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Jeff Leake #Leadershipweek

November 7, 2009

Jeff Leake is the author of this post for #leadershipweek. I want to thank Jeff for taking the time to participate in this event. Please check out his blog and follow him on Twitter here.

Integrity and Leadership

Integrity is one of those foundational qualities of life that is most noticeable when it is absent, but hard to define when it is present.

It is a character quality that is woven into the fabric of a person or organization and is not necessarily visible immediately on the surface.  But its presence is like the stitching in a garment, it is not readily visible but it has an affect to hold it all together.

What is integrity?  A simple definition is this:  Integrity is when your words and your actions match.

A related word is the word ‘integrated’.  Integrity happens when a person’s values are integrated consistently throughout their life. Their values show through the same in their words, as in their attitudes, as in their motives, as in their actions.  When integrity is present in a person or an organization – trust is established, credibility grows, values are reproduced, and people feel safe.

When integrity is missing, even in a small way – trust is broken, suspicion develops, values seem hollow, and people are insecure. There can be temporary success without integrity, but if the stitching begins to unravel…eventually the entire garment will fall apart.  So what do we do to guard integrity?

1.  Listen To Your Conscience – Integrity most often unravels slowly, like the pulling on a thread starts with just small fraying.  The only way to prevent this is to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and the activity of your conscience.  The rule is that when your conscience is offended, and you respond to it -its voice remains strong in your life.  But when you ignore your conscience, its voice becomes a whisper and larger offenses seem natural.

2.  Repair Small Breaches – When you become aware of an offense, an area of dishonesty, an exaggeration, or misstep, take action on it.  Tie up that lose end.  Apologize.  Make it right.  Correct your exaggeration.  Do what’s necessary to maintain integrity in the smallest areas of life.

3.  Remain Teachable – If integrity is a value, you will be thankful for anyone who points out to you when it appears to be missing.  The best way to ensure this is to invite accountability from trusted mentors or friends.  But even critics can be a gift if we sort through the criticism to throw out the garbage and yet hold onto some element of truth.

4.  Build Firewalls – It’s best to eliminate temptation before it has the chance to arise.  Systems can be put in place to prevent weak moments from becoming moments of failure.  Put policies and protections in place.  Have two people handle the money and sign checks.  Never spend time alone with a person of the opposite sex (who is not your spouse).  Invest in some accountability software for your computer.  There are many such rules that provide needed protection.

5.  Reject Shortcuts – Many times we compromise because we want something that we don’t feel that we can get without some quick aggressive action.  Lack of integrity can be a sign of lack of trust in God.  It says, ‘I can’t wait for God to provide this for me righteously, so I will seek to obtain it on my own.’  When we choose integrity, we are saying, ‘I would rather maintain the favor of God on my life than obtain anything else in the short-term…because God will always take care of my needs.’

I’m not sure anyone can completely claim total integrity in all areas.  But it is a value that we should consistently pursue. I pray God helps you grow this area of your life today.

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