Government leaders say they will act in the best interest of the country. But doctors have “waiting” rooms, coworkers often disappoint us,  and government leaders act in their own best interest. This is not always the case, but integrity is an all or nothing game.

Zig Ziglar said, “The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.” Choosing to live in integrity is the greatest commitment you can make to those around you. It is an essential value of high-performance groups.

When you lead your next project team, consider asking the people in your team to live in integrity for the duration of the project. Set a rule that there are no small or big promises; there are only promises, and all promises will be kept. You may stir up a strong knee-jerk reaction–the invitation to live with integrity terrifies people. It is not easy to be true to our word, but do you want to be involved with a project in which deadlines become “guidelines” and meetings start “around” nine o’clock?

In a high performance culture, a “yes” means you’re done. In a low performance culture, getting a “yes” means you still need to follow-up, plead, renegotiate, explain delays, postpone other projects, etc.

To lead others with integrity requires you to embody and teach three skills:

  1. You must understand what you have been requested to give your word to.
  2. Say “yes” only when you mean it and are willing to act, even at personal cost.
  3. Get very good at saying “no,” because that is going to be your most common response.

Integrity is the source of trust. Trust enables intimacy with others. This gets us back to the broader, moral perspective of integrity that we simply cannot forget!

At Interstates, we build relationships through integrity. Leading with integrity includes discerning what is right and what is wrong so that what we do is best for the people we lead and serve. It also means avoiding the dark side of integrity: holier-than-thou, rigid, pushing personal standards on others, always saying exactly and completely what we think, etc. Our value then becomes a vice and we no longer build relationships.

Integrity is not easy, but it is simple: do what you say. “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No'” (Matthew 5:37).

Where do you believe we live and lead with integrity?  Where don’t we?
Continue Leading the Interstates Way!
Doug Post

External sources: The Primes by Chris McGoff and Executive EQ by Robert Cooper


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