Definition of Integrity
Since this paper deals with the idea of integrity in leadership, it is useful to start this paper defining integrity. Webster’s dictionary defines integrity as “uncompromising adherence to a code of moral, artistic or other values; utter sincerity, honesty and candor, avoidance of deception, expediency, or shallowness of any kind” Let us exam this definition a bit deeper. The first part of the definition talks of uncompromising adherence. This means that one would always choose the “right” path, regardless of what seems to be more appealing. Take the example of when and when not to lie. A person of integrity would always tell the truth regardless of the situation. The second part of the definition deals with what to avoid. Integrity demands complete openness always. The leader of integrity would never try to knowingly deceive his constituents at any time. The leader would always be open and honest.
Theories of Integrity
There are many different theories of integrity, but this draft will only discuss two. The first, Integrity of Self Interests, will deal with integrity as it pertains to a leader’s best course of action for himself. The second, Integrity of Utility, will deal with integrity as it pertains to the best course for the population.
Integrity of Self Interests
Is it better to lie or tell the truth. Trying to analyze this question using the theory of self-interests would depend upon which choice would give the best results for the leader. This is the underlying theme for the theory of self interests. There are two basic formulas that can be used when trying to determine what is moral, and they are:
1.We should choose the action(s) that we feel, with good reason, will benefit us more than any other choice
2.We should choose the action(s) that are in our best interests, or that we prefer for the best perceived outcome
These two formulas can be implemented when making any decision. If you feel something will benefit you, or that you prefer one choice over another, then that choice is a choice of integrity of self interest. To illustrate this better, let us go back to the earlier example of when to lie. By applying either of these two formulas, lying can be considered moral. If lying were either in our best interests or one perceives it to result in the best outcome, than it is moral to lie. However if your decision was to fulfill neither of these two formulas, then it would not be moral, and one should make another choice.
Integrity of Utility
First, it is important to define the idea of utility. Utility, defined in its simplest form, is doing what will produce the greatest good for the greatest number of the leader’s constituents. Therefore, under this theory of integrity, the leader must consider what is best for his community. This means disregarding his own personal interests. To go back to the example of whether to lie, it would be important to predict the result before making the decision. If lying was a better choice for more people, then it would be moral to lie, or the opposite is also true. It is very hard to determine the greatest good, but there are some concepts to look at when making a decision. They are:
1.A leader should choose the action(s) that would perform more total good than any other act would have produced
2.Consider the gross good versus the net good. Which action(s) will produce the greatest good minus the bad consequences
3.Choose the action that is the “lesser of two evils,” which means it will produce less bad consequences
4.Consider all the consequences, and the action(s) that produces the greatest short and long term good is the preferred action(s)
When making a decision under this theory, it is only necessary to consider one or two of these concepts. No choice will ever satisfy all the concepts, but it is a leader’s job to know how to make the decision, while upholding the integrity of a leader.
Now to consider the two questions posed at the beginning of this draft.
1.Is integrity relevant in leadership?
2.the idea of a Good versus Effective Leader
Relevance of Integrity
Integrity is relevant in leadership. When society looks at whom they want as their leader there is a certain criterion, one must meet. In that criteria are the ideas of trust, honesty, and morality. All three are contained in the concept of integrity. AS far as the theories of integrity go, the people assume the theory of utility will be used. The reasoning for this is that by using the theory of utility, a leader would make the choice that was best for the majority of the population. Martin Luther King, Jr. was considered a great leader, but also a man of high integrity. He was seen as a family man that preached an idea of non-violence. He was well-respected and held in very high regard on a national level. His integrity made Martin Luther King, Jr. the effective leader that he was. He also used the theory of utility. He was trying to stimulate change for a large population. This was another reason he was seen as a good leader. If we look at the case of Richard Nixon, we see the opposite scenario with the opposite result. When the Watergate scandal, Nixon’s integrity was compromised. As the facts become evident, and Nixon’s involvement was revealed, his integrity disappeared in the eyes of the American public. This made Nixon an ineffective leader. His decisions were scrutinized and his motives were doubted. After the loss of his integrity, Nixon became an ineffective leader. Nixon had also lied, and he was no longer trusted by the public. Nixon used the theory of self-interests, as he made the choice that was best for him. The problem was that the constituents did not agree and this cost him in the long term. These two examples show why integrity is relevant in leadership. The constituents usually can choose their leader, and the is another area where integrity is relevant. If a group does not approve of their leader they will not want to be led, thus making the leader ineffective. As one decides whether to be led by a person, we look at the person’s morals. If their values are closely related to our, we are more likely to let them lead us. If we do not agree with their moral standards, we are more apt to look elsewhere for leadership. Thus it can be concluded that the relevance of integrity pertaining to leadership deals mainly in the choice of the leader.
Good versus Effective Leader
Is a good leader an effective? Is an effective leader good? There is a very simple answer to these two questions and that answer is not necessarily. For purposes of this draft a good leader will be defined as a leader with integrity, and an effective leader is a leader that gets results. A good leader can be effective. Martin Luther King, Jr. was considered a good leader, and he was effective. However a good leader can also be very ineffective, and more times than not this is the case. When looking into American history we can use former U.S. President Jimmy Carter as an example. To most, Jimmy Carter is considered a person of high integrity. In the post-Watergate fallout Carter was seen as the opposite of what American politics was becoming. He was seen as ethical, honest, and trustworthy. Although these feelings were widespread Jimmy Carter did not win a second term as president. Why? He was deemed ineffective. At the end of his presidency, Carter faced an American hostage crisis in Iran. He was unable to negotiate a release for the hostages. This incident coupled with other problems encountered in the Carter administration caused a widespread feeling of ineffectiveness. This feeling was the deciding factor for Carter in losing his bid for a second term. The opposite scenario can be seen by looking at the Clinton administration. There is no one who would consider President Clinton a person of integrity. The interesting fact is that Clinton has been one of the most effective Presidents in U.S. history. He has had many great accomplishments, including a balanced budget, gun control, and health care reform. Clinton used the theory of utility, just as Carter had. However Clinton felt that the net good was better by telling truth. He was correct as his popularity was not severely affected. These accomplishments show the effectiveness of the Clinton leadership. However the Lewinski scandal, shows that Clinton is not a leader with integrity. Then it can be concluded that an effective leader does not have to be a good leader.
There are many theories on integrity, but this draft focused on using two, the theories of self-interest and utility. These are the two theories a leader can use when trying to make an ethical decision. The constituents prefer the theory of utility because it ensures the best result for the most people. However the leader may sometimes prefer the theory of self-interests. The only relevance integrity has to leadership, is in choice. If a leader is not felt to have integrity, he is less likely to be chosen as a leader. However once in power, integrity does not really make a difference. Effectiveness does not depend on integrity. As stated earlier, Bill Clinton has been considered one of the most effective Presidents in the history of the United States, but he is not considered moral, especially after the Lewinski scandal came to light. Using the different criteria under the theories of first self-interest, then utility, one could try to answer the question of Clinton’s best course of action. In other words, using the outlined decision making processes, was it the best decision to admit the affair with Monica Lewinski to the public?