My country of birth, Brazil, is abuzz this week with the news of a former president going to jail on corruption charges. This is part of the largest corruption scandal in the history of the country, implicating some of the largest building and services companies in the country. The crime exposes a dark side of my culture that permeates the whole of society, from the highest level of politics to common folk. The reality is, what my home country needs today are leaders of integrity.
Integrity Does Not Come Naturally
This may sound like an oxymoron, but as a “priceless” leadership character, integrity comes at a high price. Leadership and sales guru Zig Ziglar said “The most influential persuasion tool in your arsenal is your integrity.” Of course, the price is not in money or any material thing. We can’t “buy” integrity as such. The price we pay is one of self-discipline. The word discipline is defined as “training that is expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior.”
In order to be leaders of integrity, we will need the six following disciplines:
- Self-Leadership. Self-preservation is natural, integrity is not. When both are in conflict, we need the discipline to lead ourselves to choose integrity.
- Commitment (to integrity itself). This is a matter of waking up every morning and saying to ourselves, “I will be a person of integrity today.”
- Vigilance. We live in a world that bombards us with opportunities to lie, cheat, and compromise our integrity at every turn. Paul advised his mentee, Timothy, with these words, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Did you notice how he says “it will save your hearers?” He knew how deeply integrity (or the lack of it) influences our leadership.
- Accountability. Self-leadership, and even self-control, are not enough because ultimately, integrity is maintained through outside control. The only secure way is to be accountable to trusted others.
- Vulnerability. This is the “sister” of accountability. I will always have the power to set the limits of accountability. That is why it takes a willingness to open myself up to be accountable.
- Focus. Paul inspires us again with his words, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13b-14) Did you notice the singular “goal?”
The world recently honored evangelist Billy Graham on the occasion of his passing as a man of character and integrity. He finished well in life and left a legacy which will remain for generations to come. However, it is important to remember that this legacy today is based on decisions Mr. Graham made several decades ago and the price he paid to be a man of integrity for nearly a century.
What price are you paying today to ensure you keep your integrity, extend your influence, and finish well?