Thursday, April 29, 2010

Eight Steps Toward Integrity in Leadership

1. Doing what we say we will do: This is a pragmatic definition of integrity and a basic practice. It includes keeping promises and meeting deadlines. Succeeding at this requires careful consideration - and often, tough negotiation - prior to making commitments.

2. Doing the right thing: With the awareness of what's right comes the obligation of right action. That means embodying our convictions - and accepting the consequences.

3. Taking responsibility: Acknowledge our complete, sole responsibility for every one of our actions. No more seeing other people and outside events as the cause of our problems. Blame no one, accept the behavior of others and the circumstances of our lives as givens, and proceed from there. When we see something in the world that we don't like, we recognize our personal responsibility either to change or accept it.

4. Supporting our own weight: Harking back to structural integrity, this means functioning as a whole, being able to support all the elements of our own lives. Examples include being physically fit and financially sound.

5. Holistic thinking: Since integrity is a quality of wholeness, an appreciation of wholeness in the world supports its practice. There's nothing wrong with compartmentalization or reductionist thinking, but don't let that obscure the big picture.

6. Respecting others: Invoke integrity in other people by treating them with respect - even when they do not live up to our expectations. Acknowledge that our own standards are always subject to question, while affirming that the errors of others do not diminish our own integrity. We get the best from others in an atmosphere that supports doing right.

7. Checking the mirror: When we err - as we will, again and again - the best response is to pause for reflection. We can ask ourselves, Is this what I really want? Is this who I am?

8. Defining the rules and values: Explicit agreement about these basics enables groups of people, from couples to business organizations to nations, to benefit from the integrity of members. Absent consensus, personal integrity can lead dissenting individuals to subvert the group. Among people sharing the same intentions, by contrast, disagreements can help to refine and improve ideas for the benefit of all.

By Stratford Sherman
Spring 2003

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

You can have a Navy that believes in all these things outlined in this particular post of this blog, but unfortunately left out of the things a Sailor should do is the fact that it is his job to kill the enemy, if ordered to do so. All these wonderful things that he/she should be in their dealing with contemporaries are secondary to their primary mission.
I met with my Executive Officer on a SSBN Submarine 25 years after we made strategic patrols together. One of the first questions he directed to me was, would I, as the Missile Control Supervisor, have pulled the trigger on the firing key to launch nuclear weapons if the CO and he had authorized the launch. I answered without hesitation that I would have obeyed their orders.

Evidently there is some question in the minds of Commanders about whether their subordinates will carry out orders that will bring destruction on the enemy. The enemy will do their utmost to exterminate you and your ship; you had better not hesitate in doing the same to them.

Very Respectfully,