Would you cross a wobbly and rotted bridge? Like most people you would avoid the bridge; it lacks integrity. The word “integrity” stems from the Latin word “integer” which means whole or complete. An unstable bridge is not complete or whole and neither is a leader with a lack of integrity. People don’t trust leaders that appear to be selfish, incompetent and/or unethical. A selfish, unskilled and/or unethical leader leads other onto an insecure bridge that is destined to fail. When the leaders can’t be trusted, the people find alternate routes to get where they need to go. Good people look for good people for help and guidance. To be a service to people, you need character, to communicate honestly and have high personal standards of performance. With these pieces, build the bridge to high morale, discipline, and performance. Without these pieces, build a bridge to low morale, indiscipline and substandard results.
To build a great bridge, you need great tools. Historically, every great leader has at-least the tool of character. The word character comes from the same root word that the word chisel comes from. Great leaders leave their mark on the hearts and minds of their followers. Character is also the chisel to build with. Without character nothing of quality is built and the lives of people are not positively affected. Because they have character, the leader of integrity will communicate honestly with their supervisors, peers and subordinates without fear. They treat the reality of the situation, set high standards of performance and caring, and give the guidance and encouragement needed. They say what they mean, and mean what they say, because they have thought carefully about the outcome and have a quality strategy. Most importantly they care about their people and their future. They see themselves as building a sturdy team with good materials and good design. They have a vision of a better future and they execute in ways to support their vision.
The character and honest communication lead to trustworthiness of the leader. They are trusted because they have the best intentions for their people and want the mission completed in the right way. The leader of integrity knows that there are no shortcuts. A leader must gauge his team’s performance moment-by-moment. The leader needs to know what to say to productively move his team along. Communicating honestly allows the truth to be seen and creates positive change. Like the sturdy bridge that was built with patience and care, the leader looks to build a sturdy team one straight-forward discussion at a time.
Since the leader is trusted, communicates honestly, and sets high standards; his team responds. This response is called discipline. A lack of discipline is always linked to the character of the leader. When people of character trust their leadership and know what to do; they do it. The team responds to the realities shared by the leader and the realities of their environment. This discipline leads to trained “bridge builders” (a.k.a. leaders). When the team develops high-discipline, the team members do the right thing most of the time. When the right thing is done most of the time, a mighty bridge is built. More importantly, a team of bridge-builders is formed. When a team of bridge builders is formed and all energies are focused on a common goal, any problem can be solved and any goal reached. Integrity is the bridge.