A critical leadership trait is integrity. The word integrity comes from the Latin ‘Integritas’ which meant soundness. Going back in history to the height of the Roman armies the story goes that the soldiers would put on their leather armor and then would strike with their fist shouting ‘Integritas’ when they did. The sound of good solid leather was filled with integrity. Overtime the ritual became less important and as a result the Roman Army lost their integrity (‘Integritas’) – their soundness and began to lose their battles.
Leaders in today’s world also have to be filled with sound principles, sound action, sound reasoning and morally correct reasoning. Leaders need to be filled with integrity. The difficult today as it was with the Roman Army maintaining integrity is difficult when forces all around the leader attempt to reduce or remove integrity. When personal gain is at stake we too often seen leaders crumble and their integrity melt. As Lord Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Leaders need to remain humble even as their power (assumed or otherwise) rises to ensure that their integrity is not compromised, once lost it is difficult to regain.