How’s Your Integrity?

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 double-mindedness.
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?

Practice Leading

Practice your leadership.

Sounds like one of those daft things to say but to become a better leader and to develop the right characteristics, you need to practice.

THIS IS A ‘SHOWING-OFF’ WARNING: when I was younger I played a number of sports to quite a good level. I played badminton for the County. I competed in the Sussex Open Snooker Tournament. I played tennis for the local club.

I had some ability but I never broke through. I didn’t like the practice.

Practice was boring and repetitive.
Practice was not glamourous.
Practice wasn’t competitive.
Practice was time-consuming.
Practice was about coaching, being corrected, being told about every little thing that wasn’t quite right.

BUT one the flip-side….

Practice was essential.
Practice was about improving.
Practice was about messing up when it didn’t matter.
Practice was about increasing my chances for success. 
Practice was about learning new techniques and keeping up to date

I am thankful for the opportunities presented to me as a 19 year old to learn what leadership was about. To be encouraged to have a go. To be allowed to practice. What I have learned on my 25 year journey, the things I am sharing through this blog, have definitely played a major role in shaping me into the leader I am today – hopefully for the better too.

People who practice….

Perfect their leadership art
Rehearse the leadership role to get it right
Apply new techniques as they learn them
Consider all the options
Take on common, tried and tested leadership practices
Implement others ideas to improve their performance 
Check their motives at all times, as to why they are wanting to improve
Exercise their leadership muscles & stretch themselves when appropriate

What do your think to my idea of practicing leading?

Some Benefits of Change

At 19 you feel invincible. The world needs to be ready for the awesomeness that is you.

I can’t really remember what I was like as a 19 year old stepping into leadership for the first time except that I can almost guarantee that change would have been necessary somewhere in my make-up. I am not perfect now, definitely wasn’t then.

Maybe I was a bit precocious. 
Maybe I thought that no one could tell me anything.
Maybe I was of the opinion that I knew what I was doing.
Maybe I felt this is it, I have made it.
Maybe my people skills were not honed yet and I upset people when I said things.
Maybe there were times when my life and my leadership didn’t always marry up. [See last post]

Quietly and carefully those around me changed me. Some more deliberately, others less obviously. There was no formal leadership development programme when I started. It was learn as you go. Change as you go. Or don’t be a leader anymore.

How has it helped me? CHANGE…

CHANGE_TheOtherJC_Feb14

Clarity – focus, sharpness, some clear self-awareness about yourself and your leadership skills
Hard – it’s never easy admitting that you need to change, but if we don’t then we probably won’t improve
Attitude – the right one is essential. If you don’t work on this then your leadership is lost
Normal – as Giuseppe Tomase di Lampedusa in his novel, The Leopard wrote ‘If we want things to stay the same, things will have to change’. Change just needs to become a normal part of our leading. Not just for the sake of it, but so we are always ready to eabrace it
Growth – if we want to grow then we need the uncomfortableness that change often brings. Some stretch and challenge that will inevitably make us more effective as leaders is good
Energy – a change of programme, some new ideas, a different leader, new team members, a shift of focus – all of these can bring fresh energy, passion and life to something that has maybe gone stale

Everything we do is an opportunity to learn and therefore an opportunity to make change. We must aways be open to the need for change and embrace it rather than fight it. It is not inevitable but it is necessary. Recognising the need for change is one thing, in my head I know it’s right. Far off it sounds great. The transition of it in my heart though, that may take a little longer.

And looking at that list again, I’m still in need of learning and changing, perhaps more than I am willing to admit.

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How have you changed as a leader through the years? What would you share that could help others?

19

imagesThis is the age I was when I was given my first leadership opportunity. It was 1989. I had been a Christian (of sorts) for about 3 years. I knew very little. I probably thought I knew everything but in reality I knew nothing. I’m not exactly sure what they saw in a skinny, lanky, 19 year old lad who hadn’t been around long. Even now, looking back I still ask the question – why did they ask me and not someone who had more experience?

Now, 25 years on, I am thankful that they gave me a go. Now, 25 years on, I’m trying to think about what I would say to someone who is 19 and just like me back then, someone who is equally not ready to be pushed into the leadership arena for the first time.

What have I learned on the journey?
What have been the golden moments?
What have been those moments best forgotten?
How would I describe the leadership journey?
What should they expect along the way?

To be honest, I’ve been scribbling this stuff down for the past few years, I’ve just lacked the discipline to pull it all together. But here goes. My life as a leader. Now, who do I think I am? Who am I to share my thoughts?

Me. I’m just someone who has made himself available.
To have a go.
To serve, wherever and whenever. I think I’ve done most things.
To hang around.
To do what needs to be done.
To learn.

Hope you don’t mind me sharing.

Question: How old were you when you were given the opportunity to lead? What do you think they saw in you?