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Leadership Integrity: Doing What is Right over What is Convenient and Comfortable


Christopher E. Maynard


It has often been said that the true test of leadership is not found in the comfort of convenience but in the crucible of challenges. The beacon of an effective leader often shines brightest during times of adversity, not in the tranquil waters of comfort or convenience. This observation forms the cornerstone of our discussion today: the essential role of integrity in leadership, which is the determination to do what is right over what is convenient or comfortable. In this discourse, we will delve into the various dimensions of leadership, understand why a commitment to doing what is right rather than what is easy is critical, and explore some practical strategies that leaders can adopt to enhance their integrity quotient.

Just as a diamond reveals its true brilliance under immense pressure, a leader's true nature comes to light when faced with challenging decisions. Indeed, the journey of leadership is often a challenging path that requires a delicate balance between various competing interests and priorities. Central to navigating this intricate labyrinth is the ability to distinguish between what is right and what is merely convenient or comfortable. It is a testament to the leader's integrity - a steadfast adherence to a moral and ethical code. 

This article seeks to examine the intriguing interplay between integrity and leadership and to understand why choosing the right path, even when it isn't the most convenient or comfortable one, is critical to effective leadership. As we progress, we will delve into the real-world implications of leading with integrity and provide practical strategies for cultivating this essential leadership virtue.

Understanding the Concept of Leadership

Leadership is a multifaceted concept that goes beyond the mere act of leading people or coordinating tasks. It is an amalgam of skills, values, and behaviors that, when intertwined, create a dynamic force capable of moving individuals, teams, and organizations towards shared goals and vision. A part of this amalgam is the decision-making prowess that comes with the territory of being a leader. This, in turn, is governed by a variety of factors including, but not limited to, personal values, situational pressures, and organizational culture.

Yet, it is essential to note that the most salient feature of effective leadership is integrity, the quality that makes leaders choose the path of righteousness over expedience. This choice, as is evident, is seldom easy. It requires resilience and determination, not to mention a sense of moral courage that is often hard to muster.

Leadership: Between Convenience, Comfort and Integrity

The pressures of leadership often push leaders towards choosing what is convenient or comfortable. The rationale behind such choices could range from managing stakeholders’ expectations, avoiding potential conflicts, to simply seeking short-term gains or benefits. However, such choices, more often than not, come at the expense of what is truly right. While they might offer immediate relief or benefit, in the long run, they often erode trust, hamper growth, and can even lead to disastrous outcomes.

Integrity, on the other hand, is about making decisions that align with moral and ethical principles, even if those decisions are difficult or uncomfortable. It is about making choices that are based on a steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code, rather than choices that are expedient or convenient. Leaders with high integrity value honesty, transparency, and fairness, and these values guide their decision-making processes. They are ready to face the discomfort associated with hard decisions because they understand the long-term implications of their choices.

The Advantages of Choosing What is Right over What is Comfortable

Choosing the path of righteousness and integrity has several advantages for leaders. First, it builds trust within the team or organization. Trust, in turn, fosters an environment of cooperation and collaboration, which are key to achieving organizational goals.

Second, leaders who consistently act with integrity serve as powerful role models. They set a standard for ethical behavior, which can have a profound impact on the overall culture of the organization. This culture of integrity can make a significant difference in how the organization operates and how it is viewed by external stakeholders.

Third, choosing what is right over what is comfortable can lead to better decision-making. When leaders act with integrity, they're more likely to make decisions that are in the best interests of the organization as a whole, rather than decisions that serve their personal interests or provide temporary relief from challenging situations.

Strategies for Enhancing Leadership Integrity

Given the importance of integrity in leadership, here are some strategies for leaders who wish to bolster this virtue:

  1. Develop Moral Courage: This involves the willingness to stand up for what is right, even in the face of opposition or criticism. Leaders can cultivate moral courage by consistently practicing and reinforcing their ethical values.

  2. Lead by Example: Leaders should demonstrate integrity in their actions, decisions, and communication. When leaders walk their talk, they inspire others to do the same.

  3. Embrace Transparency: Open communication about decisions, policies, and processes helps to build trust and fosters a culture of integrity within the organization.

  4. Promote Ethical Practices: Encourage a culture of ethics and integrity within the organization. This can be achieved by implementing robust ethics programs and holding regular training sessions on ethical behavior.

  5. Foster a Safe Environment: Cultivate an environment where team members feel safe to voice their concerns or report unethical behavior. This includes a robust system for reporting and addressing such issues.


The path of leadership is often fraught with complexities and challenges. Among these challenges is the struggle between doing what is right and what is convenient or comfortable. However, the true measure of a leader lies not in their ability to avoid discomfort but in their determination to uphold integrity even when it's not the easiest path to tread. This commitment to doing what is right builds trust, sets a powerful example for others, and ultimately leads to better decision-making. 

Therefore, it's critical for leaders to recognize the importance of choosing integrity over convenience and comfort, and to take steps to cultivate this virtue within themselves and their organizations. After all, as the renowned American author and leadership expert John C. Maxwell rightly said, "Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another." And nothing influences more profoundly than the integrity of one's actions.

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