Leadership vs. Management: Part 3 – Integrity

In keeping with my current topic, I’ll discuss integrity as a trait of a good leader.

I appreciate everyone checking in and reading my articles and commenting. While I do not necessarily agree with everyone’s comments, I will post them on here anyway as my articles are my opinion based on my own experiences and reading. Dissenting opinions are what keeps this world turning in the right direction. If everyone agreed on everything, group-think would prevail and nothing would ever get accomplished.

in·teg·ri·ty [in-teg-ri-tee]–noun  (from Dictionary.com)
1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty

Integrity is a word that seems to have diminishing value these days. It used to be of the utmost importance to everyone, but now, our society seems to let more and more things slide on by as we become more and more desensitized. This is really a sad state of affairs for our countries and workplaces.

What does it actually mean to have integrity? The above definition is accurate, but simple. Reading it requires little to no additional thought. Ok, so if I adhere to a moral and ethical “principle” I will have soundness of moral “character” and honesty. Great, I can live with that. When I go to work, I expect my employees to work. In turn, I give them an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. I treat them fairly and even make an attempt to understand their individual needs. I “clock in” on time and leave “on time” and never bill hours that I didn’t actually work. I tell the truth about my project’s progress and the status of the budget, even if the news is bad. I have integrity, right?


As Lee Corso, from ESPN Game Day would say, “Not so fast my friend!”

To complete my illustration, suppose I finish my day’s work, get in my car and toss an old empty cup on the ground because it’s just cluttering up my floor? Then suppose, I take my car and race a “break-neck” speeds well above the speed limit to get to my next destination. What if my next destination is to the arms of a woman that is not my wife? Where is my integrity in all of these actions? Sure, I make good decisions at work, but what about the rest of the time. What do I do when no one is actually watching me, or at least when I think no one is watching?

Integrity is who we are when nobody is watching us!

Ladies and gentlemen, I say integrity goes beyond the simple definition as provided by www.dictionary.com. Integrity is who we are when nobody is watching us! Integrity defines who we are in the eyes of other people. If someone sees me dumping trash, they might be offended and discusted. As I’m speeding down the highway, I’m breaking the law which is set for my safety and the safety of other drivers. I do not have the right to put anyone else in harm’s way, but that’s exactly what I’d be doing. And what about the other woman? Don’t you think my wife might have something to say about my integrity then?  Our families should be the first to be able to trust us. If they cannot trust us, how should we expect others to? Do you want your employees to trust you and listen to you?

I call each of you out, right now, to investigate your own integrity. What do you do when you think no one is looking or paying attention. If there are items in your life that need to change, CHANGE THEM. Get over yourself and think of what others might perseve you are doing. Establish integrity at home, within your friendship circles, and at work. This is an important step anybody can take to move themself from a simple manager to an effective leader. A good leader, with unquestioning integrity, will take a team to great hights, not to mention, the teamwork that builds upon that integrity and adopts it as its own.

Project managers have to take this integrity to an even higher level. As being typically “temporary,” project managers have a reputation that typically precedes them in any business opportunity. I once knew a project manager at a firm in Tulsa, OK. He seemed to know what he was doing, but one day, I found an instant messaging client on his computer that he left on while we chatted about server upgrades. While we were talking, chime after chime after chime came in as his IM client lit up with girls wanting to chat. He was all too happy to oblige, and make no bones about it. It was his “smoke break.” There are two problems here, one is that he’s at work, using company resouces, and company time to fool around with girls of unknown age on the Internet. Secondly, and most importantly, HE WAS MARRIED. Once I found this out, his integrity was shot and so was his credibility.

Well, that’s all for this edition. I hope you’ll come back for part 4 – Accountability

Have a great rest-of-the-week and a safe week-end.



integrity. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved September 17, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/integrity

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