If we go with the premise that you can “learn” integrity, (the debate is far from over of course) then the next natural step would be to find someone to teach us. Would we seek a coach or mentor? I would go for mentor since there is a greater level of intimacy and trust between mentor and protege. By nature of the relationship both have something to gain in a non monetary sense.
So we decide to seek a mentor. A few weeks back I conducted a poll on Plaxo. For those of you not familiar with Plaxo it is a neat social media site with some cool tools for interaction including well polls. I asked the question “What characteristic do you look for most in a mentor?” I was wondering if given the choices of; wisdom, knowledge, integrity, honesty, experience, candor, availability, charisma, receptivity, and other how would integrity fair?
I had a decent sample 90 responses. There is an old saying in practical stats that says by the time a child reaches 30 he will likely be normal. This means a sample of a population of 30 or more has a high probability of being representative of the larger population.
So how did integrity fair? Pretty well it finished third with 15% of the vote behind wisdom 28% and knowledge 15%. If we use Professors Kouzes and Posner of The Leadership Challenge fame and consider that integrity and honesty are very similar attributed then integrity garnered 27%.
Well I am not sure you can learn it (integrity) but people sure want it in a mentor.
Perhaps all is not lost in the world of leadership…