Leaders’ integrity is the foundation of their effectiveness

Dennis Sparks

Consistency between word and deed is how people judge someone to be honest. – James Kouzes & Barry Posner

Honesty is at the core of integrity, and integrity is the bedrock of effective leadership.

School community members assess leaders’ integrity, sometimes unconsciously, to determine whether they can be trusted. That trust between the leader and the community, in turn, is the foundation of trust within the school community. Such trust is, in turn, a hallmark of continuously improving schools.

Integrity, simply put, means that leaders are honest and do what they say they’ll do.

Because leaders’ integrity sets the tone for the quality of all the relationships within schools, it’s important that they are thoroughly honest with themselves in assessing their own integrity and in determining specific ways in which it might be strengthened.

Fortunately, leaders’ integrity is within their control. It is not dependent on the authority or actions of others.

When leaders practice the discipline of consistently telling their truths and in keeping their promises, both large and small, they encourage others through their example to do the same. In doing so, they create a “virtuous spiral” of integrity and trust within the school community.

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