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How Do We Coach Integrity?

We can’t set up enough rules to prevent people from making poor choices.

“You can’t coach Integrity!” said the police lieutenant. I’ve now worked with thousands of law enforcement professionals. And I have heard that statement before. Many people believe someone has Integrity or they don’t. But Integrity is a learned behavior. It is a habit that is formed through our choices. Each time we make a choice, it becomes easier to make that same choice again.

As leaders, it is our Duty – our moral obligation – to prepare the people we lead to make wise choices. Too many leaders believe that if they have good rules or policies, then they have done enough to insure the Integrity of their teams. But that has never been the case.

We can’t set up enough rules to prevent people from making poor choices. If that were true, we would not be writing ever expanding policy and procedure manuals. With each new edition, there are new rules. Ask yourself this, “When was the last time you saw the new edition of a policy manual get smaller?” The answer is: Rarely - if ever!

Coach Mike Krzyzewski famously said, “Rules are no substitute for character.”

Here is the problem and the calling for all leaders - we need to coach people to obtain higher levels of Integrity. Too often our coaching is focused on developing someone’s technical skills, and we ignore the development of their ability to make wise decisions.

Each time someone is faced with an Integrity dilemma, has their leader prepared them for making the wise choice? The