Integrity has become a concept and topic with more reputation in research on government and governance, as well as in actual policy making at all stages.

Integrity in leaders refers to being honest, trustworthy, and reliable. Leaders with integrity act in harmony with their words and own up to their mistakes, as opposed to hiding them, blaming their team, or making excuses. It is perhaps the most important code of leadership and dependent on integrity because it demands candor and honesty. Many companies and organizations fail because they don't follow the reality principle. Integrity means telling the truth even if the truth is ugly.

Governance is nowadays a popular concept that relates to power; authority; politics; policy; administration; government; steering; management; and organization. Governance is all about addressing collective problems and interests.

Ethical Leadership

Ethical leadership has been defined in many ways and although much has been said about the importance of ethical leadership, the topic has received somewhat patchy empirical attention. One recent definition tells us that ethical leadership should be about “the creation and fulfilment of worthwhile opportunities by honorable means.” In any setting where the achievement of values-based governance is sought, the issue of leaders’ values becomes integral to establishing an ethical organization. There is little doubt that ethical leaders are those who adhere to strong personal values emanating from notions of correctness, fairness, equity and reasonableness.

Practical Ways Leaders Can Develop/Display Integrity

  • It should go without saying but bears repeating: Be honest, and treat people well. Don’t exaggerate successes, and be quick to praise others’ contributions.
  • Leaders also need to hold themselves accountable not just to their superiors but also to their peers and staff. Similarly, they must treat everyone fairly, regardless of a person’s standing in the organization.
  • Consider conducting a self-audit. Start by thinking about others you admire. What makes them admirable? Which of their attributes do you want to emulate, and how successful are your efforts to do so? If you find you’re lacking in an area, try to determine why.
  • Find out how others view you. It’s one thing to ponder how we think we’re perceived, but quite another to know for sure. Talk to your manager, employees and network contacts outside of the company about what you do well and what you can do better.
  • Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with your staff. If you make a mistake, say so and do all you can to fix it. Your employees don’t expect you to be perfect, and you can alienate them if you are unable to admit fault when things go wrong.


Majority of leaders and companies profess to “value integrity”. But they may not all understand or agree on the definition of this popular term. When leaders determine what integrity looks like in their organization, they need to emphasize and highlight it at every turn. Leaders need to model and then actively, visibly, reinforce integrity for everyone in the organization – and this is true for leaders and leaders at every level of the organization. Regardless of job description or title, every leader must be responsible for modeling integrity.

However, since leaders are the most visible members of the organization, and since they have the potential to cause the most reputational damage. It’s crucial for them to support compliance, accountability and ethical behavior.


Principles of Good Governance

While Effectiveness and efficiency are considered core features of good governance, Voice and accountability imply that all managers in the public sector are “held responsible for carrying out a defined set of duties or tasks, and for conforming with rules and standards applicable to their posts.” In this context, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the free media are important in ensuring that people can participate in a meaningful way in the pursuit of truth, honesty and integrity.

Good governance plays an important role in providing an enabling environment if the principles underpinning it are in place. Most scholars consider integrity to be a requirement for ethical and effective leadership. It is a firm belief in good leadership that leaders should walk their ethical talk by living, and not merely verbally promoting, the organization’s value system and design. Leaders should personally demonstrate commitment and loyalty to the organization by behaving and leading with integrity and by showing what it means to behave consistently and congruently with

what they profess. Trustworthiness and integrity have been identified as essential aspects of effective transformational leaders. Leaders with integrity always encourage open and honest communication, particularly in discussions that concern decision-making. After existing for centuries, governance has recently emerged as a salient concept.

The principles of good governance serve as a catalyst to make us aware of the values that are considered important in any leadership setting. In this context, the desire to lead with fairness, justice and integrity require a strong commitment to knowing oneself and to living in accordance with a clearly established set of core values and principles. Respecting one’s self translates transcendently to showing respect to and for others.

A leader must be flexible and open in numerous contexts so that the needs of the organization can be effectively met, but integrity is not negotiable and must therefore be adopted as a way of life. Becoming a leader with a high level of integrity is a journey filled with challenges, errors and lessons, with rewards for the greater public good if this goal achieved, a legacy of good leadership that is grounded in integrity will have a lasting effect.

By Educationist,

Eunice Nding’o