Let me up the ante: When you reach the crossroads of choosing between towing the line or taking the higher road and doing the right thing (even when nobody's looking), what then?
Albert Einstein once said, "Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters."
I admit it, if I said I was living in total integrity, I'd be lying. We're human and flawed, we cut corners on the truth once in a while. However, staying true to yourself and your values, even when the results are unpopular, should be a nonnegotiable.
The hardest part is that integrity is a choice we make, and it's a choice we need to keep making till the day we die.
If living in integrity strikes your fancy, or perhaps you're just now realizing your penchant of burning bridges, making enemies, or letting people down is linked to a lack of integrity, character development is just around the corner.
Here's what to do if you really want to experience an integrity makeover that will lead to breakthrough success.
Listen to your heart.
Leading with integrity means that you don't question yourself. When you listen to your heart and do the right thing, you simplify your life and live in peace. Your actions become open for everyone to see, and you don't have to worry about hiding anything. As a leader, what is your heart telling you to do, or not to do?
Be accountable for your actions.
When leaders operate from integrity, they gain the trust of other people, especially those they work with closely. Others see them as dependable and accountable. Trust develops, people feel safe in their presence, and they gain influence with followers.
Live your values.
A leader who walks the talk -- who embodies his values daily -- exemplifies moral authority and ethical leadership. This person is a role model that people gravitate toward because she commands respect. People long to work for a boss who personifies integrity through values of honesty, trust, and service.
Stop committing to more than you can handle.
Leaders with integrity know their boundaries. If they don't have the time, people, or resources to follow through on a promise, they don't take on that commitment. The voice of integrity will have the foresight and courage to say "no" when their plate is too full. The flip side of this -- failing to follow through on commitments and losing people's trust -- is exactly what they want to avoid.
Walk in truth.
When leaders walk in integrity, their moral compass kicks in to discern between right and wrong, what is fair and just, and which path to take that will benefit people for the right reasons. Walking in truth doesn't exploit, manipulate, or wrong others. As the wisest King in history once said, "Wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge [truth] will be pleasant to your soul."
Be diligent with your work hours.
As a leader, working diligently during work hours exemplifies integrity. Too many chats around the water cooler, too many two-hour lunches and breaks for personal texting, too much surfing on Facebook and Twitter -- all of these detract from work and reflect poorly on leadership and the ability to steward time well.
Meet your deadlines.
Leaders with integrity schedule their work or personal life to meet deadlines. If, for whatever reason, they can't meet a deadline, their integrity shows up in communication: notifying team members or clients of a delay, and laying out which steps will be taken to make sure the project or task is completed.
So what's your experience with integrity? Has your integrity been tested to the limit? Leave a comment.