Do your frontline leaders have integrity?

Being a successful leader today comes down to values. I believe that being a values based leader will become even more important for your future leaders. One of the most important of those values is integrity. It is a key quality you need to look for when selecting leaders.

Here is a story that demonstrates what can happen when your leaders have integrity.

“A successful businessman was looking for a successor to take over his business and decided to go about it a bit differently rather than automatically choosing one of his existing directors.

He called all the executives in his company together and gave each one of them a seed with instructions to plant it, water it and come back in one year with what they have grown. He then would judge their plants and then decide who would be the next CEO.

One of the men, Jim, watered his seed regularly and checked every day to see if it had started growing, but nothing happened. Some of his colleagues talked about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow but nothing happened to his seed.

After months of daily watering and no success he felt like a failure. All his colleagues by now had beautiful plants, but still his seed was buried under the soil. He didn’t say anything, he just kept tending it. 

After a year had passed, the day came for the CEO to inspect the results. Jim decided to present his empty pot and be honest that his seed never grew. All the other candidates had their pots with beautiful plants.

After surveying all the plants the CEO asked Jim, the only one with an empty pot, to come to the front. Jim was embarrassed, he thought he was going to be fired because of his failure. To everyone’s surprise Jim was appointed the next CEO of the company.

The CEO revealed that he had given them boiled seeds that were dead, making them impossible to grow. Everyone else had substituted their seed with another one after it became evident it wouldn’t grow. Jim was the only person who had the courage and honesty to bring the empty pot with the seed in it to the meeting. He was the only person with integrity and was worthy of being the next CEO.”


How many of your current leaders would follow Jim’s example? Would they be more interested in getting the role at all costs or demonstrating they were principled, regardless of the outcome? Choosing people who are prepared to do anything to succeed may seem like a recipe for success but it is a short lived one. The leaders who are effective in the long term all have integrity.

If you want to create more leaders with integrity then take the quiz I have designed as part of my executive briefing paper on “How to grow productive frontline leaders” available free to download at


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