In the cupboard at my mom and dad’s house, there is still a list of friends from high school. This worn roster of names and phone numbers was my ‘little black book’ for pickup basketball games throughout the mid-nineties. With adult structured games far less common, we took it upon ourselves to organize our own games. And, I was the one that did all the organizing.
When I would call guys to play, I always knew certain guys would play no matter what they had going on. I loved those guys. Then we had a group of guys that would play if they didn’t have any conflicts. I would always call to check with them.
Then, there were the two groups of guys that found themselves crossed off my list. First, the guys that always had an excuse for why they couldn’t play. I didn’t mind these guys too much. Afterall, they didn’t waste much of my time. I figured out pretty quickly to stop calling them.
The group that I was the least accepting of were the guys that would say they could play, then not show up. This was a one strike deal for me. After the first time, they were crossed off my list and never called again.
Integrity, specifically behavioral integrity, is one of the most important characteristics a person can possess. It’s equally as important for a leader.
Why Should We Care?
Our willingness to choose - and to be clear, this is a willingness to choose not a talent or skill - to do what we say we’re going to do is first, and foremost a message to ourselves. We are either reinforcing our consistent discipline to align our behaviors or we’re reinforcing our inconsistent discipline to align our behaviors. Each repetition builds confidence or doubt in ourselves.
We’re the only ones we can’t fool. No amount of justification or viable excuses will suffice our personal truth. We always know.
The second most important aspect associated with behavioral integrity is the impact on those we lead. As a leader, there is no place to hide. You’re always ‘on’. As much as we would like to, we can’t step out of our leadership role at our convenience. Your 1st grade teacher is always your teacher - you probably still even refer to them as Mr or Mrs. Your behavior can’t opt out either. Integrity doesn’t clock in and clock out.
Behavioral integrity is the foundation for trust in any relationship. Those watching us are constantly evaluating whether or not they can trust us. It’s not a deposit we can make and forget about. It’s a daily donation we must make in order to garner the respect needed for others to allow us to lead them.
Likewise, we are constantly checking the behavioral integrity of those within our team. The first we earmark as needing to go almost always lack the willingness to choose behavioral integrity. Trust is impossible without it and reaching your potential as a team is equally unlikely.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Behavioral integrity is not complicated. It’s actually simple.
Here are a few thoughts on how you can simplify it for yourself.
Much of our impact is dependent on our willingness to uphold our behavioral integrity. With it, we are virtually unstoppable and can lead anyone. Without it, we are doomed and can’t lead anyone - including ourselves.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.