Integrity in Leadership

Leader influence and motivate people to grow. Many people have spent their lives studying leadership and how to define it. In today’s culture, integrity is a dying characteristic of leadership. In order for leadership to be healthy, the foundation of it must be trust and integrity. Basically, if the walk does not match the talk, a leader will crumble. A focused and effective leader will have people following their direction.[1] Integrity is important because people desire to follow someone who is honest. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes but those that have personal integrity will thrive for a lifetime. Integrity stands for “the state of being complete, unified.” The words of a leader must reflect the deeds of a leader.  Leadership is a full and complete lifestyle and not just a performance in front of people at certain times. Integrity calls out for a person to have truth at the core of their attitude, actions and choices.

Integrity builds a person from the inside out. Leadership is influencing people to be moved along towards growth. If a leader lacks in character, many followers will be lost. John Maxwell states the seven reasons that integrity is most important in leadership.

Integrity Builds Trust

Leaders are the authors of trust in the hearts and lives of people. The foundation and strength of relationships between a leader and his followers must be honesty. Leaders must lead more upon their relationship than using their position for leverage. If people trust a leader, they will follow due to their innate need for relationship. Spending time getting to know people builds a leader’s position in healthy way versus using the title as the main use of the leader’s authority.

Integrity Has High Influence Value

A leader that lives the same no matter the personnel or location will influence many people. People will eventually take on the personality, habits and attitudes of leadership. Leaders that maintain an attitude of humility and character will see their followers become mature and healthy in their own lives and families. The only way a leader can maintain integrity is to be accountable to other leaders. It must begin with a close, intimate walk with God and with other people who live for integrity.

Integrity Facilitates High Standards

Leadership that focuses upon being the same person all the time will develop strong leaders. Integrity helps leaders maintain decisions so as to not compromise on core issues. An organization or church that displays integrity in leadership will attract and keep people with high standards. Compromising is not an option for a leader with integrity, no matter what price tag is available. Leading with integrity will produce a life that is above expectations and will result in success.

Integrity Results in a Solid Reputation, Not Just an Image

A leader that builds their reputation is one that is patient. In order to build a solid and trusting reputation, a leader must do the small tasks first. Holding true to promises, showing up on time, returning phone calls and much more are small ways to build a solid reputation that will stand the test of time.[2] Leadership is not given but it is earned. The reputation of a leader can be falsely communicated, but a person with integrity will eventually be safe because their lives are defined by truth. People usually see a leader on a pedestal, but integrity is simply the defining core of a person.

Integrity Means Living It Myself Before Leading Others

Leaders must learn to lead themselves effectively before they can influence others. Making wise choices in a leader’s everyday life will result in a pattern of integrity.[3] Leaders must be self-reflective in their own words. Perfection is not attainable but a life of honesty builds a leader’s integrity. If a leader teaches on time management, his life must also reflect a wise use of time. Living out integrity is following through with what has been expected of the followers with excellence.

Integrity Helps a Leader Be Credible, Not Just Clever

Credibility is a key result of a leader growing into a lifestyle of integrity. Gimmicks and looks cannot adequately build credibility in a leader’s life. Leadership is weak if it is focused upon charisma, attraction, personality, and showmanship. All of these characteristics are good but without a healthy view of truth and humility, leaders will crumble under the weight of their decisions. Being smooth and convincing can lead to devastation if a leader does not build truth into the core of their lifestyle.

Integrity is a Hard Won Achievement

Through adequate time, discipline, and accountability, a leader can become famous for a life of integrity. The most important aspect of any leader is how they finish. Leaders will make mistakes but it is how they respond to those mistakes that will reveal character. Honesty, trust, and integrity are integral parts of the making of a Christ-like leader. If a leader continually makes decisions based upon conviction, integrity will form into the framework of the organization or church. Consistency is central to the makings of a lifelong leader that impacts and influences people for Christ.

Integrity is needed in today’s culture in order to revive God’s plan for leadership. No longer can Christian leaders be focused upon moving up in the ranks as the only model of success. The key question should be, “How did they get to the stage of leadership they have accomplished?” Leaders must exemplify ethics and honesty in their daily relationships, tasks, and actions. Integrity will continue to be the most important ingredient of leadership throughout time. Healthy leaders must continually be vigilant to be honest in their daily lives in order to achieve God’s plan for leadership.

Towns, Elmer. Biblical Models of Leadership. Liberty University, 2007

[1] “Once you define leadership as the ability to get followers, you work backward from that point of reference to figure out how to lead.” Developing the Leader within You, 1

[2] “a good leader is not the person who does things right, but the person who finds the right things to do.” Biblical Models of Leadership, 23.

[3] “A person of integrity is one who has established a system of values against which all of life is judged.” Biblical Models of Leadership, 53.