How to Lead With Integrity

Integrity is a quality that encompasses truthfulness, credibility and sincerity. In a leadership position, integrity manifests itself in the way a leader speaks to, guides and reacts to group members. Learning to lead with integrity requires developing self-awareness, adhering to a strict moral code and communicating truthfully with group members, regardless of the complexity of the situation or the possibility of negative consequences. Here are some strategies for leading with integrity.


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    Examine your moral principles. People are raised with or exposed to specific principles regarding right and wrong. These influences may stem from a specific religious upbringing, philosophical beliefs or general observations about the types of behaviors that accelerate progress and development in society.
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    Assess the degree to which you adhere to your own moral code. For example, a person might value truthfulness, but withhold important information when truth telling may interfere with being hired or promoted. To manifest integrity, behaviors must be aligned with moral beliefs.
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    Establish a code of values and behaviors for your group members. Whether you are leading a sports team, managing a group of engineers or parenting children, leading with integrity requires outlining a standard of behavior by which others can abide.
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    Lead by example. Adhere at all times to the behavioral standard you have established for the group.
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    Create an atmosphere of open communication.
    • Communicate authentically. Be open with group members regarding issues and policies that affect them. Keeping secrets or hiding important information can lead to an environment of mistrust.
    • Listen attentively to others. Open communication involves the exchange of information. Leading with integrity requires hearing what others have to say and creating an environment that fosters open sharing.
    • Practice tolerance for divergent views. Group members will inevitably have different opinions and thoughts, and may not always agree with you or your decisions. Allow them to hold their opinions without fearing ridicule or rejection.
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    Praise group members for high quality performances. Gain the trust of group members by acknowledging their contributions.
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    Choose leadership positions that allow you to lead with integrity. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to practice integrity in a position in which you are pressured by upper management to conceal important facts or engage in immoral or illegal activities.
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    Speak to your superiors about integrity issues. Some environments lack integrity due to inattention to the company's moral code or values. Suggest to upper management to increase attention to integrity issues by offering mandatory classes or holding relevant discussions in company meetings.
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    Surround yourself with morally upright people. This may mean that you change jobs, limit time spent with certain colleagues or make a special effort to hire honest and trustworthy employees.
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    Study the lives of leaders known for their integrity. Gain inspiration by learning about leaders who delivered difficult news, chose honesty over financial gain or refused to take credit for other people's work.
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    Examine the mistakes of fallen leaders. Study the various examples of business and political leaders who sacrificed their integrity and succumbed to desires for wealth, power or fame.
    • Consider the same scenarios for yourself. Decide how you would have behaved or reacted in each case.

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Categories: Leadership and Mentoring