Leadership and Leader have become the everlasting subjects that are discussed extensively by many consultants, writers, authors, academicians, politicians and others. Many agreed that leadership is about behaviour first, skills second.
According to Bruce R. Jewell in his book “An Integrated Approach to Business Studies (2000)”, leadership is the art or process of influencing people so that they perform assigned tasks willingly and in an efficient and effective manner. Andrew Gillespie defines leadership in his book “Business Studies Through Diagrams (2001)” as the process of influencing others towards a shared goal.
While a leader is a person who leads a group of people, especially the head of a country, an organization, etc. This is as defined in Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, New 8th Edition (2010).
John C. Maxwell in his book “New Leadership 101 (1997)” wrote: A leader’s credibility and his right to be followed are based on his life, as much as his lip.
A leader worth following entails the person to exhibit, among others, an element of integrity.
What is Integrity
One reputable private institution of higher learning, Taylor’s University, situated in the State of Selangor, Malaysia uses the word Integrity as one of the three elements as their corporate motto. The other two elements are Wisdom and Excellence. To them, integrity is about right values and morals in life; it is the backbone that upholds strong and positive characters.
The INTI International University also undertakes the word Integrity as part of their corporate motto (besides Quality and Caring), while Monash University Malaysia publicized: “Integrity that ensures employability in the corporate world”. Both of these universities are also located in the State of Selangor, Malaysia.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, it defines integrity as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. When a person is honest, he tells the truth; not lying or cheating. It is as simple as that. Moral can be described as following the right and accepted standards of behaviour; good in character; or able to understand the differences between right and wrong.
A distinctive example of a person of highest integrity was the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). During his time, he was known as al-Amin which means the trustworthy one.
George E. Wolf, P.E. (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote that many times we put a little spin on reports, presentations or programme updates just to make them a little more interesting or acceptable. According to him, spin and integrity are not compatible concepts.
Many political and corporate leaders as well as others had made mentioned to or written something about integrity and related subject. For reference, some of them are listed down below:
- Competency and the skills of civil servants are extremely important and must be complemented with integrity.
- Lack of integrity had brought down many corporate czars and corporations in the last 1997 Asian financial crisis.
- When you live with integrity, you succeed. You are open and honest and your life is uncomplicated and less stressful.
- In a survey for 15-category types of occupation conducted in early 2006, conducted by MORI of United Kingdom and Business Ethics Institute of Malaysia (BIEM); the respondents in the U.K. and Malaysia trusted the following professionals – 1st, doctors; 2nd, teachers; and 3rd, professors. Politicians occupied the last position.
With integrity, a leader has the freedom to make independent decisions or judgement for the benefit of his company.
We do not have to go to Harvard & Yale or Oxford & Cambridge to learn that good leaders are followed mainly because people trust and respect them, rather than the skills they possess. The acid test of leadership is for the leader to turn around and see if anyone is following him.
12 Ramadan 1434H