Leaders need integrity: 19 dos and don’ts

IntegrityA leader without integrity is like a horse without reins.  You can’t go anywhere as a leader without it.

Some leaders don’t quite understand why they are not able to move their so-called followers to a common goal.  These same leaders may notice in-fighting and squabbling amongst their followers.  One reason may be that they lack integrity. 

According to Miriam Webster dictionary integrity is  the “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, incorruptibility.”  Some of the synonyms for  integrity include: character, decency, goodness, honesty and virtue. On the other hand, some antonyms are badness, immorality, evildoing and villainy.

Leaders in American culture are thought to be inherently good – if not, they would not be in a position to lead.  We believe that our leaders should be honest, moral, and virtuous – in other words, they should have integrity.  We all know that there are many so-called leaders who are in positions of authority but are seriously lacking in integrity.  Integrity is not so much a skill of leadership but an aspect of character.  You either have it or you don’t. 

Unfortunately, the lack of integrity does not mean that you won’t rise to achieve the rank of leader.  However, if you are lacking in integrity, your motives and actions will always we suspect. A loss of integrity is difficult to restore because it erodes trust which is fundamental for any leader to have credibility.  If you are a leader or a person in authority that wants others to follow you here are 19 do and don’ts to build integrity.


1.      Keep your word

2.      Be honest and forthright

3.      Be of good character

4.      Encourage and affirm others

5.      Be a positive example and role model

6.      Walk your own talk

7.      Be principled in your actions and stand up for what you believe

8.      Behave ethically

9.      Be consistent in your actions


10.   Criticize others for actions you have taken

11.   Manipulate others

12.   Cheat, lie or steal

13.   Condone unethical behavior

14.   Intentionally misrepresent information

15.   Vilify others to make yourself look good

16.   Act immorally or condone the immoral acts of others

17.   Bully others or rule by intimidation and threats

18.   Embarrass or humiliate people who work for and with you

19.   Do something that you would be ashamed to tell to your mother or children

20.   Act for selfish gain

Personalize this list

Look through the list and check off those items that demonstrate how you operate with or without integrity. You may want to start with the phrase, “Have I ever…..” It may be helpful to think of specific examples as you go through this exercise. It goes without saying that you should continue to do those things that exhibit the behavior on the “Do” list.  If you’ve checked off items on the “Don’t” list, take this opportunity to create and action plan of how you can change your behavior.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts on what may be missing from this list.

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