The Influence of a Father: Integrity

My father had his act together.

Over the last few decades, various surveys and case studies have consistently identified honesty or integrity as the most desired characteristic in leaders. It makes sense: if people are going to follow someone, they want assurance that their leader can be trusted. They want to know that he will keep promises and follow through with commitments.

As I continue to spend this week looking back at the life of my father in his various roles of father, businessman, church leader, friend, and community leader, I have been reminded time and again that his actions matched up with his words: if he said it, it was as good as done.

My father was a product of a time and place (the Depression in the South) in which honestly was a common trait. It had to be for people to get along and survive. But I think it went beyond that: he knew and practiced the combination of ethics, morality, and integrity.

  • Ethics refers to a standard of right and wrong
  • Morality is a lived standard of right and wrong
  • Integrity means to be sound, complete, and integrated

A person can have a high or low ethic; they can also be moral or immoral. Those are choices. But if you want to have integrity, you must choose your ethics and live to match them.

My father followed the high and holy ethics of the Scriptures. By living and working by those biblical standards, he made a commitment to a certain morality. His integrity demonstrated that his actions matched his words. There is no substitute for a man of consistent Christ-like character.

Integrity doesn’t demand perfection. Even the most ethical and moral committed person can blow it. Integrity doesn’t guarantee a perfect life, but it does require an integrated life. People with integrity have a moral center that integrates their behavior. When they violate that moral center, they recognize that violation as sin and treat it as an aberration. They confess it, make restitution, seek forgiveness, and reconfirm the standard.

Where do you find yourself on the integrity scale?

Integrity is something that is earned over time. It does not come automatically with the job or the title. It begins early in our lives and careers. People tend to assume initially that someone who has risen to a certain status in life, acquired degrees, or achieved significant goals is deserving of their confidence. But complete trust is granted (or not) only after people have had the chance to get to know more about the person. The integrity foundation is built brick by brick.

The integrity of leadership is what determines whether people will want to give a little more of their time, talent, energy, experience, intelligence, creativity, and support.

High integrity earns intense commitment from others. When people perceive their leaders to have high credibility, they are significantly more likely to:

  • Be proud to tell others they are part of the organization
  • Feel a strong sense of team spirit
  • See their own personal values as consistent with those of the organization
  • Feel attached and committed to the organization
  • Have a sense of ownership for the organization

Wouldn’t you like to be the leader of an organization like that?

Get your act together.

 

reflections following my father’s death two years ago this week, and revisited now as my mother begins a major transition in her lifestyle

Is It Time for an “Orange Revolution” in Your Organization?

If you asked who invented incandescent electric light, and you answered Thomas Edison, you’d be right – and you’d be wrong.Edison lightbulb

On October 22, 1879, the remarkable bulb dreamed up by Edison, drawn by lead experimenter Charles Batchelor, mathematically proved by Francs Upton, built by craftsmen John Kruesi and Ludwig Boehm, and tested by experimenters John Lawson, Martin Force, and Francis Jehl, burned for thirteen and a half hours.

Darkness had been illuminated forever.

The revolution that Thomas Edison wrought was the product of a team, in spite of how history books tell the story. We love the idea of a lone genius, the mastermind, the hero. We’re indoctrinated from an early age with the single-achiever ideal in school. For a fifth-grader, it’s easy to say Edison = light bulbs.

The reality is very different; geniuses build great teams.

Edison – one of the most brilliant minds in the world – accepted that he alone did not possess all the answers; but together, his team usually did.

What would you do to have a high-performing team that generates its own momentum – an engaged group of colleagues in the trenches, working passionately together to pursue a shared vision?

How about starting a revolution?

orange revolution 1For centuries the color Orange has been connected with revolutionary events. Most recent are the election events in the Ukraine, but there have also been Orange uprising in Ireland, China, England, and the Netherlands.

These revolutions signaled a transition – a spirited quest driven by people to improve the world around them.

Why shouldn’t your organization possess that same passion when it comes to creating, strengthening, and enlarging the teams that serve?

You can begin an Orange Revolution in the hearts of your team members and leaders focusing on conquering barriers, expectations, and stagnation.

Welcome to the revolution.

I will be leading The Orange Revolution at WFX in Dallas October 2-4. For an overview of WFX, go here. To learn more about the education and training available, go here.

Stay tuned for more on The Orange Revolution coming soon!

Organizational Physics

A team at rest tends to stay at rest.

Seth Godin, writing in “Linchpin“, states that forward motion isn’t the default state of any group of people, particularly groups with lots of people. Cynics and politics and coordination kick in and everything grinds to a halt.

In an old school, top-down factory model this isn’t really a problem. The owner controls the boss who controls the foreman who controls the worker. It’s a tightly linked chain, and things get done because there is cash to be made.

Most modern organizations are now far more fluid than this. Responsibility isn’t as clear, deliverables aren’t as measurable, and goals aren’t as cut and dried. So things slow down.

Sound familiar? Like maybe your church?

Enter the linchpin. Understanding that your job is to make something happen changes what you do all day. If you can only cajole, not force, if you can only lead, not push, then you make different choices.

In many organizations, but especially the church, you can’t say, “Get more excited and insightful or you’re fired.” No, the men and women who go beyond their job description (if any at all) to do the unexpected and out-of-the-ordinary do it because they were inspired to do so by a leader who isn’t even around when the team is at work.

Are you that kind of leader?