Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Integrity of Leadership Starts with the Individual

In attempts to answer why executives continue their bent path of organizational destruction even when there are strong leadership development programs in place points directly to individual character; their moral excellence. “The responsibility for organizational integrity must start with the organization’s framework and end with individual accountability” and although raider’s of the organizational ark should “swap their pin stripes for horizontal stripes….legislation alone will not correct corruption” (Barnett, 2002). There is no measure of character with which to grade potential employees and many times strength is determined (or evident to on-lookers) only when fully emerged in hot water. Many organizations have written ethics codes and comply with the legalese of the governmental policies without real “buy in” or understanding by those inside the organization. “We can’t be forced to choose between integrity and profits; rather we must strengthen the relationship between financial performance and social responsibility” (Barnett, 2002). Organizations are learning that their integrity is an evolutional process cultivated through leadership, culture, and values-driven programs. Bureaucratic compliance renders formal peripheral responses but meaningful change comes from within and it happens in informal ways that are organically grown from seed, carefully tended, fertilized, and nurtured. “Doing what is right always come down to the individual. It begins with the most basic leadership skills, supported by the organizational framework. It ends with no less than creating a new corporate culture, by communicating the fundamental principles that the company stands for through stories of leaders doing the right thing” (Barnett, 2002).

Barnett, R. (2002). Character-centered leadership. Leader Values. Retrieved March 25, 2009 from

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