In the Being a Leader (BAL) course, great emphasis is made on integrity, and especially the fact that you are nothing other than your word.

One of the definitions that people struggle with is that your word constitutes whatever is expected of you, even when you have not explicitly stated this as your word.

For example, if you are working in a team, and you are the only one qualified in first aid, helping out whenever an emergency situation arises constitutes your word. The only exemption is when you have explicitly stated that in the event of any situation that requires your expertise, you will not help.

Most people find it easier to work with the following definition of one’s word.  If someone has an expectation of me and has expressed that expectation in the form of a request, I can accept, decline or counteroffer that request.  The challenge most people have is being obligated by an expectation that has not been expressed explicitly.

When these expectations that have not been explicitly included in the definition of one’s word, it occurs for many as wrongful that one should be burdened by the unexpressed expectations (unexpressed requests) that others have.

Here are some considerations to this discussion:

  1. Suppose someone has an expectation (unexpressed request) of another. Even if one is unaware of the expectation, if that expectation is not met, like it or not, the outcome is much the same as having given one’s word and not kept that word.  In the BAL course, integrity is defined around workability and performance.  When unexpressed expectations are not met, WORKABILITY DECLINES, and consequently the OPPORTUNITY FOR PERFORMANCE DECLINES;
  2. For better or for worse, what is expected of one is expected of one. IN LIFE THERE IS NO ESCAPING EXPECTATIONS (UNEXPRESSED REQUESTS). And if there is an expectation (even if you are unaware of that expectation), and you do not either meet that expectation or uncover it and explicitly declare that you will not meet it, THERE WILL BE A BREAKDOWN AND WORKABILITY WILL DECLINE. As with an object or system, WHEN A RELATIONSHIP IS LESS THAN WHOLE AND COMPLETE, WORKABILITY DECLINES, and consequently the OPPORTUNITY FOR PERFORMANCE DECLINES;
  3. The notion of it being wrong or right (or bad or good, or unfair or fair) that you are affected by the unannounced expectations (unexpressed requests) of others is a normative value judgment.  In our new model of integrity, integrity is devoid of such normative value judgments. Whether you like it or not is irrelevant from the standpoint of integrity, workability, and performance;

In the Being a Leader (BAL) course, a life of integrity provides that special personal power to slay our personal dragons and to have things happen that wouldn’t or couldn’t otherwise. Integrity gives us the power to live fearlessly.

What is it like to be whole and complete as a person? When you honor your word to yourself and others, you are at peace with yourself, and therefore act from a place where you are at peace with others and the world, even those who disagree with or might threaten you.

You live without fear for your selfhood, that is who you are as a person. There is no fear of losing the admiration of others. You do not have to be right.  You act with humility.

Integrity said simply is living as a person of your word. Living as a whole and complete person.

Everything or anything that someone else might say is OK for consideration. There is no need to defend or explain yourself, or rationalize yourself. You are able to learn.

This way of being is often mistaken for mere self-confidence, rather than the true courage that comes from being whole and complete – that is, comes from being a person of integrity.

This model of integrity demands that you clean up any mess you made in the cause of life.  All of us will inevitably run into occasions where we simply will not be able to “keep our word” or “keep it on time” or “do it as it was meant to be done” or “do it as others would expect us to do it”.

What is unique and powerful about this model of integrity is that when defining integrity, this model distinguishes keeping one’s word from honoring one’s word. Of course, keeping one’s word is an important aspect of Integrity. However, if you’re not able to keep your word for one reason or another, you must demonstrate that you honor your word.  Here’s how you do it:

STEP ONE: Acknowledge to the appropriate person(s) that the word you gave has not been kept or will not be kept. Once you are clear, acknowledge to the other person(s) that you did give your word to… and that it did not or will not happen.

STEP TWO: Acknowledge that you likely caused a mess for the other person(s) who were or will be impacted by the agreement broken or the promise not kept. What was said? What was agreed to? What did they expect? … What is the impact on the situation? What is the impact to the people involved?

This means find out and discover the impact. Take as long as it takes to discover the impact. When this has been completely articulated, only then move to step three.

First, get the impact and then fully acknowledge that impact.

STEP FOUR: Once you and those involved have become clear on the impact, it is time to negotiate. What can be done or provided that will make up for or resolve the impact? This step generally requires sacrifice. You will likely need to sacrifice time, money or effort to address the impact. Restoring honor to your word happens with the people involved, it is arranged and aligned upon with both you and they participating in the process.

Look to see if it is appropriate to make new promises or agreements and state them.

Living these five steps as-lived, as life is experienced on the court, takes courage. Acknowledging our out-integrity, cleaning up the mess we made, and promising newly, requires living a life where your word matters to you.

People will go to insane levels to be admired.  They will move to suburbs they cannot afford, drive cars they can’t afford or buy clothes they can’t afford, just to be admired.  It’s not just the financial compromises we make, as leaders, what is the true price of admiration.A man or woman who gets into a sexual relationship in the workplace may give up their self-expression.  Because of their action, they won’t be able to critique, or oppose the direction the team or company takes.  This undermines performance, both at a personal, team and company level.Many leaders don’t fully appreciate the high, hidden cost of wanting to be admired.  In their determination to please everyone, they compromise their authenticity. In the BAL course, authenticity is defined as one of the four foundational factors of leadership.Because of the pervasive inauthenticity in our world, leaders often pay a high price to be authentic. Authenticity is not always met with praise or agreement. Being authentic will not always make you popular, and for sure not always admired.The paradox is that without authenticity you can forget about being a leader. Authenticity is being and acting consistent with who you hold yourself out to be for others, and who you hold yourself to be for yourself. When leading, being authentic leaves you grounded, and able to be straight with yourself, and straight with others without using force.We also all want to be seen by our colleagues as being loyal.  The problem is that in many situations, we are being loyal solely to avoid the loss of admiration. In such situations, we are ready to sacrifice our authenticity to maintain the pretense of being loyal.  If we knew the true price of our inauthenticity, would we still pay to remain loyal?