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Developing the Leader Within You: Chapter 3

We took a week off for Thanksgiving, which means we did not make a video last week for the book. I know. Totally ridic. We shouldn’t be so lazy! But here we are now, so I think I will just quickly summarize and ask a discussion question or two.

Chapter three introduces the idea of integrity in leadership. Maxwell says, “The more credible you are, the more confidence people place in you, thereby allowing you the privilege of influencing their lives.” He then discusses seven reasons why integrity is so important.

  1. Integrity builds trust
  2. Integrity has high influence value
  3. Integrity facilitates high standards
  4. Integrity results in a solid reputation, not just an image
  5. Integrity means living it myself before leading others
  6. Integrity helps a leader be credible, not just clever
  7. Integrity is a hard-won achievement

In very practical terms, ask yourself these questions:

  • If I talk about the importance of being on time: Am I late? Are my followers late?
  • If I tell others to look at the bright side of things: Do I exhibit a positive attitude?  Do my followers exhibit positive attitudes?
  • I know I need to do more than just get by: Do I show excellence in my work?  Do my followers show excellence in their work?

What about you?  How do you think integrity impacts leadership?  Be specific, particularly in terms of leading at work.  Can you think of other practical ways that integrity impacts the outcome of your attempt at leadership?




8 Responses

  1. Ledwins says:

    While reading this chapter, the three questions you’ve asked in this post are some of the first ones that sprung to my mind as good examples of ways that I show integrity in my work at Breakout. Issues that sound closer to home are people being on their phones during games (am I on my phone during games? If I am, am I making it clear to them that I am only doing it when I need to contact Micah/Brad/Jason/deal with Breakout related stuff?), language and attitude used in the game master room (the typical example of poor attitudes but also foul language, which I have to really watch myself on, sorry mom, and also call people out on it, because it’s so natural to me that I don’t always notice it when others let a curse word slip), and I’m sure there are other examples. I even had a conversation about this recently with some Game Leads in the Lexington store, not in an official capacity but they had noticed themselves getting lazy in habits and that when they did, other people would do the same things (like be on phones, not clean coffee cups, etc.), and they brought it up to me like “Wow, this is really noticeable, we’re gonna pick up the slack.” I was really proud that they’ve grown enough to notice things like that about the impact of their own work ethic, and aren’t just slacking off trying to get the Game Lead pay without the work put into it. I think it also helps that a lot of how I try enforce these habits isn’t by commanding them (unless I have to), but by doing them myself and making sure I do so *very visibly* in front of others. It’s great to clean the lobby top to bottom on a dead Tuesday afternoon, but if you do it during the downtime on a Friday night where everyone can see, they’re much more likely to pick up a Swiffer and go dust their rooms between games. By setting the standard for myself to show integrity at work, I can inspire the other leaders on my team to do the same, and they can set (and help enforce) that standard for the rest of the team.

    • Basher says:

      Laura’s right, and I think she hit on something important, from a leadership perspective. During the conversation with her Game Leads, she was transparent about some of her own shortcomings. People need to know that we’re aware of our own imperfections, and make it “okay” to own them and work on them. Creating an atmosphere of self-awareness and improvement isn’t something that happens when the person in charge simply leads by force. When the leader lacks integrity, she’ll likely bury people for the very things she struggles with the most.

      Good post Laura.

  2. Chris Meriwether says:

    Integrity is the compass a leader uses to navigate the challenges and decisions they face every day. For the mundane everyday decisions it functions more like a subtle filter running in the background but every so often each of us finds ourselves in the middle of a really difficult decision, a “rock and a hard place” scenario. It is during these times that we lean heavily on our integrity, morals, and values to show us the best way forward. When there is no rule book instructing us what to do, our integrity should kick in.
    “Integrity allows us to predetermine what we will be regardless of circumstances, persons involved, or the places of our testing.”

    This also puts a ton of emphasis on our words. Do our words match our actions? When we say something does it carry weight and significance? Or are we saying things we don’t actually mean?
    I’m a verbal processor. So often times I will reach conclusions or discover new ideas when they come out of my mouth. That means I can talk for a long time and tend to ramble on and on and on… Just ask my GMs. Thanks for putting up with me guys. An unintended negative effect of that verbal processing is that sometimes I verbalize thoughts that I probably shouldn’t. I could definitely work on thinking through my words a little more carefully. Maybe say a little less but make sure I 100% stand behind every word I say.

  3. Jillian Kerekes says:

    There are parts of this chapter that I do not agree with wholly, but the integrity discussion is not part of that. Laura made some great points that I definitely agree with (or with which I definitely agree, if we’re focusing on not ending statements on prepositions — INTEGRITY), and I liked that Chris brought up how he processes things. I feel like Breakout has the general things that you would find in most retail spaces — if I am messy, then members of my staff will be messy; if I do not smile when I answer the phone, I certainly cannot guarantee that they will; if I don’t take full accountability with my resets, then my staff may not either. And of course never making fun of a guest’s performance in a room! Like the author mentions, some people will continue to perform with high standards, because that’s who they are, but not everyone. With Breakout, I do think it’s so important thought to constantly ensure we are demonstrating that we value guest over goods — their experience over what we know is not right, if that makes sense. It can be so easy to have something break and already be five minutes into the weeds because your large group took a long time with their waiver and feel like the world is crashing down. But we as managers owe it to our staff to not get stressed and look through the world through the eyes of our guests. Like we ask in our interviews, how can we fix this right now and still provide an outstanding experience? If it changes something, then awesome! We will run with that until we have the time to change it back, and maybe even learn something. Rather than stress about what is happening with the room, we need to focus constantly on what is happening with our service and it can be hard at times when it’s one room for the Game Master, but 3/4/5/6 rooms at the same time for us. That’s when you step off to the side and just say do good, be better to yourself five times and reset your focus.

    I also think it is super important to vent up or over. That means if there is something with which you disagree or have a question about, you go to someone who is above you or equal to you. Your staff gets to discuss their issues with the GLs, ASM, and SM, the GLs can come to the ASM and SM, and the ASM has us. We have our DMs and our peers I don’t say this explicitly to anyone, but I live it and I think it lives in my team. It can be tough to remember sometimes because a few of my staff members have been with me for almost three years now in some capacity and that gets comfortable. But remaining positive with them, and addressing their concerns with confidence and honesty allows them security, while I can reach out to other managers (which I do, hey guys thanks) and our DMs (also hey thanks Adam) with my concerns or questions.

    • Brad says:


      Good stuff all around. I love how you made the connection between venting up as opposed to down and how that affects our ability to create and maintain a positive attitude with the people we are leading.

      We all will have times when we don’t understand the purpose of something or are unclear on the why behind a change; which can then effect our own motivation in implementing the change. When you consider Breakout and all of the problems and processes we try to solve and change on a moments notice you can really see how important it is to have leaders in place whose instinct is to embrace change and who can see change itself is one of the most constant parts of our work and lives.

      When you channel your questions in the right direction, you can gain a better understanding of the why behind the change, which means you are prepared to better help the people you lead understand the importance implementing the change. The clarity on the “why” is what will help sustain a positive attitude on your team and makes them affective in implementing it. The leader who vents down has already muddied the water and poisoned the attitude of the team making implementing change even more difficult than it already is.

  4. Adam says:

    One of the ways I have been seeking to learn & grow in is making sure I am seeking to develop a culture where I can be given criticism & feedback by my team in an appropriate way.

    My assistant managers have been open & honest with where they think I can improve & where the team can approve. I am quick to always encourage them to continue to provide their feedback, especially when it is something I wouldn’t want to hear. By encouraging them to not be “yes men” it allows for me to get a more accurate pulse of where the team is at. It isn’t always easy but it shows the care my assistant managers have for Breakout.

    This cycle is reinforced by the confidence the team in Lexington shows in us. I have never felt like we are trying to prove our worth or that I need to craft an image of how great things are going. By the trust placed in us it allows us to have the confidence to be open to feedback & criticism. Thank you Lexington team for this!

  5. Mike Hilton says:

    Wow! All of those comments are awesome you guys!

    I had an experience recently that prompted me to think hard on these things. It’s funny if you think about it, sometimes there are other angles that can test our integrity. I’m used to taking issues head on and this one was a new perspective for me–it sort of hit me when I wasn’t expecting it.

    Lately, I’ve been trying to develop my delegation skills and have started to lengthen the leash for my Assistant Managers. Overall, it’s been great and they’ve been growing and learning which has helped me out in turn. I was discussing some new hires/training procedures with one of the AMs last week and it became apparent to me that their perception of the Assistant Manager position was that they could do things outside of the standard rules. Such as cell phone usage during their shift. I decided to shift the focus of the discussion to standards and leadership and why they only become More crucial the higher up a ladder you climb. But it really hit home with me that integrity is holding everyone to those standards (including myself), and I realized that sometimes it does seem that as coworkers begin to climb they are tempted to let things slide. I talked about this with the AM and reassured them that they are in fact held to the same standards and more than the GMs & GLs and that I would discipline them just as readily.

    So, I learned that I must safeguard myself from the temptation to allow those close to me to slide.

    • Jillian Kerekes says:

      I love this! For myself too — if I am not acting the same when no one is watching, then can I expect anyone on my staff? Am I more likely to look at my phone or schedule while game running when no one else is here? I would like to think not, but it’s definitely something upon which to reflect.

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