Integrity is required if you want someone to respect anything you have to say, any decision you want to make, or any promise you intend to keep. Without it you cannot be trusted, and without trust your ability to lead is doomed.
The pious would have you believe that integrity is about holding a high moral standard that they will define. Do not be confused. Do not be strong armed into believing that being out of alignment with the establishment’s values means you do not possess integrity. That is simply not true. It is a perversion of what integrity truly means. Besides, your set of values is just as sacred to you as their set is to them.
Integrity does not choose sides, it only measures adherence to what you profess to believe in.
Being in a state of integrity does not require that you hold a singular set of moral standards. It requires something simpler, more profound, and requiring a greater sense of personal responsibility and courage – that you consistently speak and act in accordance with your own values.
Integrity is what causes a liberal who believes in freedom of speech to fight for the right of the conservative to be heard.
Integrity is what causes a conservative who believes in smaller government to fight against the government’s intrusion into the bedroom.
Integrity is what keeps a manager from making false promises and telling people what they want to hear in order to avoid conflict.
It is incumbent upon you to measure all your actions against your own moral code. When you do that, not matter your beliefs, it becomes easier for people to trust you. It becomes possible to find the common ground on which a solid future can be built.
One reason for the current breakdown of American politics is that people are choosing short term brinksmanship (“winning”) over reasoned decision making. Without integrity there is no longer an overlapping common ground upon which to build, there are only the shifting sands of this moment’s sound bite looking to stir support causing more and more people to be wary of the process. New ideas are vanishing.
Whether acting at the federal level, the corner office, your private recreation club, or with your significant other, integrity is essential. Without it your relationships, your organization, or your company are doomed.