Integrity in Leadership, By Taiwo Odukoya

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. (Proverbs 10:9)

Abraham Lincoln was a president under fire. Though he knew he would make errors of office, he resolved never to compromise his integrity. So strong was this resolve that he once said, “I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power and I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.”

The notion of integrity has been subjected to various definitions all of which converge on one major quality: doing the right thing in every circumstance you find yourself regardless of who is watching or not. The importance of integrity to leaders cannot be overemphasized because it defines the ethical boundaries of their influence. And not only does a leader’s character shape the culture of the organization or nation, it also defines its reputation. It was Dwight Eisenhower that said, “The supreme quality of leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible...

Leaders who continuously pursue integrity do so by first recognizing its importance, and secondly by surrounding themselves with people who can hold them accountable. As a onetime US Senator John Ensign said: “Surround yourselves with people who will be honest with you about how you really are and what you are becoming, and then make them promise to not hold back from telling you the truth.”

The world today is characterized by cut-throat competition and unrelenting pressure, with everyone scrambling to get ahead of everyone else by any means necessary. The seductive notion that a person can subvert moral principles and ethics to get ahead without consequences is being reinforced all through society. This moral deficit was at the base of the financial crisis which the West, and the rest of the world is still struggling to recover from. It is also the basis of the rampaging corruption ravaging the developing world. And it will take integral leaders with the requisite authority to stem the tide.

Today’s leader has no choice but to lead with integrity if he or she is going to achieve anything at all. This is especially so for Nigeria. To break out of our current cycle of mediocrity and disillusionment, integrity must be entrenched and modeled across all levels of leadership. Our political nominations and appointments, or executive assistants and advisers as the case may be with organizations, must pass through the mesh screen of integrity. Warren Buffet underscored the importance of this when he said: “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy.  And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.” We can be the difference in leadership Nigeria desperately needs, and we must start by making integrity trendy again.

Nigeria Has a Great Future .

Mr. Taiwo Odukoya is the Senior Pastor of The Fountain of Life Church. He writes a weekly column, every Sunday, on christian living for Premium Times. Kindly give him feedback via pastortaiwo@tfolc.org  


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