Leading others by example requires personal integrity

Integrity isn’t something you demonstrate at home and then set on a shelf at work. The word shares the root with an old mathematical term – integer. It’s a whole number. It isn’t divided.

When it comes to being principled and ethical, you are the master of your destiny. Other people and external forces might test it in various ways, but ultimately you alone control your integrity.

There are many things you can’t control. You can’t control what people say or think about you. You can’t control decisions prospective clients make. You can’t control your competitors’ marketing tactics. You can’t control the economy, the stock market or the weather.

In the midst of an ever-changing and uncertain environment, there is one thing over which you have absolute control – your integrity.

This is a good way to think of us as leaders when it comes to integrity. People of integrity don’t live divided lives; their morals, ethics and treatment of others are the same wherever they are and whatever they’re doing.

Some people joke the Golden Rule is “He who has the gold makes the rules,” but life and work are much better for all when we live by the original: Do to others what you want them to do to you.

When you follow the Golden Rule and live with integrity, you set an example that has a far greater impact than any words you could ever speak. It sounds simple, but it’s absolutely true. And it applies to so many areas of leadership:

There are universally transferable fundamental truths about how you treat people in both the business world and in the larger scheme of things.”

  • It’s the No. 1 motivational principle. If you want to push your people to a new performance level, get motivated to grow and develop yourself. Remember, your people will do what your people see you do.
  • It’s the No. 1 training principle. When someone asks me, “How do you train your people?” I don’t think twice. People do what people see. If they see their leaders constantly learning and acquiring new skills and competencies, they’ll be inspired to do the same.

This is why it is so important for me to live in the way I want my followers to live and do their work. My life is the training ground for how my followers will live theirs.

  • It’s the No. 1 mentoring principle. What do you do when you mentor? You flesh out your life for them. You give them an insider’s view of what you’re experiencing and how you’re handling it.

The goal is that the person you are mentoring will learn from your experiences, so that when they are faced with something similar, they make the right choices. When they see what you have done, they will do the same.

  • It’s the No. 1 values principle. A company might spend a great deal of time formulating impressive-sounding values statements and core beliefs, but these principles don’t mean anything unless the leaders in the company model them consistently.

\If people see that profit at all cost is the value, they will cut corners. If they see that integrity is the core value, they will pursue profit, but only in a culture of integrity.

Why is adhering to the right values such an important part of leading by example?

“If people can find even trivial examples of deviation, those deviations will become the norm. You really have to make sure that you don’t do something somebody can point to in a negative way.”

If you want to lead by example in a positive way, you must be committed to a life of integrity.

When you’re right on the inside, you lead correctly on the outside. It starts with you and spreads out to everyone in your circle of influence.

If you want to be a successful leader in turbulent times, live with integrity and lead by example. Remember, people do what people see.

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