Leadership Series: (8) Integrity First Element of Credibility.By Victor A. Imhangbe

Integrity is the first element of credibility and a word that is not used much in today’s English. One definition of integrity is: “the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity”. So we can say that a good synonym for integrity is honesty. God cherished people with integrity. This can be found in 1 Kings 9:4-5. For a politician to be relevance they must gain the people loyalty and such loyalty will be reciprocated if such person is upright in the eyes of the people which are integrity.

 A key element of credibility involves transparency, trustworthiness, and moral predictability.  We feel good about people who embody the phrase, “what you see is what you get.”

From Webster’s perspective, integrity is the essential element. The dictionary definition of credibility is the power to inspire belief.  For example, a credible witness is one whom we have reason to believe.  Credibility implies a commitment to truth, fairness, and objectivity.  In addition, we assign high credibility to people who have clear moral standards and who are known to stick to them.

Be careful not to underestimate the importance of honesty and integrity in the workplace.  People who have a track record of being objective and truthful are perceived as more credible than those who don’t.  Companies who open their books to union representatives are more credible than those who don’t.  Conclusions based on scientific or systematic inquiry are more credible than those based on subjective judgments.

Integrity is one of the yardsticks to measure great leader and is one of the major leadership traits. The concept of integrity is focus on consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes. It signifies a deep obligation and responsibility to do the right thing at the right time and for the right reason, notwithstanding the circumstances. Leaders with integrity are incorruptible and incapable of breaking the trust of those who have confided in them. Every human is born with a conscience and therefore the ability to know right from wrong. Choosing the right, regardless of the consequence, is the hallmark of integrity.

I have gone through an article written by Michael Hyatt; titled “10 Mistakes leaders should avoid at all cost”. He made emphasis on the importance of integrity in leadership as follows:

There are many things you can lack and still steer clear of danger. Integrity isn’t one of them. Establish a set of sound ethics policies, integrate them into all business processes, communicate them broadly to all employees, and make clear that you will not tolerate any deviation from any of them. Then live by them.

According to him, you have to carve out time to set the “integrity agenda,” for your own edification, and then to make it clear to the organization. I took for granted people would be able to figure out right from wrong. The problem is, in the middle of a hectic and pressure filled quarter, I myself failed to figure it out. The major mistake many managers made is to spend time to draft articulate policies strictly for the employees. You cannot set policies that employees need to live by, and not live by them yourself. Such policy is doom to flop due to selective implementation at the long run. Policy is like laws governing the operation of corporate organisation; everybody should be subjected to it.

As opine by Sherrie Scott: honesty is an optimal example of integrity in the workplace. Honesty encourages open communication between employers, employees and co-workers. It leads to effective relationships in an organization. When workers are honest about the various aspects of their jobs that need improvement, employers can take action and help. Employers that are open about company policies and changes that affect the organization are more trustworthy from the employees’ perspective.

Making reference to Michael Ray Hopkin article: titled “Leadership and integrity”. He dives into the problems that leaders create when they lie to their people, as noted by: Andy Andrews; the author of “How Do You Kill 11 Million People? He does a great job of describing the problems that are frequently horrible and wide-spread in nature. These problems usually come from a lack of integrity and character. He focuses primarily on the need for leaders to tell the truth and followers to recognize falsehoods and do something about them. “If you don’t know the truth, its absence can perpetually place you in bondage.”

According to researchers Kouzes and Posner, the number one trait people are looking for in a leader is honesty.  We know from experience that one failure to disclose an important truth can ruin an entire career.

Of all the knowledge of integrity and honesty known to us, it is practically impossible to make any significant different if top manager or management does not lead by example. Bosses and personnel can display integrity in the workplace through leading by example. When individuals lead by example, they set the foundation for appropriate workplace behaviour. Leading by example improves personal awareness, sensitivity to others and accountability which are all necessary for ethical behavior and integrity.

HOW INTEGRITY TRANSLATE TO BUSINESS SUCCESS

Corporate value that is unique to business executives is integrity. It is obvious to business leaders; that honesty and integrity are the livewire of leadership success. Leaders hold firmly to what they believe in.

A case in point is about; Jon Huntsman Sr. Huntsman is a multibillionaire; who started a chemical company from zero, he nurtured it into a $12 billion enterprise. He wrote a book, title; “Winners Never Cheat”, and the book is laced with stories taken from his own personal experience in which he steadfastly refused to compromise his principles. Huntsman says that integrity is the reason that he has been as successful as he is. According to him;

““There are no moral shortcuts in the game of business or life,” he writes. “There are, basically, three kinds of people, the unsuccessful, the temporarily successful, and those who become and remain successful. The difference is character.”

Practical examples are bound of politicians that stole heavily and stash the money away from public treasury. The moment they are out of power, all the stolen monies are fritters away or mismanaged; because the ability to create wealth and get unemployed people engage is lacking. These set of people are overnight billionaire without having or managing a single known business venture.

In today business world, there are instances of occasional success as a result of dishonesty and cheats. Unfortunately, the success story does not last. This is a typical different between success built on integrity as compare to deceit. A case in point is that of Enron. For so many years, Enron was cited as one of America’s most innovating and daring companies. The CEO of the company knew the most important people in the country, including the President of the United States. Except that Enron’s success was built on lies, and the “winners” who headed the company are case studies in lack of integrity. In real life, it is sad to note that leaders with integrity may not be the most famous or flashy of leaders, and they don’t really give a damn about not being a celebrity, but what is of utmost important to them is doing the right thing. Integrity means doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. And that’s what makes enduring and lasting success.

How to boost your Credibility In Acquiring Integrity

  • Invest time in clarifying your values and examining your behaviour in light of them
  • Make a commitment to consistently tell the truth
  • Build a reputation for ethical behaviour
  • If you make a mistake, be truthful about it rather than cover it up
  • Give credit to colleagues and subordinates for their work
  • When you change your stance on a position, do so for objective rather than political reasons.

It is clear to us here that to build enduring and lasting success, there is no short cut.Success built on integrity stand the test of time and it last longer. In our next series, we shall be looking into the second element of credibility which is competence as one of the major feature of a leader. Your opinion and feedback is expected on the comment column. Do you like the piece? Kindly share.

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Victor Imhangbe

Hey, there! I am Victor Imhangbe and I am the brain behind this great lifestyle blog where you get to read everything from life to education to fashion and pretty much about everything else. I invite you to keep keeping tab on our latest news and updates!

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