What does integrity look like?

integrity compass“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

A couple of weeks ago at our Executive Leader Development program, the topic of integrity emerged in several discussions. Whether we were talking about executive communication, advancing diversity and student success, or dealing with adaptive challenges, participants commented how important it was to act with integrity in all situations.

Personal and professional integrity is at the core of effective leadership. It is also the leadership competency we will be discussing this month.

So what does integrity look like? Well, here are some of the behaviors that we’ve identified within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities that demonstrate acting with integrity:

  • Demonstrates honesty
  • Abides by all relevant laws, rules, and regulations
  • Encourages others to do the same
  • Gives credit where credit is due
  • Delivers what is promised
  • Admits and learns from mistakes
  • Corrects mistakes to utmost ability

Specifically, integrity can translate into maintaining a culture that requires all employees to report unethical practices and behavior. Or it could mean making difficult decisions that align with your college or university strategies and values.

College and university leaders often have to make unpopular decisions to make sure that their institution stays viable during times of declining student enrollment and budget cuts. Closing programs and laying off staff and faculty are difficult realities in today’s higher education environment. Staying the course, especially when under fire, from takes great professional courage and can test your integrity.

What does integrity look like in your role?

Anita Rios





One response to “What does integrity look like?

  1. Julie Smendzuik-O'Brien

    Important concept… I find myself wondering about the public officials in Flint, Michigan and what they were (supposed?) to do about the failing infrastructure. Suggests to me the need for constant vigilance about the public good … and acting not only with integrity but, as this post suggests, courage.


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