Chapter 3 - Leadership Principle #2: Lead with Integrity
This next principle is called "Lead with Integrity". To be an effective leader you must have person integrity. If my 20 years as serving as an Air Force Officer taught me one thing, it is this, personal integrity is the key to leadership. Perhaps this deep anchor of personal integrity comes from the Air Force Core Values - Integrity First, Service before Self, Excellence in all we do. Effective leadership always means first having integrity.
My favorite scripture on integrity is the statement about Hyrum Smith in the 125th section of the Doctrine and Covenants.
15 And again, verily I say unto you, blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord. D&C 124:15
Think of how wonderful it would be if the Lord could say that about each of us.
Referencing the definition of integrity you will generally find two definitions.
1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness
2. the state of being whole and undivided.
While honesty is part of integrity, I think we sometimes miss the second definition. To have integrity your heart needs to be whole and undivided. Without hypocrisy. The bottom line is that your insides need to match your outsides. There needs to be no duplicity in your life. There is not one life you live as a leader and another life you lead when you are not in front of those you lead. Without this internal congruence, your true self will eventually be revealed and the fraud you perpetrated will become evident. Once I heard a description of the the difference between honesty and integrity. Honesty is when your words match what you did and integrity is when your actions match what you said. Or, in other words, honesty is backward looking and integrity is forward looking. Integrity is about what is in your heart.
Another scriptural example of a person with integrity is Job. He said:
4 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.
5 God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. Job 27:4-5
Job’s integrity was demonstrated when he was faced with trials. Like us, trials are when we demonstrate our integrity, not when we develop it. Integrity is developed in the quite moments of personal reflection when we decide who we are, who we will follow, and what we intend to be.
I will conclude with this quote from Elder N. Eldon Tanner:
“Let each of us begin with himself to find out how he stands on the principle of integrity. Let us make an honest assessment of our hearts, our lives, our desires and goals, involving a recognition of all our faults. Then we should make a serious effort to set them right, to change directions toward the ideal of integrity and its associate virtues. (N. Eldon Tanner, “Integrity”, April 1977 General Conference)