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Eisenhower on Integrity in Business - No Integrity Means No Leadership

Integrity is doing the right thing even when it’s painful to your team or comes at personal cost. - Guest Blogger Cason Shrode, Jones Legacy Ventures CEO

While I was a cadet at West Point, I read a famous quote by Dwight D Eisenhower that stated “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. “

As a 19-year-old student at the time, I did not realize how profound of a statement that really was. But now, after serving as an Army Officer and currently leading in the business world, having faced my fair share of character defining decision points, I realize just how powerful the meaning of those words truly are.

In today’s society, the value of Integrity has too easily transitioned into one of those buzzwords that everyone uses because it checks the box. It projects well when speaking to a potential customer or employee. It looks great stated on a website highlighting business values. However, truly living a life of Integrity can be difficult. It can be very uncomfortable. It will require you to take accountability and force you to make personal sacrifices.

In the 1990’s, there was a very successful company in America called Enron, who’s stated values were Integrity, Communication, Respect and Excellence. When describing their value of Integrity, they went on to say “We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly, and sincerely. When we say we will do something, we will do it; when we say we cannot or will not do something, then we won’t do it.”

Sounds very admirable right? That is, until it was discovered that Enron’s success was all based on hiding massive trading losses, forging fraudulent profits, and executing deceiving accounting tricks.