Toward a broader - but still rigorous - definition of leader integrity: Commentary

This is a member only resource

Become a Member » Log In »
Toward a broader - but still rigorous - definition of leader integrity: Commentary
The Leadership Quarterly

The impetus for this special issue of The Leadership Quarterly grew out of the desire of a small but enthusiastic group of leadership scholars who were interested in the concepts of integrity in general and behavioral integrity (the consistency between words and actions) in particular. Guest Editor Tony Simons' (2002) theoretical article in Organization Science had sparked a great deal of interest in behavioral integrity including the interest of a then-doctoral student at Binghamton University Guest Editor Mike Palanski. Palanski was seeking advice for his dissertation and Simons wished to build a cadre of scholars with an interest in leader behavioral integrity. A year or so later Palanski had the “misfortune” of presenting a paper on integrity as the final presenter in the final session on the final day of the 2006 Academy of Management conference in Atlanta. To his surprise the room was packed and it quickly became clear that others also wished to study leader integrity in more depth. Most of the previous research had focused on behavioral integrity. The Journal of Applied Psychology published two early articles on behavioral integrity (Dineen Lewicki & Tomlinson 2006; Simons Liu Friedman & Parks 2007) and Simons began to organize 1–2 symposia on behavioral integrity each year at the Academy of Management conferences. As momentum increased behavioral integrity began to emerge as a relatively simple and “clean” construct that had significant explanatory power. However behavioral integrity is strictly speaking an amoral construct; in otherwords it focuses on consistency betweenwords and actions without regard to the content of the words and actions. Thus the answer to the wearisome question “Did Hitler have behavioral integrity?” is essentially yes.While perhaps not satisfying this view allowed behavioral integrity to mostly escape endless debate about morality and proceed to empirical testing—and demonstrated practical usefulness. Yet there continued to be a sense that perhaps something was missing because the common understanding of integrity includes the idea of moral or ethical behavior. In the desire to revisit this aspect of integrity and to push nascent work on behavioral integrity even further the idea of a special issue was born. Senior Leadership Quarterly Editor Leanne Atwater was very supportive of the idea and suggested that Tony and Mike seek someone with a somewhat broader perspective to assist in the editing process. We were honored to have Linda Treviño join as the third guest editor as Linda's extensive work on ethical leadership is a natural complement to leader integrity. In all five papers made it into the Special Issue. Each of them serves to push the frontier of leader integrity research and four of them broaden the conceptualization of leader integrity beyond word/action consistency. It was a pleasure to guest edit these articles and we hope that you benefit from reading them.

The Leadership Quarterly 24 (2013) 391 – 394

Become a Member

The IOC is a global community of coaches.


Contact Us

  • Institute of Coaching
  • McLean Hospital
  • 115 Mill Street, Mail Stop 314
  • Belmont, MA 02478
  • Phone: 617-767-2670