I picked up a magazine in the airport, Scientific American Minds. The magazine was filled with optical illusions and is dedicated to the power of the mind. The magazine examines the intricacies of the mind as it sees things and makes connections and shows how easily we can be tricked.
One of the illusions is an old one. Two lines are placed next to each other, but in the center of the lines is a circle of a contrasting color. When you look at the lines they do not appear to be parallel. No matter how hard you look or study the picture, the lines appear to bow out in the middle. But when a straight edge is place along the lines they are indeed parallel.
The Leader’s life must have parallel lines. In fact, his/her life should have congruent lines. The private life and the public life must be the same if integrity is to exist. If the leader puts up a front by portraying one life in public and living another in private, it will all eventually catch up.
The word ’hypocrite’ is said to have originated in the theatre. Actors wore masks to portray different characters. The actor’s were ’hypocrites‘; they wore masks. Now, the word means someone who says one thing and does another. Nothing undermines leadership more quickly than hypocrisy.
If a Leader’s ‘life lines’ go in different directions, even if they are slightly skewed; trust will be broken; integrity lost and confidence is shattered. Leadership is compromised. We’ve all seen leaders who have suffered from less than congruent lifestyles. Politicians, religious leaders, company executives… the list goes on. It’s imperative that leaders understand the importance of living with transparency. The private life is the public life. It is much easier to maintain integrity than to regain it.
Points to Ponder –
How you are doing on the integrity issue? Are you transparent or are there things you would like to keep hidden? How can those hidden things undermine your leadership?
When you hear the word “integrity” who comes to mind? Why?