What attribute is most highly regarded among individuals who lead others in difficult situations, such as battle or business? In basic words, integrity is adhering to a set of principles that includes honesty and the avoidance of fraud. Integrity, on the other hand, is more than just honesty. It entails acting in the best interests of the organisation or the leader, regardless of the circumstances.
The Greensboro, North Carolina-based Center for Creative Leadership undertook a breakthrough study to uncover attributes or behaviours linked to top leaders’ potential success or failure. 5 Top managers and senior human resource executives were polled by the researchers. They compiled profiles of twenty-one junior managers who had risen through the ranks to middle or upper management but had failed to deliver. These executives had all been on the fast track, but it had all come to a halt. They were dismissed, chose to retire early, or were never promoted again. The researchers also got descriptions of twenty successful managers and compared the two sets of descriptions to see what parallels and differences there were between the failed and successful managers. Then they looked at how probable it was for certain defects to jeopardise a promising career. One significant difference they discovered was that highly successful managers were far more likely to have displayed good integrity. Managers who had their careers derailed were considerably more likely to have promoted their own at the cost of others.
They were more prone to betray others. They were more likely to have violated a promise or betrayed someone’s trust. The research used the example of an executive who failed to carry out a decision as promised. This resulted in a slew of confrontations, affecting four tiers of disgruntled executives below him.
I used to believe that integrity was a character quality until I looked deeper into it. I used to believe you either have it or don’t. We had quarterly performance ratings at my previous employment. Integrity is one of the many items assessed, and it is graded on a scale of one to ten. I often ask my bosses, “How do you evaluate integrity on a scale of one to ten?” What does it mean to be relatively integrous? Isn’t it true that if someone behaves in a way that compromises their integrity, they no longer have integrity?
When I compare characteristics to actions and abilities, I’m more open to the idea that these qualities may be learnt, and that one can understand the value of ethical behaviour after being educated on its advantages. As such, I delved further into it and included integrity as a critical aspect of my leadership programs. However, I continue to feel that it is a committed quality because I am a proponent of Servant leadership.
Servant leadership, like other leadership theories, appears to imply that the attributes that make a leader effective aren’t only restricted to the workplace. Because values are attributes that we build in ourselves, leaders are not given the option of avoiding their leadership actions. In simpler terms, you cannot be a 9-t0-5 leader. Leaders must maintain their ethical standards, which reflect on them both inside and beyond the business they oversee. In reality, certain leadership methods, such as transformational leadership, are better suited to situations outside of the office.
Now if we defined integrity as “the attribute of being honest and possessing strong moral values” and Ethics as “related to moral standards”, then the behaviour or character trait is internalized to the individual, and not a job function. Therefore, when it comes to leadership traits like ethical behaviour, I’m not sure whether a leader can be effective until they ‘practise what they preach,’ that is, if they incorporate their leadership skills into every element of their lives. You can’t clock out at 5pm and stop being ethical, correct?
The reason I am a proponent of Servant leadership is because Servant leadership emphasises the need of having high ethical standards in order to successfully uplift and empower their followers. They do not compromise their integrity for personal gain, but rather keep it despite the temptation to do so. Furthermore, the put emphasis on preserving their integrity compared to the benefits of the organization or their followers. This is a habit that should be maintained in a leader’s social life, as ethical infractions can have a negative impact on a leader’s overall reputation. Their ethical behaviour at the workplace spills over to their personal space too.
When politicians lie about their statements, bend the truth or even play semantics, they make this error. While they may have been an ethical leader in their tenure as public representatives, the news of lying or bending the truth taint their reputation anyway (which they usually worsen by attempting to lie more).
Listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, foresight, stewardship, dedication to progress, and community building are just a few of the attributes that a servant leader possesses. These are attributes that can be learned, but must also be internalized. Therefore, most of these attributes would have to be integrated into one’s life outside of the organisation in order to retain uncorrupted values.
Empathy is defined as the ability to perceive the world through the eyes of another person, healing is defined as caring for the well-being of others, and stewardship is defined as taking responsibility for one’s leadership role. Furthermore, dedication to growth implies that leaders care about their followers’ personal and professional development. A servant leader must acquire these attributes into their personality in order to conduct these activities. I do not think that a leader can be empathic, compassionate, and dedicated alone during organisational operation hours, as with ethical behaviour and integrity.
Servant leadership is altruistic, and altruism cannot be practised half-heartedly. Personal values are vital for developing trust, and personal attributes like as honesty and sincerity are qualities that identify a strong servant leader, according to servant leadership theory. This is an ongoing emotional interaction between the followers and the leader.
In short, successful leaders exhibit their personal values inside and outside the organization. Their ethical behaviour and integrity principles are internalized and become part of their value system. To be able to lead effectively, the ethical behaviour and integrity principles create a strong reputation which in turn creates trust which helps to influence followers.
Maintain your integrity to be a successful leader.
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