||Leader integrity is a virtue and is frequently associated with better company reputation, performance in organizations, and trust from followers. Integrity seems to be a desirable quality an organization leader wants to encompass. Nevertheless, research in implementing integrity for better leadership has been facing quandaries: the ambiguity in referral of integrity domains and definitions, and the dilemma that integrity calls for consistency yet in reality leaders have to be adaptive to cope with changes. In addition, it is not unusual that leaders in various contexts behaving inconsistently yet trust from their followers is retained. Will there be other characteristics that facilitate trust in leaders even if the perceived behavioral integrity (PBI) is low?|
This research tries to address these leader integrity issues—ambiguity, dilemma, and maintenance of trust in order to provide a leader with concrete and concise guidance in implementing integrity. From a perspective of Contractarian coupled with ancient Chinese notions, this research investigates the relationship between a leader’s perceived behavioral integrity and trust from his/her followers and proposes that leaders hold the core—morality, and work accordingly to identify norms, tackle and solve problems, craft negotiations, yet maintain their awareness in essence.
Two core values are identified of moderating effect that a leader with lower PBI is able to maintain a certain level of trust. Should a leader be perceived processing authenticity and righteousness, higher level of trust would be maintained even if he/she were perceived low in behavioral integrity.
This research advances the theory of integrity research by clarifying the domains and frees the coercion of consistency issues by proposing a morality-based Contractarian integrity view versus the traditional consistency-based integrity. An empirical attempt to investigate and provide explanation for the phenomena why a leader perceived low in behavioral integrity still obtain trust by their followers is added to the moderated consequences of the framework of integrity research.
For practical business practitioners to implement leader integrity, this research suggests they (1) understand the characteristics and domains of integrity, (2) uphold morality and work in harmony with the tides in accordance to the leaders immediate environs, and (3) be salient in authenticity and righteousness. This research believes leader integrity is not merely a personal virtue but a practice that could be learned and implemented. The reward this understanding is better trust from their followers and subordinates.