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

You don’t need to read much to realize that leaders focus intensely on their reputations. 

When companies conduct surveys and or assessments, most employees rate integrity as the essential leadership trait. A more significant percentage of employees considered it the top quality of an executive and people managers. 

Having integrity generates respect and trust. People want to work for ethical people; we all know that if our leader acts with integrity, they will treat them right and do what’s best for the business and the people.

Leaders with integrity will strengthen the business and increase employee morale. In addition, companies with strong, ethical leadership teams enhance their ability to attract investors, customers, and talented people. However, integrity begins at the top and works its way through the organization to create a culture that values integrity.

Leaders need to realize their words, actions, decisions, and methodologies help create their actual values and culture. How we approach actions and what we do and say is particularly crucial for leaders. We must be people of integrity. Everyone is watching how we respond to business and personal situations. We either draw people to our influence, or we repel them with our lack of integrity.

To build your leadership, you must incorporate the TRUTH into YOUR integrity. 

“Integrity is telling the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people”

Spencer Johnson

To accomplish this, you must make these four commitments;

  1. Speak the truth plainlyBe honest, and treat people well. Don’t exaggerate successes, and be quick to praise others’ contributions. As a leader,  YOUR word should stand on its own. 
  2. Share the truth completelyLying is when you intentionally mislead others by either falsifying or concealing information. Half the truth is a whole lie. There are situations we need to have hard yet honest conversations with our employees. If we back from these conversations, we can’t say we are a leader of integrity. I am consistently tempted to hold back the truth because I don’t want to deal with the consequences. But after 30+ years of leadership, I’ve learned this always backfires. In the end, people respect honesty. Truth often hurts, but dishonesty leaves lasting scars.
  3. Use the truth tactfullyTo build a culture of integrity, behaviors change faster when people know the truth is wrapped in care. Truth without love is always seen as an attack. Without showing care, all of our actions mean nothing. If you don’t care for the people you’re sharing the truth with, stop sharing it. Your truth-telling will never produce lasting results. If you’re trying to get something off your chest, you’re not speaking in respect. Just because you’re willing to share the truth doesn’t mean the other person is ready to hear it. The solution to any conflict is not deception; it’s tact. You can use your words to heal or hurt, make a point or make an enemy. Leaders also need to hold themselves accountable. They must treat everyone fairly, regardless of a person’s standing in the organization.
  4. Live the truth consistentlyIntegrity isn’t being honest 80 percent of the time. Partial honesty is dishonesty. Integrity is a requirement for leadership because all leadership is based on trust. If people don’t trust you, you can’t lead them. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with your staff. If you make a mistake, say so and do all you can to fix it. Your employees don’t expect you to be perfect, and you will alienate them if you cannot admit fault when things go wrong.


“The time is always right to do what is right”

Martin Luther King

As I constantly think about increasing my leadership and influence, I try to maintain strong integrity. Am I always successful? NO, but my heart desires to lead people with integrity, influence, and skill.

Take the time to consider these four commitments and take action where necessary. Together, we can change the world!

Denis is an Executive Director for the John Maxwell Group and is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behaviorial Consultant. Denis is a senior safety professional and a strong, passionate influential person. He is committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.