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The Leadership Equation: Truthfulness and Integrity

In the last post, I discussed how good leaders maximize their influence of others through trust, competence, and vision. In this post, let’s take a closer look at trust and discuss two foundational characteristics of a good leader: truthfulness and integrity.

    \[ l_i = \left ( i_1 + t + f + h + \frac{s_1}{s_2} + c_1 + j\right )\left ( w_1 + u + l + \frac{s_3}{a} + e \right )\left ( w_2 + \frac{m_1}{m_2} + c_2  \right ) \]

where l_i = leadership/influence, i_1 = integrity, and t = truthfulness


Truthfulness in a leader refers to someone who is honest and avoids falsehood. This honesty is extended to all both personally and professionally and not just those you lead. Good leaders avoid partial truth as well so not to mislead others even though they are technically accurate.

Often leaders are exposed to confidential information. Truthfulness should never violate the confidence others put in you.

Why is Telling the Truth so Hard?

All reasons for lying can be categorized into selfish gain and fear. Good leaders look beyond their own selfish gain in order to speak truthfully. Good leaders also overcome their fear of what others thinks about them, fear of confrontation, and fear of taking responsibility for their own actions.

The Impact of Falsehood


Integrity is often used synomously with honesty and truthfulness though actually has a different meaning. Truthfulness deals with what is spoken, while integrity deals with the consistency between what is spoken and one’s actions. The word “integrity” comes from the same Latin root as “integer”, a whole number. Integrity is defined as the state of being whole and undivided, internally consistent. When we refer to data integrity in software, we mean that the data is consistent without corruption.

In the same way, a leader with integrity has consistency of words, actions, values, methods, and beliefs. Good leaders know what is right and what is wrong and are able to speak and act accordingly even at personal cost, all the time. As Tony Dungy tweeted:

Twitter / TonyDungy: Integrity is what you do when …

The Impact of Integrity

In the next post, we will continue to look at a few more characteristics that enable the trust of others.

Your thoughts: Can you name some additional impacts of leading others with truthfulness and integrity? I look forward to the dialog.

In Leadership (integrity, Leadership, truthfulness)
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