Thursday, March 26, 2009

Integrity and Authenticity: Be True To Your Words and To Yourself

Great leaders have complete integrity about themselves and all of their actions. Great leaders do not yield from a core set of values, they do not make exceptions or excuses, they do not allow for small indiscretions. And they live these values in every aspect of their lives, both business and personal. They live fully integrated lives on weekdays and weekends, with their families, their communities, and their businesses. They do not make exceptions or yield their values for any circumstance.

One cannot truly lead others if he does not have complete integrity in all of his actions; for the truth is a light that will shine through the cracks and the inconsistencies of dishonesty. At the end of the day, all that a person has is his word. And once that is broken the potential for true leadership is lost; for true leadership is founded on trust. Trust is the foundation for an organization’s mission and purpose. Trust is the basis on which all future change and organizational and individual growth takes place. No one will move, or change, or grow if they are operating from a base of fear and insecurity.

Furthermore, a leader only has one form of meaningful “capital” within this world and that is his word. Integrity demands complete consistency between one’s words and one’s actions. When one’s words and actions are out of alignment then a leader loses all credibility and the ability to inspire and motivate others. Great leaders recognize this and do everything in their power to speak the truth at all times and to follow through on their commitments. They know that if they let their people down then their people will have no reason not to let them down and their organizations will never achieve true greatness.

Leaders expect their people to be accountable for their results, people expect their leaders to be accountable to their words.

Once integrity is mastered, true authenticity can be achieved. Authenticity is not spin, nor is it opportunistic. It is genuine and comes from the soul. People sense this innately and leaders must learn to express their authentic selves to reach the deepest of human connections. Authenticity is the uncensored sharing of yourself with others and implies the deepest knowledge of your self. Few people can reach this depth comfortably if at all. But when this uncensored, spontaneous, honest expression of one’s self is reached, then true inspirational leadership can be achieved.

How is this reached? Always speak from your soul with honesty, caring, understanding, empathy, and openness. If you are in integrity then you have nothing to hide or fear. Just be. Just be in integrity with your soul and express yourself authentically from that place.


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