I have welded a good bit in my life. As you probably know, welding uses heat to fuse two pieces of metal together. In a good weld, the resulting joint will usually be even stronger than the original metal. But if dirt, rust or other trash gets trapped in the weld joint it will be weak and could break.
Ok. Makes sense. But what does welding have to do with Self-Leadership? A lot actually.
In mission-critical welding work xrays are used to examine the weld joints to ensure they are strong and free of trash. This is called checking the integrity of the weld.
This is a great picture of how our integrity as a leader works. Consider the pieces to be “welded”. On one hand we have our words. On the other we have our actions. To the extent that the two have great alignment and are strongly fused, we have integrity.
As leaders it is imperative that we regularly examine the alignment between our words and actions. Integrity is the platform on which trust is built, honesty is transferred and our leadership foundation is built.
Poor leadership more often than not results from a lack of integrity. I think most people would agree with that. But the scariest part about a lack of integrity is that most people assume–or at least pretend–it’s a problem for only the worst people, those with the most obvious of character flaws.
The truth is that it requires intentionality and constant check-ups to develop and maintain the sort of integrity that will make us extreme leaders. In fact, I find it requires outside perspective to help me get past the surface and find the sort of dust “specks” that could lead to a crack or an eventual break in my integrity… “Alan you say your kids are important, but what are you doing to make sure you spend quality time with each of them?” “I know you say people are important. What are you doing to invest in them?”
Assess yourself. How is the alignment between your words and actions? Does your company say things like “Our people are our greatest resource.” If so, do the business decisions you make reflect that priority?
People who lead themselves well have much greater influence with others, and nothing is more foundational to that self-leadership than putting in the necessary work to develop and maintain a strong fusion between the words we say and the actions we take.