Leadership with integrity

I am honored and fortunate to be awarded as Top Performing President in the General Insurance Sector in 2022 by World Business Outlook. At first, I was surprised to learn this since I was not aware that we sent entries to these international award bodies, which do not charge a fee, but would invite you to advertise later after you receive an award. When I asked if I was a shoo-in for this category and if there were other candidates or nominees, I was told that a write-up was sent about me and our company and that a selection was made — I prefer to believe this to be true. In any case, I’ll take this as an added feather on the cap of our company; credit absolutely belongs to our marketing team and our people who make everything happen day-to-day.

Let me be frank and say that I feel that I do not deserve this accolade. To borrow from renowned author Simon Sinek, leaders are meant to “eat last”. If so, what role should leaders play in companies, institutions, foundations, and government? What credit should be given to leaders, Presidents, and CEOs when they are not intrinsically involved in every nook and cranny, nuts and bolts, of the daily grind in each institution?

Countless leadership books have been written on this subject; there is not a single answer on the actual role of leaders. It is dependent on several factors, such as the culture and structure of the company, the purpose of the organization, and the industry it is in. The role of leaders is more obvious in military organizations, on the battlefield, where one mistake may cost the lives of soldiers. In the office setup, mistakes may translate to lost profits, unachieved targets, and closure of business.

In companies, leaders set the tone and direction of their people. To quote from Sinek’s “Leaders Eat Last”: Hypocrites, liars, and self-interested leaders create cultures filled with hypocrites, liars, and self-interested employees. The leaders who tell the truth, in contrast, will create a culture of people who tell the truth. It is not rocket science. We follow the leader.

In my opinion, leadership equates integrity, or moral uprightness, mainly, your honesty and transparency to everyone. With integrity, leaders gain the trust and confidence of their people and build strong relations with their stakeholders and clients. Leaders with integrity get things done since they convey the message clearly, without hiding any other ulterior motive, only the best intentions for the company and its people.

Integrity creates a culture of trust, not based on fear of being scolded and antagonized in case mistakes are made. In large organizations, people are bound to make mistakes, which is why we employ supervisors and managers. Should something incorrect happens, the culture is meant to self-correct, rectify and learn from these instances, without finding the temptation of hiding them from higher-ups. Once this becomes the practice, the organization will be bound for failure.

To relate this to our government — the 1987 Constitution mandates the change of national administration every six years. This fresh mandate inescapably inherits the country run by the previous one, regardless of familial or professional relationship. It is, at times, unfair to compare the incumbent to the predecessors. With this, the incumbent has a blank canvas to establish his own leadership style, which we hope and expect to be characterized by integrity.

Leaders put their people first. If this is the day-to-day mindset, organizations will work on their own, with minimal supervision, and openness to all activities, ideas, and even mistakes. There will be no need for finger-pointing, only recognition of success and small victories achieved by the people. Leaders set the tone of the organization. Leaders should always “eat last”.


For comments, email him at darren.dejesus@gmail.com.

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