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Defining Integrity in Leadership


A group of business leaders

As a leader, whether in business or the private sector, the importance of integrity cannot be overstated. It’s a highly valued virtue that guides an individual’s actions and decision-making, especially when faced with challenges.


So, let's take a closer look at leadership integrity, answering the question, “Why is integrity important in leadership?” In the end, you should clearly understand the connection between leadership and integrity.


What Does Integrity in Leadership Mean?

Integrity in leadership means being honest and uncompromising with your subordinates or colleagues, regardless of the odds. A leader with integrity believes in fairness and justice and is mindful of building a healthy reputation.


Integrity begins with respect for oneself and those under your care and leadership. Then, it extends to the willingness to take the hit when things go awry. It doesn’t matter who makes the decision, provided the decision follows your moral code.


Sometimes, it’s challenging to maintain integrity in leadership. However, the importance is far-reaching. With a focus on integrity, the following occur:


You earn credibility: Stakeholders and clients see an honest and trustworthy leader as credible. In fact, if you have a track record for being honest, you could win future investments and deals without hassle. This is because your network of investors see you as an authority and trust your judgment.


Productivity will thrive: Another important element of maintaining leadership integrity is fostering productivity and healthy relationships. As a leader with integrity, you command respect. When there is respect, those under you tend to follow your instructions. This, in turn, encourages cooperation and team spirit.


Positive work culture flourishes: Sometimes, decisions are tough and bitter, even if they benefit a company over the long term. A leader who upholds strong values will encourage the sharing of ideas and transparency, which will help foster an open and positive work environment.


Integrity and the Role of Value-Based Leadership

There is a thin line between integrity and value-based leadership. Some may even see both concepts as the same. Value-based leadership emphasizes a leader’s personal values and their impact on the team. Integrity is a part of these values passed down the pipeline.


Value-based leadership is a philosophy and mindset in which leaders apply integrity or personal values in their day-to-day lives. These values eventually reflect in their businesses, and as a result, positively affect the lives of other organization members and the outcomes of their choices.


What Are the Five Key Principles of Integrity in Leadership?

For your leadership to be certified as integrity-driven, it must abide by the following principles:


Accountability: Leaders with integrity are ever-ready to take the blame or responsibility when things do not go in their favor instead of pushing blame to others. They understand that mistakes are part of business, admit when they are wrong, and take criticism. This can be ego-bruising most times, but in the end, it’ll teach your followers to also answer to the consequences of their actions or decisions.


Empathy: Integrity leadership encourages business owners to choose their words carefully when addressing subordinates. Even in discipline, show compassion. Sometimes, try walking in your workers’ shoes so that you are considerate when dealing out disciplinary actions.


Competence: To be empathetic, you must be competent. This means leading by example and honoring your commitments. You could join your workers in getting your hands dirty. This will also help you bond with them and teach or learn new things.


Honesty: As a virtue, honesty ensures you encourage open communication and truthfulness among teams in your organization. By being honest yourself, you embody value-based leadership principles that pass down to all departments in your organization.


Fairness: As a leader, you’ll always face conflict in your workplace. An honest leader is just. He or she listens to both sides involved in the conflict and investigates the matter carefully before finalizing a decision.


Many entrepreneurs or leaders claim to have integrity, but this is just on paper. Integrity is a repeat process carried out for as long as you remain in power or any position in an organization.


Measuring the integrity of a leader involves observing how consistently they apply integrity when situations challenge their morality and ethics. You could also consider how much they uphold value-based leadership in their business or personal lives.


Get Mentored on Leadership Integrity

Leadership integrity is about abiding by a moral code that guides your decisions and entrepreneurial interest. This code ensures you do the right thing when faced with a complicated task. However, building integrity is a bold step that requires proper coaching and training.


You also need to party with the right network of business owners who show integrity in leadership examples daily. In that case, consider joining EO Boston and learning about our members. It's one of the biggest networks of Boston entrepreneurs where you get leadership mentorship and so much more. See if you qualify to join.

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