The first key characteristic of great leaders, as well as the most fundamental and important characteristic is integrity. Why is that? Integrity builds the valuable trust inside an organization which is mandatory to creating high performing teams. Followers use integrity as a baseline for whom they will follow, give their loyalty, and use their skills. The most important responsibility of the CEO, and subsequently the other executive level leaders, is to be the example and insist on the integrity that will build and fuel this trust.
In The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner (2007) reported on surveys of over 75,000 people around the globe when they asked the question: What do you most look for and admire in a leader? The leadership characteristic most often chosen was honesty, which directly aligns with integrity.
Simons (2008) in The Integrity Dividend argued that integrity is the predominant characteristic that ―touches every aspect of your business and, when practiced properly, enhances both the value of the business and yields a significant financial dividends.
A friend of mine was talking to my niece and she described integrity as “doing the right thing when no one is looking”. Over the years she has said this often to her children and to her employees. I agree, and I would add that it isn’t just habit or following the rules, you have to know the right thing in the core of your being. The right thing has unbendable moral and ethical principles behind it.
Watch for the next installment of Integrity – Establishing your integrity.
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Gail A. Froelicher is Founder, CEO and PathFinder of Kinetic Insights, LLC. For over 11 years, Gail and her team of PathFinders have journeyed with their customers to forge successful paths in rapidly changing business environments.