Monday, January 10, 2011

Leadership Essentials - Integrity

When most of us hear the word 'Integrity',  we think of adherence to a moral code and ethical principles.  We expect (and for good reason...) that those who lead will be people whose integrity is impeccable.  Simply put, it's not in our best interest at any level to be led by someone who can't be trusted to hold to their stated morals and ethics.  In this context, we need leaders whose 'yes' means yes and whose no means 'no'.

Integrity has a much broader meaning.  In it's purest sense, it's a technical term that speaks of wholeness, soundness and stability.  You don't want to cross a bridge or live in a house that lacks structural integrity.  At some point there will be a catastrophic failure and the impact will be significant.  Effective leadership requires more than idealism and passion.  Leading at a high level is a demanding and unforgiving task.  It's not unlike running a marathon that never ends.  This underscores the importance of integrity in the life of the leader because without it, the leader will inevitably and needlessly fail.  Soundness, wholeness and stability are key components in the life of any leader.

Jesus told a story about two men building two houses.  The first man built his house on sand.  It was completed quickly and looked great until it encountered it's first major storm.  Then it collapsed with a loud crash.  The second man started out by digging out a foundation.  One translation says he dug down deep into the rock.  His house went up slower but when the rain and winds came, the house stood strong.  Jesus was making a point about integrity and the need for a solid foundation.  He said that the man who builds his life on the solid bedrock of His words and teaching is like the wise man who builds his house on a rock. The strength of the foundation gives integrity (strength and wholeness)  to the entire structure and enables it to  withstand the stress and pressures of both life and leadership.

We need leaders (and in the context of this post a leader) whose life is firmly rooted in the words and teaching of Jesus.  It's not a leadership panacea by any means but it's a crucial piece of what's necessary to lead well.  Be a leader with integrity.  Build your life is built on the unchanging and unfailing words of the eternal Jesus.  Those who follow you will be blessed and you will have the strength to stand in the midst of the storm.

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