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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Get Your Copy of The 5 Be’s Today!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Announcements, Books, The Five Be's

I’m excited to announce my latest title now available in pocketbook from Lead The Way Media!

Logo Cover - FrontIn a world full of “no” and “don’t”, The 5 Be’s For Starting Out is a positive vision of who to “Be.” Based on a lifetime of mentoring young adults, The 5 Be’s is a roadmap to living a healthy, fulfilling, and successful life!

  • Be Proud Of Who You Are: Everyone has something to contribute — and so do you!
  • Be Free: Authentic freedom means having the ability to choose what’s good for you!
  • Be Virtuous: The virtues are the “guardrails” for success in life!
  • Be Balanced:  Keep your Mind, Body, and Spirit nourished to  keep your balance!
  • Be Courageous: Courage comes in many forms: physical and moral courage — find yours!

The 5 Be’s For Starting Out was a huge hit at a recent industry conference, and I’m proud to offer it as a pocketbook. It will also be available as an ebook soon! The 5 Be’s  makes a great stocking stuffer for the young adult in your life–or anyone looking to make a fresh start.

Click the button below to get your copy now!

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Thanks NAVFAC Hawaii!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Speaking

PBNAVFAC EmblemThanks to CAPT Michael Williamson, CO of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii for inviting me to speak during their leadership series yesterday!  Great discussion about my one of my favorite topics: leadership! My host for the day was the XO, CAPT Ed Sewester, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share my perspective on leadership with a group of Navy civil service and Air Force engineer officers from the joint base.

 

 

Ronald Reagan on Character & Leadership

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading Leaders, Quotes by Famous Leaders

President Ronald Reagan sums up the idea of the fundamental nature of character and what it takes to make good decisions as a leader.  In a May 1993 speech to the cadets at The Citadel in South Carolina, Reagan said:

The character that takes command in moments of crucial choices has already been determined. It has been determined by a thousand other choices made earlier in seemingly unimportant moments. It has been determined by all the little choices of years past…by all those times when the voice of conscience was at war with the voice of temptation…whispering the lie that it really doesn’t matter. It has been determined by all the day-to-day decisions made when life seemed easy and crises seemed far away…the decisions that, piece by piece, bit by bit, developed habits of discipline or of laziness, habits of self-sacrifice or of self-indulgence, habits of duty and honor and integrity-or dishonor and shame.

In reflecting on this statement from President Reagan, it’s important to recognize that he wasn’t necessarily speaking about heroes or larger than life figures, although those words could certainly fit the heroes in our midst.  He was talking about the common person, and the idea that people rarely “rise to the occasion;” rather most people fall into habits and thought patterns where they’re comfortable.  That’s why seemingly unimportant decisions can become the building blocks of character, for good or bad. We have to remember that as leaders we are always “out front.”