Skip to content

Executive Podcast #205: Leading Yourself With Integrity: A Leader’s Trust Multiplier

September 15, 2022
Executive Podcast #205: Leading Yourself With Integrity: A Leader’s Trust Multiplier

Most of the time people want to talk about leading OTHERS with integrity, but they don’t really think about how they lead themselves. Integrity starts with how you lead yourself. It can be easy for a leader to try to do the right thing for others yet shortcut their own integrity when leading themselves.

Want to enhance your organization’s leadership culture? Learn more about our 5 Levels of Leadership private workshops HERE – Offered virtually and on-site to meet your organization’s health guidelines.

Download our Learning Guide for this podcast!

Perry Holley:

Welcome to the Maxwell Leadership Executive Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. I’m Perry Holley, a Maxwell Leadership facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:

And I’m Chris Goede, executive vice president with Maxwell Leadership. Welcome, and thank you for joining. If you’d love to learn a little bit more about today’s topic, download the learners guide or maybe even just have a question or a comment for our team, please visit maxwellleadership.com/podcast, and there you can find that form and everything that you need there. We would love to serve you in any way that we can. As we get started, we just as a podcast team want to say thank you again for listening and for sharing these lessons that Perry and I… We’re learning with you on a daily basis. And sharing them with your team, sharing them with your friends, family, we’re grateful for that.

Well, today’s topic… And I love this. This is a word that we’re all going to be very familiar with, but as a leader we need to continue to keep it in front of us, we need to continue to talk about it. And that word is integrity. Today’s title is Leading Yourself With Integrity. Sounds like a very rich topic. Perry, what are you thinking about this? Where are we going?

Perry Holley:

Well, I’m working on a project for a client and this question came up about how do you lead yourself with integrity? And I just realized as I was researching and just digging into it myself, was that we often teach about how to lead others with integrity. “Are you a high integrity leader?” And it generally comes down to how I lead others, but I think integrity really starts with me. It really starts with ourself and how you lead yourself. It can be easy for us to try to do the right thing for others and then shortcut our own integrity on how we do things. I really wanted to dig into what are the components of integrity and how would one lead yourself with integrity? How can you grow it?

Chris Goede:

Yeah. And Perry and I spend a lot of time talking about leading teams and the organizational impact. And this is just kind of taking a step back and it starts with self. The hardest person to lead is yourself. And oftentimes integrity comes into that. And so we want to just spend some time talking about that today as you’re listening to us, or if you’re watching us on YouTube. So as you began talking and thinking about this topic, you gave me a quote that I think is so relevant, that I’ve read before and I think it fits right here, from the great coach John Wooden where he says, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” And that is a strong quote from coach John Wooden.

Man, when I think about this, I also think about, I hear John often say, “Man, for me, the people that I have closest to me, if they love and respect me the most, then I know that I’m leading out of integrity. I know that I’m leading well.” And so let’s talk a little bit about… Is integrity, is it about your character? Is it mostly about… What is it? Let’s unpack it because sometimes people have a different definition for integrity.

Perry Holley:

Right. Character is definitely a big component of integrity, but the way I think that, and this is just from researching it myself to make sure I’ve got it clear, that character is really the moral and ethical code of conduct that we live by. And it’s driven a lot by our personal values. And so I have a moral and ethical code that I live by driven by my values, but integrity is really the decision I make to consistently live by that code. The word integrity evolved from the Latin and my wife will love that I’m throwing out my… Because everybody else was taking Spanish, I took Latin and she’s given me a hard time for 40 years.

Chris Goede:

Is she? I didn’t know that.

Perry Holley:

Yeah. See? And now you’ll give me a hard time.

Chris Goede:

No, no.

Perry Holley:

She always says, “How’s that Latin working out for you?” But anyway, that’s funny. Integrity comes from Latin, meaning whole or complete, defined as completeness, state of being complete or whole. We get the words like integrated in there. So I think about integrating, pretty good way I think to remember integrity, you’re integrating your thoughts, your words, your actions to be consistent and whole. They’re integrated. They’re not you do one thing and say another type of thing. So to me, that’s the way I usually think about it.

Chris Goede:

Yeah, I love that. Makes me think about when I was in college about six years ago. No, I’m just kidding. Playing football, a long time ago.

Perry Holley:

You were in college for six years, wasn’t it?

Chris Goede:

Yeah, that’s exactly right. It was a different plan. I was in a different pace. I remember playing football in college and I’d be at home doing workouts and we would get a packet, not via email back then, but actually in the mail. And it would come to us. And at the bottom of that, there would always be this definition, this quote, where it said “Integrity is doing what you’re supposed to be doing when no one is watching.” In essence, trying to make sure that we’re motivated-

Perry Holley:

It was doing your homework.

To be a Successful Leader, You Need Feedback on Your Leadership.

We’re excited to announce our new and improved Organizational Effectiveness Survey (OES). The OES gathers feedback from employees to give leaders and management the knowledge and action plans needed to develop a more effective and productive work environment. Our new version measures 4 areas of your business: Leadership, People, Strategy, and Performance. 

Chris Goede:

Doing our homework, that we’re out there getting things done. And so I think that that speaks perfectly to this integrity thing that we’re talking about, about leading yourself with integrity. And if you’re not doing that, you sure can’t be integrated and whole when trying to then lead others. So how can you ask others to have integrity or to lead with integrity if you’re not living that out yourself? So let’s talk about how someone can go about developing their integrity.

Perry Holley:

Yeah. You think, “Either have it or I don’t.” No, you need to work on this.

Chris Goede:

Yeah. It’s a learn…

Perry Holley:

It’s something you want to be constantly aware of, your own level of integrity. And that’s why I start every conversation talking about either character or integrity about self-awareness. Such a big lesson for leaders. So many research about the best leaders are really these highly self-aware. We’ve spoken a lot about self-awareness here, have some podcasts on that. It often comes down to developing character and integrity is essential for you to know who you are, what your personal values are. I mention that. What’s my strengths and weaknesses? How clear am I on my strengths and weaknesses? Am I trying to be something I’m not? Just being honest with myself. Where is it I need improvement? What’s my effect on other people? I love this one. Who’s in my inner circle that’s holding me to a standard? We’ve talked a little bit about the inner circle here as well, but anything you can do to increase self-awareness will keep me from kidding myself about how I’m leading myself.

Chris Goede:

Yeah, that’s good.

Perry Holley:

You can put that on a tweet if you want to.

Chris Goede:

I like that. Yeah, absolutely.

Commercial:

Hey podcast listeners, do you have a clear plan for growth? Achieving big results most often does not require big life changes. Small improvements over time compound into big results. Download the Maxwell Leadership App. It’s the new free app where our expert guides and John Maxwell help you pace your leadership journey and set a clear plan for your own personal growth. You can also find all sorts of resources on the Maxwell Leadership App, including this podcast, information on upcoming events and much more. Just search Maxwell Leadership in your app store and download the app today.

Chris Goede:

Well, when I think about this, in addition to everything you just talked about and you begin developing this, what are those areas specifically that you can do? One of the ones that comes to mind right away, we don’t talk about this enough in leadership, is how consistent are you?

Perry Holley:

My favorite word.

Chris Goede:

We joke around, but it’s really not funny that one of the most influential people that we know in an organization, this is a true story, a Fortune 500 company, is one of the executive assistants on that floor because she has two different color coffee cups.

Perry Holley:

Remember that, yeah.

Chris Goede:

Remember that? This is a true story. Because that leader’s not very consistent. And so again, that plays into the integrity of that leader.

Perry Holley:

The red cup says-

Chris Goede:

That’s right.

Perry Holley:

“Stay away.” The green cup says, “Come on.”

Chris Goede:

That’s right. So if you’re listening to us and you’re walking down the C-suite and you see different color coffee cups, you’ll know that you’re the organization we’re talking about. The other one is about authenticity. Harvard Business Review did a study and said, “Man, what is the top attribute about leaders when you look at the top 200 leaders around the world?” And authenticity was number one and it wasn’t even close to number two. How accountable are you to yourself? This is big, even building off of what you just talked about. Not even awareness of self, but then being accountable. And then the final thing is, how integrated are your words with your action? Is it lining up? Is your audio lining up with your video?

Perry Holley:

Yeah, I like the… You threw in accountability. Accountable to myself is enormous. People of high character and integrity are accountable and responsible to themselves as well as others, but especially to themselves. They also consider implications of their words and actions on others. So even thinking how I speaking, am I aware, again, of my effect on other people? They tell themselves the truth. And I think, “Well, you think I’m not telling myself the truth?”

Chris Goede:

Yeah, yeah.

Perry Holley:

No, I think that we can easily… It may sound a little weird, but I can tell myself things that I think are the truth, but they’re not always true. Have I distorted something or have I… Denial.

Chris Goede:

I’ve heard it say that I’m the best salesperson for myself, right? I can give and sell myself anything.

Perry Holley:

Yeah. I think I heard Andy Stanley say recently that “Every bad decision you’ve ever made, you were there.”

Chris Goede:

You were part of it.

Perry Holley:

You were the one that was there to do that. But we can be in denial. We can distort situations. I manage myself based on my intentions. I judge you based on your actions.

Chris Goede:

Yeah, that’s right.

Perry Holley:

I think we have a way of distorting things that we see. And so can I get in the habit of telling myself the truth and being completely honest with myself, even if it may not be that attractive?

Chris Goede:

And why it’s important to become aware and to work on this is because it’s going to be tested.

Perry Holley:

Oh yeah.

Chris Goede:

It has been tested. You’re probably sitting there saying, “Oh man, just this morning, just yesterday.” Absolutely it’s going to happen every single day. And so your character and your integrity are going to be tested as a leader. And I know I’ve heard you teach on this. I know that you’ve included this in the learners guide, again referring you back to maxwellleadership.com/podcast where you can download that, where you’ve mentioned four different areas to where you’re really tested about this when it comes to character and integrity.

Perry Holley:

I would encourage you as you go through them, everybody being honest… Tell yourself the truth. Where are you most susceptible? I’ll probably share an idea that I had on this but go ahead.

Chris Goede:

Yeah, let’s do it. So there’s four areas, and then I’ll let you share, is money, finances there. Liberty or freedom, that’s number two. Number three is recognition. And then the fourth one is pleasure.

Perry Holley:

Yeah, so you think about anytime you’re dealing with money, you have a chance to do things for money, the way money pops up there. Liberty or freedom. “I’m the boss. I have-

Chris Goede:

Free reign.

Perry Holley:

…. free reign. I can do what I want.” Recognition, keeping it versus passing it on or sharing it versus not. Pleasure. Just doing fun things or entertaining things to get me off track to do that. I think one area where we can deny or distort the truth is… Well, since I’ve been studying and preparing this lesson, I don’t know how you are, but when you’re teaching something, all of a sudden it-

Chris Goede:

Shows up everywhere.

Perry Holley:

Yeah, all of a sudden it shows up everywhere in your life. I notice I have the best intentions, but I’m still yet tempted to cut a corner, the easy way to-

Chris Goede:

What are you trying to get off your chest now there, Perry? You’re hesitating. What are you thinking about? What’s the example?

Perry Holley:

It’s simple, silly things, but I reminded of it this morning here in the office. I come in the office here and I use this temporary office. And nobody’s in the office, it’s an empty office for guests and visitors. There’s a pen laying on the desk that is one of John’s four color pens. And it was a nicer version than what I have. And I thought, “I should just take that pen. I like that pen. Just throw it in your bag.” And then I’m teaching this lesson going, “That’s not my pen.” Now I could walk down the hall and ask you or 10 other people, and everybody would say, “Take the pen.”

Chris Goede:

“Take the pen.” Yeah.

Perry Holley:

But why am I just tempted just to take the pen? That may sound like a silly example, but it’s-

Chris Goede:

It’s good.

Perry Holley:

…. exactly what I do.

Chris Goede:

Small, but yeah, it’s good.

Perry Holley:

I’m playing my family, kids and everybody, we play Wordle.

Chris Goede:

Oh, we do the same thing. Oh yeah.

Perry Holley:

We have an ongoing text stream and every day everybody shares their Wordle score. If you haven’t played Wordle, don’t start, it’s addictive. But you only get six chances. And I notice I’m tempted when I get down to only six, just go Google the answer-

Chris Goede:

Yeah, that’s right.

Perry Holley:

…. and put it in as six and say, “Whew, I made it,” versus having to say, “I missed it today.” And so I’m just saying, “No, I’m not doing that.” But each of us, if we’re just honest, important word there, honest, have dozens of opportunities that pop up.

Just one happened yesterday. My wife took something in to be embroidered. The embroider people said, “It can’t be done.” She’d already paid $15 for it. They said, “Can’t be done.” So the owner of the shop put her fabric into a container and put the $15 in cash into the container. When she went to pick it up, the person working there, the only one there, the person working there gave my wife the container and another $15. My wife got home. She found $15 in her hand and $15 in the bag. And we were talking about last night. She goes, “I got to make another trip. I got to get back up there and give them back their $15.”

Chris Goede:

That’s awesome.

Perry Holley:

I think how often would we be tempted, “Ah, it’s only $15. I’ll just let it go.” And thinking, “No, if I’m going to lead myself with integrity…” Who’s going to know she kept the $15? She will.

Chris Goede:

Yeah, that’s right.

Perry Holley:

She will.

Chris Goede:

That’s right.

Perry Holley:

I just love the fact that we just… Looking for ways to lead myself with integrity.

Chris Goede:

The examples that you’re giving are so small but yet so real.

Perry Holley:

That’s kind of the point.

Chris Goede:

And if it happens there, it’s going to happen with the bigger things, right? And it’s funny about the Wordle because our family does the same thing. And they’re already coming in today. I did mine earlier and I got five out of six, but when I see somebody come in two out of six, I’m like “Get off Google.” I love how simple the examples are as a leader, but it becomes a behavioral pattern that we need to be aware of.

It also makes me think about John’s content around leader shift and we talk about, “We got to make the shift from perks to price.” And that we can all be enticed by a pen, as simple as you’re talking about. But man, we really got to understand the price we then have to pay with that in regards to leadership from an integrity standpoint.

Perry Holley:

It’s a high calling.

Chris Goede:

We got to be aware of it. You have to absolutely be aware of it. And so as I wrap up, and I’ll throw this back to you, listen, it starts with you. That’s how simple it is. Like Perry talked about from an awareness standpoint, from a development standpoint, from leading yourself on a daily basis, it starts with you. And you got to look in the mirror and you got to answer those questions. And by the way, as we’ve shared with you in the past, you think that your team doesn’t know or is not aware of where you’re at on integrity? They know. They know. So it starts with you. So even though it’s simple, it’s a word that we all use and we throw around with leadership as we lead teams and organizations, I’m grateful that you brought it back up today so that we could talk about the fact that we have to lead ourself with integrity first.

Perry Holley:

Very good. Well thank you, Chris. And thank you all for joining us. Just a reminder, if you want to get that learner guide for this episode or leave a comment or question for us, or just learn more about our offerings, you can do all that at maxwellleadership.com/podcast. We’re always glad to hear from you and we’re very grateful that you would spend this time for us. That’s all today from the Maxwell Leadership Executive Podcast.

Be the first to comment on "Executive Podcast #205: Leading Yourself With Integrity: A Leader’s Trust Multiplier"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

leadership_podcast_maxwell