Integrity Must be our Watchword

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading Leaders

We codify integrity in our organizational values. When we do that, we define what integrity looks like for ourselves and our professional community. Almost every profession has a professional code of ethics, and many firms as well.

Honor Codes

As professionals, we codify integrity in our organizational values. When we do that, we define what integrity looks like for ourselves and our professional community. If you’re an engineer, or a lawyer, or a physician, you have a professional code of ethics. “First, do no harm,” the words of the Hippocratic oath, are the words of the very first codified code of ethics. The National Society of Professional Engineers has a system of ethics, as well. Paraphrasing, it’s: “Serve the public good, to maximize safety, work economically.”

Codes of honor are meant to tell us what the institution values, how the institution defines integrity.The Texas Aggie Code Of Honor is “An Aggie will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” West Point and the Air Force Academy’s codes of honor are very similar. The idea of a codified system of ethics is not confined to the military. Other academic institutions also have honor codes. Princeton, Yale, Virginia Tech, and hundreds of others have honor codes or ethics that are written down for the benefit of both “inside” and “outside” the group.

Clean the Mildew Immediately

What do you do as a leader with a breach in integrity? You have to address it immediately. It’s like mildew, the whole place is going to stink if you don’t address it quickly. Pretty soon a breach of integrity will stink up the place, and believe me, if you think nobody notices, they do.

How does it do that? It’s a breach of trust. If I can’t trust my teammate not to eat my lunch out of the refrigerator, then how can I trust him to have my back when it comes to going into an important meeting, or helping me prepare for a project, or going into combat alongside of him?

Integrity has got to be something that we live and demand of each other, and especially as leaders, you have to set the example. You have to be the model of integrity. I know as we get more senior in rank, both in the military and civilian side, we learn this, and the sooner you learn that you’re always “on parade,” and the more senior you are the more visible you are. Believe me, if you think no one sees you when you “cheat” – you’re mistaken. A “double life” where you’re trying to hide something from your colleagues, your boss, your spouse – whoever – always leads to run. Whatever “it” is, it will come out. Truly, each time I’ve seen anybody suffer a fall from grace, it’s been from a from a breach of integrity, either personal or professional. Their “double life” was met with sunlight with disastrous consequences.

Returning to Reagan

Lastly, remember just like President Reagan said, your integrity is built on the small choices you make each day. Be the same person on Monday morning that you were on Sunday morning.


Mickey is a consultant, author, and keynote speaker. He believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 30 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate of the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.
Mickey is the author of eight books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating TeamsMickey’s Rules for Leaders, and The Five Be’s: A Straightforward Guide to Life.

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Friday Link Around – ANZAC Day, Australia, and Allies

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs

20160425_130711This week I had the great priviledge to be in Canberra, Australia on ANZAC Day. If you’re not familiar, ANZAC Day is a national holiday in Australia and New Zealand and observed throughout the British Commonwealth. It originally commemorated the Australia New Zealand Army Corps landings and subsequent battles at Gallipoli, Turkey during the First World War, but has grown over the last hundred years to be a commemoration of the Australian and New Zealand veterans of all wars. For Americans, it’s like a combination of Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day.

Just like in the rest of the British Commonwealth, people wear a red poppy on their lapel to remind them of Flanders Field–a solemn poem about the rows and rows of graves at Flanders after a terrible battle like the poppies covering the field. For ANZAC Day, the Aussies add a sprig of rosemary to remind them of Gallipoli.

I was impressed by the way all Australians fully participated in the commemorations, especially the crowds who attended early morning ceremonies all over Australia and abroad. After the solemn ceremonies, of course, came the celebrations at homes, parks, and pubs.

Finally, whenever I work with the Aussies I’m reminded what a great friend we have in them. They are earnest allies, and have been valuable partners with us in peace and war since the First World War. This week’s link around is dedicated to them!

The Battle of Gallipoli

The battle history of the Australia New Zealand Army Corps

The Australia War Memorial and museum in Canberra is not to be missed

American and Australian Airmen turn the tide in the Papua New Guinea campaign during WW II

Australians who’ve won the Australian Victoria Cross

Prince Harry and the Australians

Australians in Iraq and Afghanistan

Things to see and do in Canberra

A listing of US treaty allies (notice where most of them are–hint: it’s not Europe)

 


Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.