According to the world’s foremost expert on the subject of leadership – John C Maxwell – integrity is the most important aspect of leadership. Integrity means that your words match your actions, that your character matches your words, that you do what you say you will do.
For you to lead people, they need to trust you. Trust is an incredibly fragile thing. One dishonest action and trust is lost. Two or three perceived dishonesties or questionable acts will cause people to question whether or not they can trust you.
In Hawaii, there was a local musician named Brother Iz (Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole, yes I had to look that up). His most famous song was his remake of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” performed on the ukulele. But one of his other songs was a song called Johnny Mahoi. It’s a song about a bright young boy that falls in with the wrong crowd, joins a gang and gets killed in a fight. Tragic story, right? The problem, is that like most songs played on the ukulele, it is a happy, upbeat tune. The words do not match the music. Because of that disconnect, the message of the song is not particularly impactful.
It’s the same way with people. If your words don’t match the music behind it, you are seen as lacking integrity and people will not trust you. When you genuinely care about people they can tell. When you talk negatively about people behind their backs, they can tell. Because the music in your voice doesn’t match the words you are speaking.
If you are a boss and you tell your employees that they need to be at work on time, but you are routinely late, you lose integrity in the eyes of your employees. Some of them will comply, some of them will not. The ones that do not will feel justified in being as late as you.
If you tell your children to be honest, but they witness you lying to somebody, this will almost certainly cause them to rebel.
Once you lose integrity, you lose trust. Once you lose trust, you lose the ability to influence positively.
Some very simple yet profound words to live by: “Say what you believe. Do what you say.” In fact, you should go and tweet that right now.
In addition to integrity, what else would you consider to be a vital aspect of leadership?