Our attitudes, beliefs and understanding of authority are largely shaped by our family long before any of us transition from learning to earning. How the elders solve problems and make decisions are natural elements of our “training.”
Some families raise trustworthy children who fit in easily. Taught obedience, compliance and loyalty they become the backbone of the workforce.
Other families foster Doers and send them out to build a better society. Called to positions of leadership, they become the movers and shapers of the community.
Lastly, there are families who fail to teach their off-spring very much at all. Any lessons they do pass along are based upon faulty reasoning and erroneous assumptions.
The integrity of an organization, its principles, ethics, values and morality is formed by the actions of leaders who grow up in one of these settings.
Leaders who hire their friends and relatives, overlook minorities, promote incompetents and take kickbacks from vendors are acting without integrity. Yet it would be difficult for them to see any need to change their behavior.
At the higher levels, leadership is about the appropriate use of power. For instance, an effective executive may use her power to move things along, to overcome obstacles and to support the Doers in getting the job done right. In contrast, a leader who lacks integrity may delay a project until he can figure out how to take the credit should it succeed or how to shift the responsibility should it fail.
When contracted agreements are put on hold or canceled and no explanation is offered, it could be a sign that you’re dealing with someone who lacks integrity. When the boss overrides your recommendations or makes an off-the-wall decision without conferring with you, it’s another indication that you may be working for one of those who just don’t get it.
Note: The integrity of the ship’s hull is what keeps it from sinking.