A Simple Truth about Leading with Integrity

December 14, 2023 Randy Conley

“Your actions speak so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying.” Simple Truth #37 from Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust

My experience has shown that many leaders are good at making announcements, but they fall short of following through on their bold proclamations. Talking about what you’re going to do is easy, but doing it is what builds trust with others. Henry Ford once said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” He knew what all trustworthy leaders know: your actions speak much louder than your words.

Walking your talk is the essence of integrity. The word integrity is derived from the Latin integritas or integer. It suggests the heart of the matter—whole, complete, not fragmented. When your behavior aligns with your speech, you are complete, whole, and acting with integrity.

Are you a leader of integrity? I’m assuming you would answer yes—but even if you wouldn’t, what you think about yourself is secondary in importance to what your people think about you. Would they say you act with integrity?

To help you answer this question, Ken Blanchard and I wrote Simple Truths of Leadership Playbook: A 52-Week Game Plan for Becoming a Trusted Servant Leader. This playbook is a companion to our best-selling book Simple Truths of Leadership. It is designed as a structured workbook with thought-provoking prompts as well as challenging assessments and activities to support your weekly progress toward becoming a trusted servant leader.

We know most leaders want to be more effective, but they don’t always have a plan for following through on their good intentions. That’s why we wrote Simple Truths of Leadership Playbook—to help you turn your good intentions into powerful results with the people you serve.

To give you a feel for the book’s content, below is an excerpt from Simple Truth #37—“Your actions speak so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying.”

Keep serving and building trust,



Integrity is at the heart of being a trusted servant leader. In fact, we would argue that it’s impossible for someone to be a servant leader if they lack integrity. Walking your talk—when your actions align with your speech—is a key aspect of being a leader with integrity.

As a trusted servant leader, you should display your integrity every day. Give examples of how you would demonstrate the following signs of integrity:

  • You treat people ethically and fairly. _____________________________________________
  • Your behavior reflects your personal values. _______________________________________
  • You admit your mistakes. ______________________________________________________
  • You don’t say one thing and do another. __________________________________________
  • You honor your commitments. __________________________________________________

Try it this week: Finish this sentence: I will act with integrity this week by .... (Write about the end result.)

Several other important characteristics of integrity are worth mentioning, and we’ve included some of them in this assessment:

Do You Lead with Integrity?

Rate yourself on these characteristics of integrity. Where do you score high? Where do you score low? What do you need to improve? How would others rate you?

1=Almost never   2=Infrequently   3=Occasionally   4=Sometimes   5=Almost Always   6=Always

  • Honesty: I am truthful and straightforward in my dealings with others.
  • Consistency: My actions and world align, and I maintain the same principles in all situations.   
  • Ethical behavior: I follow ethical principles and stand up for what is right, even in difficult circumstances.
  • Trustworthiness: I demonstrate competence, integrity, care, concern, and reliability in my interactions with others.
  • Responsibility: I take ownership of my actions and decisions and hold myself accountable for the consequences.
  • Respect for others: I treat others with dignity and respect, regardless of their background or circumstances.

Total Score: ____

If you scored

  • 37-42: You are a role model of integrity. Excellent!
  • 33-36: You frequently demonstrate integrity in your actions. Well done!
  • 29-32: You demonstrate a moderate amount of integrity in your actions.
  • Below 29: Dedicate time and effort to consistently act with integrity.

About the Author

Randy Conley

Randy Conley is the Vice President & Trust Practice Leader for Blanchard®. He is coauthor of Blanchard’s Building Trust training program and works with organizations around the globe, helping them build trust in the workplace. In 2022, Randy and Ken Blanchard coauthored Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust, and most recently, Simple Truths of Leadership Playbook: A 52-Week Game Plan for Becoming a Trusted Servant Leader.

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