Intelligence and Energy: Without Integrity They Will Kill You

It all begins with character!
I've seen leaders wipe out on the issue of integrity. One story, in particular, of a leader I knew quite well - his fundamental lack of integrity, his need to succeed, his need to present to others an image of himself (that was simply far from reality) and how he flamed out and hurt quite a few people - this was one of those painful reminders of what happens when integrity is not present.

Warren Buffett knows a thing or two! He is considered the greatest investor of the 20th century. He is one of the world's wealthiest individuals. He is a philanthropist of the highest order. Therefore, I found this statement by Buffett to be supremely interesting.

We certainly understand the great value of intelligent leaders. Likewise we know how vital it is that leaders have enormous energy. Life, work, and our entire world is more complicated than it has ever been. The challenges are greater. The problems are more complex. The needs are vast. The resources are (at times) scarce. Leaders need to have lots of intelligence and equal amounts of energy for effective leadership in this world.

But that is not enough. For intelligence and energy must be in the service of something else. Intelligence and energy must be flavored by something else. Someone once remarked, "If you educate a criminal, you now have a smarter criminal." Buffett knows the centrality of INTEGRITY

Integrity is a quality of character. Integrity means two things:

First, that you have strong moral principles, with honesty, honor and truthfulness being at the core of this moral cluster of virtues.

Then, that you are undivided, you are whole, there is a seamlessness about your virtue. In other words, you are consistent and constant, not occasional or haphazard in the expression of your virtue.

Without this integrity, the intelligent and energetic leader will most likely be oriented toward the pursuit of self and its desires, needs and agenda. We have seen some of the "smartest guys in the room" wreck havoc on their organization and the world itself, due to their lack of integrity.

Of course, knowing that integrity is valuable is one thing. The gaining and sustaining of integrity is another matter altogether. Integrity, by Stephen Carter, is one of those valuable books that explore what integrity is and how one may gain it. From a more explicitly Christian vantage point, Integrity by Henry Cloud explores the makup of this virtue.

Matthew 22:15-22 is a story of Jesus' integrity (as well as his intelligence!!!). You may want to reflect on how Jesus displayed integrity.

It may be very worthwhile for you to make integrity a significant focal point of your personal reflection and development in the near future. Spend a month giving attention to this virtue, both learning about it, praying through it and seeking to integrate it (always by God's grace and help) into your life.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

LCI - Encouraging you to become a leader of INTEGRITY