"It takes time to build trust but a moment to lose it. A leader must be able to display integrity in pursuit of vision, because it is more important to be trustworthy than at top of the food chain. " - Odell Palacio, Millenial Kingdom Leader
Consistency is key, trust is instrumental, and integrity is foundational to being a truly visionary leader.
In this extremely "visible" day and age - where any and every aspect of your life can be viewed, shared, and stored for the masses to see at any given moment can be a little unnerving. Yet at the same time, this visibility is - dare I admit - selfishly gratifying (I mean - nearly 12 years of my life is stored in pictures on Facebook!), but also incredibly useful.
However, in our obsession of instantly reviewing and creating how our lives are portrayed, it sometimes comes at the expense of not being "wholly" true. It's like living in a world where we communicate through the venue of one large virtual yearbook (except you like the picture above your name) and your very personal and professional life is dictated by the tag lines people write in it. And no, visibility is not all bad, as it broadens our reach beyond measures we would have never had before. However, in all the achieving and doing, a key principle in leadership that must be re-integrated into successful vision planning and execution is the self-check of integrity. Unfortunately, this valuable quality in a #visionary leader sometimes becomes low on the prioritiy scale (whether intentionally or unintentionally). And unfortunately that self-check can sometimes be too late, and instead lead to a massive societal scandal as the end result.
Simply put, integrity is that internal moral compass that guides you when no one else is watching, when everyone is assuming, and when filters have done their job to mask our flaws. By definition, integrity is "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness; the state of being whole and undivided ("Integrity." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2018.).
And yes, we all have errors in our past, moments of failure, and decisions that were less than desirable. And no, no one... I mean no one, is perfect. And no, it's not airing out all your baggage but being consistent in the good and bad. Integrity is not so much aboout perfection, but instead about what steers and maps out your present responses - and future decisions - in every aspect of your life, regardless of the circumstances. It embodies the quality of your character, and not just the quantity of your ideas, which ultimately drives trust and support of vision.
Without integrity of character, it doesn't matter how great of an orator you may be, or how relatable you might be, because without bottom line trust in character, it will be difficulty to do sustainable business. Yes, you may initially get the deal, but it will be challenging to last for long.
I know what you're saying, this doesn't feel so skill-based and necessary in our tech savvy, innovative world where our identity can be changed instantly (whether desired or not). But we all have to admit, we want authenticity. We want what is said to simply be what is done. And we want true and complete follow through, or at least the boldness to admit when things don't and won't work out. However, we all have to be willing to both "own up" to that demand, as much as feel entitled to it by others.
At the end of the day - your character and your integrity is truly what will determine the longevity of your vision, and ultimately, the impact of your influence. So how will yours play out?
Self check: Do you own up to your mistakes? Do you work to repair wrongs? Do you conduct business or portray your life in a way that is consistent publicly and privately? Now is always a good place to start. And I'll do the same.