skip to Main Content

The Supreme Quality for Leadership


The Supreme Quality For Leadership

We’ve all heard the stories. A respected, seemingly successful company was actually in debt and collapsed. A well-known executive’s sordid personal details enter the spotlight, shattering their image, and forcing a professional — and public — resignation. It sometimes feels like news of fallen leaders is more the norm than the exception. When professional disaster strikes, a lack of one thing is at the root of it every time: integrity.

Integrity is an interesting word. A quick internet search yields either an oversimplified definition or a laundry list of the characteristics. To have integrity is to have a strong moral compass with values from honesty to responsibility, all worth their own discussions. To me, the defining trait of integrity is consistency:

  • if your actions are the same across all circumstances, you are behaving consistently; and
  • if your consistent behaviors are morally upright, you are behaving with integrity.

Circumstances are the litmus test of integrity. What does your behavior look like in front of colleagues, stakeholders, and superiors? Does it look the same when you are alone or under pressure?

Like Tim in this month’s comic, anyone can be “on” and maintain their values when the sailing is smooth; and all eyes are on you. What separates leaders from workers is staying the course when conditions get rough and making the same sound decisions publicly and privately.

A well-known leader perfectly summarized the value of integrity: former president Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said, “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.”

Choosing the right leader can feel daunting, but it’s not impossible. We continually do the work of relationship building, using our instincts to sniff out essential characteristics including integrity. This leads to delivering the perfect fit in each unique leadership search. In other words, integrity is just the beginning of identifying the exceptional. It’s part of the Durakis difference.

*section gang: a crew of railroad workers responsible for maintaining a particular section of track.

Back To Top