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Power of integrity in leadership

Robert Mandeya:People management issueS

IN my previous instalment a couple of weeks ago, I proffered the issue of “leadership deficit” from a moral and ethical dimension. The recent headlines on corruption, mismanagement and all other business malpractices in state and non-state corporate enterprises points to a crisis of character in today’s political, business and social circles.

As reflected in these headlines the principles of integrity have become almost non-existent in the manner of doing business in Zimbabwe and require serious introspection. The existence of core values, such as ethics, integrity and authenticity in leadership, have become questionable.

A crisis of integrity
Unfortunately, with the manner in which we are going about our business in Zimbabwe, nothing in our conduct seems to measure up to the benchmark of integrity.

In the midst of unexpected events and stressful situations that characterise our environment, our moral compass has been hit to the core and our character has been shredded.

Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be. It is like the roots of a tree which although underground and not visible yet are the biggest supporter providing strength, stability, nourishment and growth to the entire tree. A person with integrity is balanced and complete, with a strong character.

Defining integrity
Integrity is often defined as honesty, yes that is right, but honesty is just a part of integrity.

Honesty is a behavioural pattern whereas integrity comes from the value system of an individual. The greater your integrity the more credibility you will have and the more trust you will inspire. Imagine if this character reflects in your business. However, to further define integrity we cannot solely rely upon honesty, it has to be grouped with three vital qualities namely congruency, humility and courage. These were the traits of some great leaders.

Daring to be different
No doubt many of us “do our best” to do the right thing — when it is easy, when it is convenient, or perhaps because others are watching. Considering that each one of us crafts an ironclad personal code of conduct — in essence, a core value, a “manifesto” of some sort, what will become of the world? What if we all actually took this manifesto to heart without exception or compromise — starting right now and continuing every waking minute of every day?

Imagine the very real personal and professional impact borne of the simple act of unreservedly embracing a rare, refreshing and relentless commitment to “doing the right thing.” Imagine promises always delivered. Imagine strength of character “unplugged.” Imagine the remarkable possibilities?

At the centre of every man’s soul is that innate ability to do things right. Imagine when you can readily distinguish yourself “from the rest” by way of genuine good-faith business dealings founded upon these core values?

End justifies the means
Unfortunately we live in a world where integrity is not talked about nearly enough. We live in a world where “the end justifies the means” has become an acceptable school of thought for far too many.” However, we all have the ability if coupled with the willingness and commitment to take what has unfortunately become the road less travelled. It’s not simply what you do, but how you do it – and whether you do it on such a consistent basis that it becomes your genuine persona, or your “second nature.”

Building strength of character
How does your current modus operandi fare against such an unbridled approach to strength of character? In which direction is your “moral compass” pointing? What does your compass reveal? Are you amongst the “ethical elite” or do you come up short in any respect? Now cast aside your opinion. How would you be judged by those who know you the best — your friends, family and professional colleagues? Will they tell you — and can you handle the truth?

Training in leadership
Great leadership skills training these days focuses on deep down integrity and values to develop a strong leadership character required for team work and team building. Because many organisational leaders are elected either because of popularity or politics, it is not unusual that some of these leaders act expediently rather than always doing the “right thing.”

Since most organisations have not taken sufficient steps to properly qualify their leaders, nor to professionally train them, there is often not only a dearth of qualified leadership, but even more so, there are moral and ethical leadership issues that are also never properly addressed by these “leaders.”

Mandeya is a certified executive leadership coach, corporate education trainer and management consultant and founder of Leadership Institute of Research and Development (LiRD). — robert@lird.co.zw/ or info@lird.co.zw, Facebook: @lirdzim and Mobile/WhatsApp: +263 719 466 925.

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