The harsh reality is that small actions can send leaders down the slippery slope that destroys personal and professional integrity! Barbara Killinger, in her book, Integrity:Doing the Right Thing for the Right Reason says, “Integrity is built one small step at a time, yet it can slip away seemingly overnight. The popular expression: “Don’t sweat the small stuff”….. is bad advice.”
Killinger highlights that the small stuff includes choices leaders personally make on a day-to-day basis, including:
- Choosing to use appropriate ways to express frustration or anger when perceiving an injustice
- Choosing to be reliable and predictable as a leader
- Choosing to be loyal to our people and their lives
- Choosing to listen carefully to all points of view, particularly dissenting ideas
- Choosing to be well informed
- Choosing to learn from mistakes, both their own and others
She reminds leaders that the intensity and pressure of performing at a high level and needing to respond to the enormous challenges in higher education can encourage or nudge small but consequential choices that actually destroy integrity.
To safeguard yourself , a deep breath is required and a purposeful choice, even in the small stuff.
My daughter and I enjoy skiing tricky terrain when we visit the upper peninsula in Michigan. We’ve found that black diamond trails can be exhilarating, but they can also be dangerous. As with the small choices leaders make every day, we make purposeful choices to avoid falling down a slippery slope!