Integrity is one of the most essential qualities for an effective leader. Teams with higher trust consistently outperform teams with lower trust. Harvey Mackay once said, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters and if you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” One of the fastest ways to erode trust on the teams you lead is to operate without integrity. You may be asking what is integrity exactly and how can a leader work on this quality?

Firstly, we must recognize that there are different categories of leadership integrity:

Behavioral integrity is the relationship between a leader’s words and deeds.

Moral integrity is the leader’s consistent adherence to a set of moral standards that the others find acceptable

Contractual integrity is how the leader keeps or breaks the promises made.

The goal is to become strong in each of these integrity areas. A leader who is seriously lacking in any of the above will do tremendous damage to the trust of the team. Here are four ways we can work on improving our integrity as leaders:

1. Consistency

Consistency is the key to integrity. The more consistent a leader’s words are to their deeds, the more consistent a leader’s actions are to their moral standards, and the more consistent the leader keeps the promises made, the more the team will be willing to trust the leader. Consistency is pulling it all together nearly every time.


2. Authenticity

Authenticity is all about being genuine and honest. Authentic leaders are honest about their strengths, their weakness, their values, and their actions. Being authentic means being genuine and living consistently with the stated values of the team. Authentic leaders are who they claim to be. It starts by first being honest with yourself.


3. Accountability

Accountability is about creating trust. An accountable leader takes responsibility for their actions. A great leader is accountable to the values of the team, accountable for their words and promises, accountable for their actions and accountable for how they treat others. Great leaders take full ownership of their decisions and actions. They are transparent to their team, even owning their mistakes.


Lead by example

A leader with integrity, leads the team by showing the way.  Leaders ought to model the right behavior. For the team, a leader’s actions are more persuasive than their words. Leaders who say one thing but behave differently are seen as deceitful and insincere. Actions speak louder than words. What are your actions saying?

An effective leader will evaluate their words, promises, actions and values on a daily basis to make sure that their beliefs and behavior are instilling confidence and trust in their team members. Integrity is not formed in one day but over a lifetime of consistent choices.


Brent Daub, Senior Partner at Gilson Daub, Inc.