Authentic Leadership, Character, and Structural Integrity

Some of the best conversations I have had have come after a presentation when sitting in a lounge debriefing and philosophizing with participants. Such was the case this past week, in a conversation with a project engineer, Steve Kay, who works for the City of Grande Prairie. I’ve always had great respect for engineers and the profession of engineering. They are probably the most trusted profession in the world, and no day goes by without us – knowingly or unknowingly – experiencing the trust we have put in an engineer. Every building you enter, every bridge you cross, every road you drive on has been designed and approved of by an engineer.

In my workshop we talked about the importance of strong character in your work as a leader. Just as engineers must ensure their designs satisfy given design criteria predicated on safety, so, too, must we all have a degree of structural integrity of self-respect and credibility to hold up to the demands that are placed upon us. In the context of structural integrity in our personal lives, I asked Steve what he had to say about strong character and personal integrity. Here’s what he had to say:

“I consider your ‘character’ as how you truly are. Character will impact how much you accomplish in your life. Character determines whether or not you are worth knowing. Character will make, or break, every one of our relationships. Character is the will to do what is right, regardless of personal cost. It’s about doing what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it….I feel obligated to the premise of public safety as the underlying decision making tool… That implies that I can’t take a break from it….I keep on track by looking at a sign I made up and hang in my office to remind me: NO COMPLAINING!”