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From the monthly archives:

April 2011

Personal Leadership Characteristics – Integrity

by Gary Bamberger on April 19, 2011

On my last blog, I provided my definition of personal leadership.  Here’s a snippet of my view on personal leadership:

Personal leadership is about:

  • Taking a leadership role in your own life.
  • Having a clear picture of what you want to achieve and what success means to you.
  • How you want to ‘be” while blazing your trail towards achievement and your definition of success.
  • Taking personal responsibility for your own life.
  • Thoughtfully choosing your response to the world around you, even when your “buttons” get pushed
  • Taking action and moving forward towards the life you want to create for yourself.
  • Having the courage to risk failure in the pursuit of your dreams
  • Having the wisdom to apply the learning from your failure.

I also  included a list of the characteristics that are incorporated in personal leadership.

With this post, I’m beginning the series of blogs to give a little more info about each of these characteristics from my perspective.  What’s my definition for each? Why are they important?  How might someone develop these traits / characteristics in themselves?

The first trait that I’m tackling is integrity.  In order to transform your life, you must have a high level of integrity.  All of the books I’ve read around transformation and leadership point to integrity as a foundational component.  You must be brutally honest and candid with yourself.

Let’s start with some definitions for integrity:

One of my favorite quotes that defines integrity is “doing the right thing even if no one is watching.”  For me, this quote describes the depth that breadth of integrity.

The thing that strikes me about these definitions is the ambiguity of them.  Who defines the moral values, the ethical code or the right thing?  This is very subjective and really based on the context of the situation.  In order to live a life of integrity, therefore, a person must understand his/her core values.  These become the guiding principles around which each person’s definition of integrity is built.  Core values are what guides a person on how to “be” as s/he blazes a unique trail through life.  And, how to “be” in life ultimately impacts how things are accomplished.

How does this apply to personal leadership?  Imagine the dilemma you would have if you lacked integrity…even with yourself.  I would imagine people choosing to live their lives without integrity would spend a lot of time self-justifying their behavior to themselves and to other people.  In reality, only you really know what your motivations are when you do something.  Do you do the “right” thing in your mind?  Or, do you justify your behavior because you have an ulterior motive or you deem someone as “unworthy” of your help and support?  Without integrity, you would be using the wrong topographical map to blaze your trail through life.

In my experience, there are times when people act in a way that is not in full integrity.  I believe it happens to everyone.  In my experience, usually it’s not malicious or pre-meditated.  It’s caused by a compromise between values.  When I recognize that this has happened in my life, the questions I ask myself are what motivated the behavior and what have I learned from the experience.  I want to make sure that if I have an “indiscretion” with regards to integrity on some level, that I am able to figure out the circumstances, determine what led to it so that I can learn from the experience, make it right if need be and move ahead by applying my learning.

What is your view of integrity and how it fits in with your desire to transform your life?  How do you handle situations where you realize you were out of integrity in some way?  What support would be helpful to you in living your life with integrity more fully?