Leadership and integrity
The Need of Integrity
Recent years evidence a series of shifts in the values people expect to discover in their leaders. Among the shifts we see new emphases on others, on service, on collaboration, and on family values. Some values seem to be perennial, among which we find respect, honesty, and integrity. This shift in values is part of recent theories of leadership that emphasize followers’ attributions to leaders, seeing leader-follower relationships as critical to the understanding of leadership. Nowadays, people want to see that their leaders are genuine, do not need to defend every issue that is questioned, and can maintain their values with humility. Some followers trust a leader based on experience, nowadays followers trust as an act of faith in the sincerity of a leader’s proclaimed values. So, from this perspective, two attitudes are critical to leadership, personal integrity in relation to one’s vision of life, and integrity in relation to the organization’s primary values, issues, and loyalties.
People need to know that their leaders are credible and are true to themselves in what they convey by word and life. Integrity is a constitutive component of leadership. People want to have confidence in their leaders, knowing they will consistently live according to the vision and values they proclaim. Since being an agent of change is essential to leadership, people need to be assured that the individual leading them through change is a person of integrity in terms of the communal vision and values.
So, leadership needs to be an expression of a well developed and defined sense of vocational integrity. Wise transformational leaders who need to constantly deal with ambiguity, with change, and frequently with conflicting solutions need to be people of integrity. Then when they see solutions others do not see, their followers will still trust them. The indispensable quality for leadership that holds everything else together is integrity, the balance between personal and public life.