coin flipOnce again, headlines in global media outlets this week highlight American “male politicians behaving badly.”

San Diego mayor Bob Filner is facing allegations of decades of sexual harassment. Seven women have publicly accused Filner of degrading behavior. One woman filed suit this week against Filner and the city. Despite calls for his resignation from local, state, and congressional officials, Filner says he will not resign.

New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner resigned his congressional seat in 2011 after a sexting scandal. Weiner admitted this week that he continued sexting as many as 10 women after he resigned. Despite calls for him to drop out of the NYC mayor’s race, so far he has refused to do so.

London’s The Telegraph headlined it’s report, “The American Way: Anthony Weiner shows no shame . . . ”

That bold headline reflects on the US’s poor showing in these circumstances. Our badly-behaving men politicians do not typically accept personal responsibility despite overwhelming evidence that the fault is theirs, alone.

I believe these are personal integrity issues. These issues may have other influences (power, personal gratification, etc.) but, at their core, they are integrity issues.

What do I mean by integrity?

Dictionary.com defines integrity as adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

Integrity is built when individuals promise to demonstrate strong morals, then do what they say they will do – they live strong morals, in every interaction.

Integrity doesn’t mean you act in alignment with your moral compass in “some” interactions but not others. Integrity happens when you’re in alignment in every interaction. With people of different genders, races, ages, religious beliefs, sexual preference, etc. Every person, every time.

Consistent personal integrity won’t get you headlines but it will garner you trust and respect of those you work with. It boosts relationships with bosses, colleagues, team members, and customers. It creates psychological safety within those relationships, which drives others’ willingness to apply discretionary energy towards shared values and goals.

Strong personal integrity is powerful – and worth pursuing.

Don’t let the current headlines paint the entire picture of American integrity. There are positive stories in the ether but you have to seek them out. Two that inspired me recently include:

  • A New York Times Magazine article features Jason Everman‘s story of his transition from rock star wanna-be (he was kicked out of two genre-defining bands: Nirvana and Soundgarden) to highly decorated Special Forces member.
  • PGA golfer Hunter Mahan was in the lead at 13 strokes under par of the Canadian Open on Saturday morning, July 27. While on the practice tee, he received a call from his pregnant wife. Though due to deliver the baby in August, she was headed to the hospital after starting labor. Mahan withdrew from the tournament at that moment to fly to Dallas to be with his wife. His potential winnings meant far less than being present at the birth of he and his wife’s first child.

Be a person of high integrity. Our world, today and in the future, desperately needs those people.

In what ways did your best bosses demonstrate high personal integrity? What do you do, day to day, to ensure you’re living according to your strong moral compass?

Contribute your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

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S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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  1. In what ways did your best bosses demonstrate high personal integrity? What do you do, day to day, to ensure you’re living according to your strong moral compass? I’d love to learn what you think.

  2. Another excellent post, Chris! In my book there is no substitute for integrity and no distinction between personal and professional integrity. Those who have inspired me most in my own career have been those leaders in public office or other senior leadership roles who have exercised the moral courage to stand for what it right, even when there were direct costs associated with the decision. They will always have my trust and respect.

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