In the absence of personal leadership, integrity ceases to exist. As Confucius succinctly drove home a point: “Strength of a nation is derived from the integrity of its homes”: a national leader cannot be behind every statistical table, transaction or agreement. The political leaders must be surrounded by intelligent people with high integrity and charisma. [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Role of Integrity, charisma and personal leadership in national development


In the absence of personal leadership, integrity ceases to exist.

As Confucius succinctly drove home a point: “Strength of a nation is derived from the integrity of its homes”: a national leader cannot be behind every statistical table, transaction or agreement. The political leaders must be surrounded by intelligent people with high integrity and charisma.
Charismatic leadership is the key that binds the entire social structure and helps maintain a high degree of integrity be it in commerce, or politics. Leadership plays a significant role at a national level and at an individual family unit level. I am not referring to regimental or military type leadership, but personal leadership at a family unit level. At a national level when leadership demonstrates lack of charismatic leadership qualities what results is compromised integrity. Lack of personal leadership leads to lack of integrity in all dealings.

Rail passengers -The former regime was accused of over-runs in the cost of the northern railway.

In the absence of leadership, honesty and integrity fails to survive.

Highly publicised financial malpractices as reported in the media in the recent weeks are driven by the total lack personal leadership though it is given a political undertone. When any political leadership is surrounded by unintelligent social misfits they work on a different agenda. When they lack emotional intelligence, personal insecurities come in to play and personal interest comes to the fore.

Lack of integrity

Regrettably, we vote politicians to office and then hit them in all ends for the lack of integrity. We tend to turn a blind eye to more rampant day to day activities outside of the political realm.

Whilst not being a crusader for consumer rights, what I am referring to is demonstrated by lack of integrity at a pharmacy, at the grocery store, in school or even at a gas station. As consumers there have been reported and demonstrated compromise of intgrity in day to day affairs that we are all vulnerable to.

Recently, it was reported a pharmacy dispensing expired medication; A grocery store carried expired food and had weighs of short measures; School tutorial staff encouraged the student population to attend private tuition: each one teaching one programme; School heads demanded kick backs to admit students; Dodging tax. The list is endless.

At a commercial level, under invoicing to pay lower duties on imports is all too common.

Published data has questionable data integrity. Most statistical reports (GDP, CPI or tourist arrivals) published had to be subsequently defended. This clearly demonstrated lack of systemic integrity. Data integrity is questionable.

Whilst not commenting on the costing associated with the constriction of expressways it is all known about cost over-runs. These costs over-runs were partly due to pilferages: people living in the vicinity would take away every removable material for no valid reason.

No matter whom we vote to office and on what platform they canvass be it “yahapalana” or “suba anagatha” so long as there is no personal leadership we will have no visible integrity. Every opportunity the individual gets, one will try to outsmart the other person for selfish motives: Take undue economic advantage. This remains the status quo.

Without individual integrity at the very top and bottom no organization/nation can thrive for extended length of time. The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation is a case in point. There is widespread corruption at all levels. Systemic integrity must be the core of any operations. Be it a family unit or at a national level. A culture of individual integrity will lead to the development of business integrity and that must be articulated throughout to be the core value across all stakeholders and they be held accountable. Turning to party political leadership in the hope of fixing a systemic gap precipitated by individual lack of integrity is fundamentally flawed. The answer lies not within the political leadership but within individual leadership. If you lose your car ky in the garage in the dark, looking for the keys on the side walk under street light is of little help…….simple analogy!

“You must be the change you wish to see in this world” – Mahatma Gandhi
Fraud Detection vs. Fraud Prevention

Integrity relates to the overall individual character.

When every statistic has be defended and every brokerage house be the subject of capital market statutory audit due to strained integrity of the individuals that operates within the system, the greatest fall out becomes loss of trust. Such a compromise of trust results in loss of faith in the system that we operate. The Golden Key aftermath is a living testimony to this.

At all times individual leadership and integrity should be held high and not compromised. When the individual sets the benchmark high and acts as role model the stakeholders will emulate the one at the top be it at a family level or at a national level.

At a national level, when all stakeholders comply with a culture of fraud prevention and be the core value across all economic agencies then less energies and resources can be allocated towards fraud detection. Energies and resources needed for such initiatives can be better utilized for much more progressive initiatives.

Charismatic leadership

In any social hierarchy, the leaders are trusted by their followers. Leaders should be charismatic and instill confidence in the followers and steer them in the right direction. The leader’s words match the deeds. Once a trusted leader compromises integrity, regaining is a challenge.
We have heard, read and seen those people who made millions through questionable business transactions. They make money, an excess of it and then end up with stress related health problems. When the intent is wrong in any commercial dealing and runs against socially accepted means of making money, that process creates negative energies.

What my Father taught me

During my formative years, while I was on school holidays one early morning the village butcher came to our house and wanted to see my father; at that time he was the Coroner of the area. My father came and started talking to the butcher. In the process the butcher handed me a thick envelope asking me to give it to my father. Not knowing what it was, I passed the envelope to my father seated next to me. He opened the packet and much to his annoyance he found money. There was a death in the butcher’s family a (business partner) and he requested my father who was the Coroner to expedite the process to release the body. He immediately returned the money to the butcher and helped him with the proceedings.
Though this was a time when he was in dire need of money as he was putting up a house, he was such a forthright person he never accepted money for discharging his duty. A few days later he disposed my mother’s sewing machine to buy building material. Having observed the entire sequence of events, I understood what a bribe is. More importantly I developed a deep respect for his integrity. What made an indelible mark was his rejection of the offer? That has stood in good stead in me to date and made me who I am.

Development of a Integrity Index Grid

The focus of this article is on how national development should be driven by individual leadership and integrity and not on political party leaders’ lines.

The core is individual leadership and integrity plays a vital part in family and national development.

- Integrity Index Grid
- Personal Leadership
- Be ethical in all dealings
- Demonstrate Integrity
- Demonstrate courage and trustworthiness
- Loyalty
- Be courteous and polite in all
- Be empathetic

(The writer is a capital and derivatives markets’ specialist based abroad who occasionally
comments on ethics and good

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.