Your example of integrity is the best teacher for those who are watching – and believe me, your followers are watching. They may hear every word of advice you give, but unless they see you living out your own advice it won’t stick.
“Make sure the tongue in your shoes goes the same direction as the tongue in your mouth.” - Ken Whitten
As a leader, your team members seek your approval. Whether it’s intentional or not, they will imitate your actions in an effort to align with your expectations. In my first book, The Leadership GPS, Brian Alden learned from his mentor that “Imitation is preferred when you are following success.”
Your example of integrity is also the best teacher for yourself. Unless you keep the bar of success high; you will never know what you are capable of achieving.
“Remember that the bigger the goal, the stronger a person you must become to achieve that goal.” - Robin Sharma
Brian Alden’s mentor taught him early in life that “The only real failure in life is the failure to try.”
What does it mean then to lead with integrity, even when you don’t want to, have to, or need to?
What if I don’t want to? It will be difficult. You will face challenges. Isn’t there anyone else who can do this?
There are times in our careers and our lives, when we wish someone else would step up and lead. “Don’t I deserve to just sit this one out?” We say. You’re in charge for a reason my friend – you are good at it. You are gifted in your ability to lead. If you are the leader, then you have to lead.
“Leadership – it’s not about rights, it’s about responsibility.” - The Leadership GPS
What if I don’t have to? No one will know. It’s only once and you will do it next time.
Vince Lombardi said, “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” Brian Alden learned how to lead by studying great leaders like Lombardi. He found that “Leaders with a history of success have developed a habit of working hard to achieve their success.” Don’t make choices based on other’s knowledge of your choices; make them based on your habit of hard work.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
What if I don’t need to? Everyone will understand. No one expects you to be perfect.
It’s true that no one really expects anyone to be perfect, you included. Will everyone understand if I make a mistake? For the most part, yes. But you want your legacy to be more than “He wasn’t perfect.” I would rather my epitaph be something like, “He always gave his best effort.” If I let someone down, it won’t be because I didn’t try to do my best. That is the example I want to set for my team.
“The proof of your character comes through in the lives of those on whom you have an impact.” – The Leadership GPS