With the start of the New Year I find myself in a reflective mood. Being an effective leader in government, with all the challenges of these tumultuous times, demands a deeper sense of courage and personal integrity. Leaders will be challenged to authentically stay true to our core beliefs and values. Certainly the dynamics of fear and uncertainty will put to the test the courage to lead and demonstrate integrity as options and choices for decisions become more complex.
It has been said that, “Integrity is one of the many paths you can follow in life. It distinguishes itself from others because it is the only path upon which you will never get lost.” This requires leaders to understand the difference between doing what is politically correct and what is the right thing to do. As budgets get tighter and leaders encounter more competing demands, they have to know where they stand so they don’t compromise integrity and values for expedience. Lance Secretan, in his book, What Great Leaders Do, said, “We have the responsibility to listen and honor the siren call of our souls- too often silenced by our egos.”
In reflecting on the interconnections between integrity and courage, I found Margie Warrell’s book, Find Your Courage: 12 Acts for Becoming Fearless in Work and Life, to be thought-provoking. The chapter on “The Courage to Live with Integrity,” examines what integrity means and what happens when we try to live a life with a disconnected inner and outer self. She notes that when we are living fully in integrity, we can experience wholeness and harmony at every level of our being: body, mind and spirit. This certainly talks to the power of leaders I’ve coached who exemplify integration in all their dimensions of being- they have power, a presence and vision to make a positive mark in the world. It is this authentic wholeness that we sense and trust, which makes us want to follow them even during difficult, uncertain times.
As I set personal goals for myself for 2012, I found Margie’s Personal Integrity Audit Exercise to be useful. So what leadership challenges do you face as a leader going into 2012, and will these create a conflict with your own sense of integrity? What decisions will you make that will let you be at peace with doing the right thing for your organization without giving up your integrity? To read more, go to the link below.