Leadership and Integrity
If you want loyal followers than integrity is a mandatory trait. Leaders that model high integrity develop a powerful base of loyal followers. If humans believe their leader’s goals are aligned with theirs, if they agree on their “why”, and their purpose, and that their leader has the skills, intellect, and character to lead the team to its goals… they will follow.
To be sure, loyalty to a competent, leader of high integrity isn’t the only way to lead. Despots lead through fear. There are cases of untrustworthy, incompetent leaders… In fact, I can think of one who reached the highest leadership position in the most powerful country in the world. He never won the popular vote, was not re-elected and his staff turned over more than a years’ worth of pancakes flipped at every IHOP in the world.
Nope, folks, fear gets you a fighting force like the Russian Army, while trust and integrity get you an outgunned, and out-manned Ukrainian Army that was supposed to be defeated in a week.
Signs that an organization trusts its leader:
- Secrets Stay Secrets – If your organization suffers constant leaks, then there are people in your team that don’t trust, respect, or fear you.
- No Backstabbing – People don’t always agree but you’ve created an environment where you can work things out and the team feels safe to air and resolve their grievances in the open.
- Low Employee Turnover – The best high-integrity, competent, leaders attract and retain the best employees. They are able to be selective and they create a cohesive culture.
- High-Energy – You can walk into the office of a culture built on integrity and trust and feel the energy. We’ve all been in offices where heads hang low and people rush out the door when the whistle blows. Those low-energy offices are likely led by weak leaders of low character.
- Focus On Solutions – When things go wrong the best leaders focus on why and not the who. This frees people up to take chances, to stretch, to be innovative without fear of failing.
In Soviet Russia, before the wall fell, there were long lines to buy staples like milk, bread, and eggs. Workers mailed in the minimum effort required to stay out of the Gulag. The energy was low. Fear and suspicion, high. People followed the Soviet System because if they didn’t, there were dangerous consequences. The Soviets ruled by fear. In fact, one of the leading causes of the fall of the Soviet Union was the inefficiency of leading by fear. The next leader of Russia is under threat because fears are turning to jears.
In the Trump White House turnover achieved record highs, backstabbing ws standard operating procedure. Unless the protection and aggrandizement of the can be considered an inspiring goal there is no discernable higher purpose. While Making America Great Again was the slogan there are no initiatives that support the jingoism. Leadership, incompetence, and a lack of integrity combined with a demand for absolute loyalty to a leader who will often push loyal followers under the wheels of the bus prior to repeatedly running over victims and backing up. The result, no one of high competence, high-integrity, with no ulterior selfish motives raised their hand to join the team. Prior to the Trump Administration, working for a President almost assured the rest of your career… in the Trump administration, it became a scarlet letter and a career death sentence.
Leading through fear, whether incompetent like the Trump administration or competent like the Putin administration is unlikely to survive a long period of time. Hitler, Mussolini, Enron’s Ken Lay, and HP’s Carly Fiorina all met their demise before they were ready to retire. It is extremely difficult to lead when you don’t have the trust and true loyalty of your team. Yet movements led by trusted leaders like George Washington, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King survive past the death of the leader.
Intentional leadership is all about understanding your purpose, your moral compass, your declared mission and methods, and staying true to those principles. Intentional leaders rarely say one thing and do another. Because when your words and your actions aren’t aligned, trust and loyalty are eroded. When you say America First, and constantly deal yourself and others before the country, people notice. Your integrity is eroded. Your days as a leader are numbered.
Do you lead with integrity or intimidation? Are you sure? How do you know? An experienced executive coach could help you create a plan to be an intentional leader who attracts loyal followers. Why not try a no-obligation executive, 1-hour, online, executive coaching session? See if coaching and this coach works for you. Schedule a session now by pressing that button down there.