“It takes time to build trust but a moment to lose it. A leader must be able to display integrity in pursuit of vision, because it is more important to be trustworthy than at the top of the food chain.”Odell Palacio, Millenial Kingdom Leader
In this extremely “visible” day and age – where any and every aspect of our lives can be viewed, shared, and stored for the masses to see – at any given moment – can be a little unnerving. Yet, at the same time, this visibility is – dare I admit – selfishly gratifying, and at the same time, also incredibly useful. I mean – nearly 12 years of my life is stored in pictures on Facebook!
Unfortunately, in our obsession with instantly reviewing and creating how our lives are portrayed, this visibility sometimes comes at the expense of not being “wholly” true. Visibility is like living in a world where we communicate through the venue of one large virtual yearbook (except you like the picture above your name), and your very personal and professional life is dictated by the tag lines people write in it.
However, in an effort to balanced, this visibility can also broaden our reach beyond measures we would have never had before, and ultimately expand our ability to be influentially visionary.
In all the achieving and doing, a key principle in leadership that must be re-integrated into successful vision planning, and execution, is the self-check of integrity. Unfortunately, this valuable quality in leadership, sometimes becomes low on the prioritiy scale (whether intentionally or unintentionally). And, unfortunately, that self-check can sometimes arrive too late, and, instead, have the tendency to spiral into a massive societal scandal as the end result.
Simply put, integrity is that internal moral compass that guides you when no one else is watching, when everyone is assuming, and when filters have done their job to mask our flaws.
By definition, integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness; the state of being whole and undivided (“Integrity.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2018.). Yet, it goes without saying (though we can sometimes live as if it doesn’t exist) that we all have errors in our past, moments of failure, and decisions that were less than desirable. And no, no one – I mean no one – is perfect.
Yet, owning up is not just about airing out all your baggage, but, instead, about being consistent in the good and bad.
We all need to recognize that integrity is not so much about perfection, but instead about what steers and maps out our present responses, future decisions, and – essentially – every aspect of our life – regardless of the circumstances. It embodies the quality of our character, and not just the quantity of our ideas.
Integrity, in its essence, should be the driving motivation behind gaining trust and support in our journey to being visionary leaders.
Without integrity of character, it doesn’t matter how great of an orator you may be, or how relatable you might be. Because, at the end of the day, without the bottom line trust in character, it will be difficult to do sustainable business, build networks, or be positively influential. Yes, you may initially get the deal, but it will be challenging to last for long.
I know what you’re saying, this doesn’t feel so skill-based and necessary in our tech savvy, innovative world – where our identity can be changed instantly (whether desired or not). But, we all have to admit, we want authenticity. We want what is said, to simply be what is done. And we want true and complete follow through, or at least the boldness to admit when things don’t and won’t work out. However, we all have to be willing to both “own up” to that demand, as much as feel entitled to it by others.
At the end of the day – your character and your integrity is truly what will determine the longevity of your vision, and ultimately, the impact of your influence. So how will yours play out?
Consistency is key, trust is instrumental, and integrity is foundational to being a truly visionary leader.
Do you own up to your mistakes? Do you work to repair wrongs? Do you conduct business or portray your life in a way that is consistent publicly and privately? Now is always a good place to start. And I’ll do the same.
Article originally published on LinkedIn January 31, 2018, and modified for purposes of this publication.