As discussed before, leadership is not about levels but more about layers. Lots of different layers. The challenge with layers is that they take time. A level can possibly be won quickly, through a promotion or just because someone else quits. It doesn’t always mean you have what it takes for people to want to follow you.
Layers are not so much about what you do but more about why you do it. They are defining who you are. They are your character and people follow your character, your person, the who and the why, more than they do the what you are doing.
At 19 you don’t really think about integrity. I know I didn’t. I would have been more conscious of how I lived a very hypocritical lifestyle. I was doing leadership as a role but it was just something I did, it wasn’t who I was. At least not yet. At 19, when you first step into leadership, you don’t really understand how everything is connected. That even though you are successful at the doing, if another aspect of who you are is in competition with that, then ultimately you fail. Just think politicians. Think sportsmen. Too often they are great at how they perform but fail miserably in being people you would actually want to follow. They lack good character. They lack integrity.
I am not perfect. Wasn’t at 19 and even though 25 years have passed, I’m still not. In the beginning I didn’t consider my integrity but now I do. It’s taken 25 years to earn it, to grow it as a layer. I have become aware how some foolish moments could definitely give it a hefty dent or see me lose it completely.
Integrity takes time.
Integrity has a cost.
Integrity covers everything.
Integrity is a choice.
Integrity is a personal discipline.
I can’t make you a person of integrity, I can only sell you the benefits.
No skeletons in the cupboard.
No awkward conversations.
No moments of indecision.
No more living two different lives.
Integrity helps make your yes is yes and your no a no. Boundary lines for your life and how you will live are drawn when you have integrity. You know who you are and other choices have to line up with that. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about others but it does mean that sometimes what you care about has to come first.
Integrity comes from your why and it influences your what and your how. The why of my life is built on my Christian faith and the lifestyle that Jesus would ask me to live. I want my life to be whole and complete, in line with the word of God, thereby helping me maintain my integrity. I hope people see that. If I ever doubt they do then I have some work on my hands.
If you desire to be a leader who others want to follow, then work on your integrity. Who you are when no-one else sees. In word, in deed, in every facet of your life.
If you want help in unpacking this idea further then I would recommend a book by Dr Henry Cloud called Integrity. Read it with a willingness to be honest about yourself, to make the hard calls and make changes if necessary. Identify those areas where you lack integrity and grow a new layer of leadership. It will make so much difference, you will wonder why you never did this before.
Q: What do you think about integrity? Why is it so important? How is it challenging for you?