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Commentary: Leading with integrity

“Integrity is what we do, what we say, and what we say we do.” –Don Galer


Each day brings news of businesses undergoing never-ending changes. In unpredictable times such as these, it is critical for work relationships to be built upon trust and respect. It is essential that today’s leaders provide stability coupled with ethical behavior, demonstrating concern for those they lead while maintaining focus on results to be achieved, and weaving the threads of integrity throughout every action they take.

When leading with integrity, it is imperative to do what you say you will do. Be conscientious about your commitments. You will increase your integrity because you don’t make commitments “off the cuff” without thinking through the consequences of your commitments. With leadership comes great responsibility.

Keep your word, even if at times it means going through something you would rather not. Not keeping your word can hurt you and others more than any inconvenience caused by keeping your word. And given that we are human, and inevitably you have to back out of a commitment, don’t hide it. Take the time needed to apologize to the people you made the promise to; seek ways to work things out, even if you can’t stick to the original commitment.

Delegating responsibility is yet another integral part of leading with integrity. When you delegate, be willing to pass on the responsibility. If your team member takes different steps than you, be supportive of their decision. This doesn’t mean you can’t guide them in a different direction, but always support – whenever possible – their decision.

Integrity is not just a good word for business mission statements; it is pragmatic and real. Daily we are surrounded by glaring realities of leadership without integrity. In today’s world every business’s journey has twists, turns, and bumps. Navigating and leading with integrity encourages ethical practices, collaboration, and open communication, all of which will make the journey worth the while.


Debbie Henry is executive director of The TMA Group, and associate director of Leadership Franklin.

Posted on: 1/22/2013


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