- Written by Ron
- Published: 18 Sep 2013
Integrity defines your leadership
I am always disappointed when I read in the papers of the misdeeds of our elected officials as well as federal senators. I can add to this the misappropriate conduct and indulgences of other senior officials in government and our public institutions that are commonly reported in the media.
We have senators who seem to think it their God-given right to pay all of their personal and household expenses from the public purse, even though compensated handsomely for the few hours that they actually get involved in anything approaching what you or I would call ‘real work’. We have cabinet ministers who feel empowered to grant business to their friends and supporters, deputy ministers who hire their family, personal pals and neighbors… senior officials who, like the pharos of old, spend taxpayer funds lavishly as they overbuild their organizations in an attempt to enhance their own personal ‘stature’ and importance. Sadly, this occurs at not only the federal level but at provincial and municipal levels as well.
So let’s consider…just what is integrity anyway? The best definition I’ve ever heard of this characteristic is this: ‘doing the right thing when nobody is watching’. Seems pretty basic, but it’s surprising how many people given power and authority in our government often fail this test. I’m sure this occurs in private industry as well.
When I worked for government a few years ago, I found myself in a position where a new boss was pressuring me to put through bogus journal entries to reclassify expenses from one account that he had overspent and mismanaged, to another. Authorizing the entries would have been an unethical act for a professionally qualified accountant, not to mention illegal. I was the senior financial officer in that department, and when I refused to do as my boss directed I was banished to a minor training role in a remote part of the department, losing my responsibility for almost one hundred staff and completely submerged in the ‘corporate bone pile’.
In the result, I had retained my integrity but at a great cost- I would never land another professional accounting job again. Undeterred though, I resolved that keeping my integrity in tact was worth any cost or setback that I might suffer for taking the moral high road. Thirteen years later I feel no differently, and in fact submit that the career roller coaster I jumped on delivered me to the door of my truest calling and where I would find within myself deep passion for sharing insights with others and promoting the development of great leadership and customer service skills…
And if you’d like to see a happy ending to this story, there is one- after several years in exile from my previous finance role, my corrupt boss was walked to the door by the Deputy Minister and given an abrupt and unceremonious departure from what till then had been a very lucrative career in the public service. I felt pretty good on getting that news, I have to admit.
I found myself truly motivated by what had happened to me… I realized for example, that without Lex Luther, Superman wouldn’t have really been that ‘super’. Having had the experience of such a negative, self-serving and manipulative boss, completely devoid of any small measure of ‘integrity’ I became strongly motivated to help the world by building stronger and more positive leaders. I especially wanted to develop leaders who reflect great qualities as human beings- the greatest of these qualities which I target continues to be simply doing the right thing, in all circumstances and whether someone happens to be looking or not.
Bosses that truly have ‘integrity’ provide powerful role models to other members of their organizations to also build and reflect that quality in their work and in their lives. Simply by being honest and trustworthy and consistently doing the right thing, they impart valuable lessons about how to behave and act. When they make a hiring decision for example, they hire the ‘best candidate’ not simply their nephew or the one they’ve been most friendly with. When they make a spending decision it is not based upon how it benefits them personally, but instead that it will give the employer the biggest bang for the buck. They never indulge or try to enrich themselves inappropriately or unethically through their business decisions. Their eye is clearly on the ball- which for them is their job role, objectives and what is best for the organization itself.
The world cries out for better leaders- be one of them by doing the right thing at all times and helping others to find that direction in their lives and careers. As always, happy thoughts to you!