It is well known that becoming a leader requires multiple characters, such as vision, mission, influence, and strong communication skills. The more characters, the more successful of a leader. Among these good characters, which one the fundamental feature and crucial importance is worth people discussing. According to Dwight D Eisenhower, the late American president, without integrity, there is no real success wherever in any group in the society (D, BrainyQuote.com., n.d.).
What is integrity? It is the quality of being honest and morally upright. (Hornby, 1989, p.777). Integrity itself is a good character that may not able to create a strong leader. However, if a leader lack of integrity it would bring injustice and limitation to the organization.
In this report, I will discuss some scenes regarding the importance of integrity in leadership.
Integrity in leadership represents several characters such as honesty and justice. It is more like a high moral standard that a leader who comply with the organization. Therefore, as Drucker (2004) said, the leader is admired through a good personality, which the character that sets the example to the subordinates.
Firstly, honesty, it is a particularly true factor of integrity. And this character will build trust between the team member and leader. It stands for always telling the truth no matter how powerful the person is. When people watching the movie Invictus, a good role model of honesty is demonstrated by late president Nelson Mandela. After having spent over 27 years in jail when he is released from prison. Mandela then is elected as the first black president of South Africa. What he aims to do is to eliminate the racial division between black and white people in his country. He knows exactly that the black people in his country were cheering for the team who against the Springboks (South Africa country rugby team).
While most white people on the opposite. And he remarks that he did the same while he was a prisoner. He could hide this point or keep silence according to his purpose is to unite the whole country. On one hand, as a black president who needs the support from black people to show he is one of them. On the other hand, Mandela also needs to get recognition from white people to show his leadership. Under this tough situation, Mandela chooses not to lie on this, even this may destroy the relationship with white folks.
By telling the truth he still inspires the nation to cheer on Springboks as a whole team (Eastwood, 2007). His frankness of manner makes him a successful and effective leader. In this case, South African people would trust Mandela who is willing to tell the truth no matter under any situation. Only when people know their leader is honest and they can trust the leader, they will do a better job in the team. It is noted by Sadler (2003), by following their leader as an example, a good leader always shows the team how to behave like the role model. With the trust build by each other, people are easier to motivate and enhance productivity.
In addition, Justice is another factor of integrity when revealing to people in a workgroup. If a leader without justice but has the power to deal with in the group. It will influence the decision of employees willing of working in the organization. It is said in Druckers’ (2010) statement that people should evaluate the character of the top management when considering a job offer. For instance, when I was working at Cisco as a sales manager in 2008, my team has 12 subordinates. According to the company’s policy, all the promotions and pay raises to employees should be evaluated by their performance on annual basis. And then submitted by their direct manager for approval. My manager denied the application I submitted for a reason of no-budget allocated that year. As the matter of fact, there was one person in my team but who is not on the list got promoted directly from my manager. This results in half of the team members left the team within three months, which they thought it was unfair for my manager to appointed someone without notification and evaluation.
Also, they were upset that the management team could break the policy by the power they have. In this case, my manager did not show team integrity. According to Tracy (2014), leaders with integrity always on the side of fairness. How leaders demonstrate justice will have a different impact on the team. There is an episode in the movie Invictus (2007), the first day when Mandela works in the office, he says to the white officers that he will work with them instead of layoff those white people. Which makes the other black people hard to understand why their new president would do this. But Mandela says to the white folks that they can work in the new government, and they will not be treated differently because of the language or skin color. Therefore, most of the white people stay and even the Mandelas security team has white colleagues. The team members respect their leader’s professionalism and justice.
Integrity plays an important role when a company’s development has a conflict with social benefit. It will show society how the leader thinks of ethical responsibility.
Every business needs to develop and earn a profit, the leader is the one who leads members to that end. When the business profit impacts the social benefit, people are looking at the leader to take responsibility for the results. Moreover, this is related to integrity and ethical responsibility. For example, Facebook is one of the famous social media company and has a large number of customers. The founder Zuckerberg once posts to say that Facebook is creating an ideal kingdom. It is pointed out by Harvard professor that the truth is not like that. The platform displays the spreading of lies and hate. Zuckerberg apologized to Congress on the data leaking, hate speech, and spreading of fake news (Cullen, 2018). He admits it is Facebook’s responsibility that not do enough to prevent the platform from being used for bad purposes. Compared with the shrinkage of market value, its reputation loss has far-reaching effects. This also sounds the alarm for other business companies and reveals the importance of the leader to assume social responsibility.
It is the integrity that makes successful, as Huntsman (2008) said no matter in personal life or in business, there is no shortcut, which integrity is the foundation of doing things. Leaders should keep their promises and always telling truth even in a tough time. If they cannot do this, it is difficult to have the team to follow them. Because team members may lose confidence and doubt the leader would cheat on them. Just as the case happened in my team, the consequence was not as good as the company wanted to see. In the future, as a leader, I would keep the transparency to team members, let everyone in the team knows the process and what is going on in the team. Show respect and try to get more benefit for them within the position allowed.
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