Intelligence is Important but Integrity Matters More

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When you think of leadership, you want a wise leader who is quick on their feet and sharp in their vision and intelligent in their decisions.

But there is something that triumphs intelligence when it comes to leadership.

Because even for the quickest, smartest, best leader, if they don’t have integrity all the intelligence is for naught.

As we have learned in history and in current events, high intelligence is no guarantee of good judgment, and good judgment is closer to wisdom than high intelligence is.

When we lead with integrity, our leadership is asking us to meet reality with the core of who we are—and frankly that takes courage.

Integrity trumps intelligence when the leader knows …

Brains are good but character is better.

Our work environments are designed for us to be nimble and smart, but intelligence doesn’t get people to connect with you or follow you. It’s your character that shines as an example. It’s the leaders with a strong moral character and good old-fashioned values who stand above the rest.

Wisdom is fundamental but trust is vital.

You don’t gain wisdom by thinking highly of yourself, but you can gain admiration and appreciation when you lead from trust. When you lead with trust you connect your heart to another. And where people feel caring and connection, where fear is minimized, trust can grow freely.

Cleverness is helpful but honesty is nobler.

Cleverness and intelligence may get noticed and even remembered, but when you lead with honesty you lead with a noble heart. The more honest you are with yourself and with others, the more purpose and meaning your life can hold. If your leadership is honest, everything else will follow.

An analytical mind is critical but an open mind is pivotal.

The facts, the spreadsheets, the figures are all important, but an open mind allows others to be heard and understood. Listening with an open heart is priceless beyond what any figures on a spreadsheet can measure.

Expertise is significant but humility is honorable.

Humility of heart is the first step toward both virtue and wisdom. A lack of wisdom and intelligence can be compensated with scrupulous integrity, but without humility you leave yourself no room to learn and grow.

Integrity is the most important of all the virtues.

It’s a requirement for accomplishing anything of value. When you become a leader of integrity, you leadership is clearly defined and meaningful.

Integrity is the sum of who you are. Guard it, nurture it—and lead with it.

Lead From Within: Integrity is not a process or a practice, but a principle that leaders treasure when they know what matters.




N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Richard Lock

    16. Dec, 2014

    When you read the news, it is easy to believe integrity is hard to come by at the top of organisations. It is sometimes miscast as an old fashioned value, but without it, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Nadim Alamuddin

    16. Dec, 2014

    Very well said…loved it!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Ace-Nectar

    16. Dec, 2014

    Integrity can only be developed individually when there is Honesty.
    Success at any level only comes when each of us has individually sorted through our personal box of emotional issues – this is where good use of Intelligence is required.

    After that Honesty and a cart load of guts -Tenacity – solidifies into true purpose, honour and goal-setting; this is Integrity.

    Leading From Within instills respect: in yourself and for others: Dignity

    This is no easy feat in any context -it is difficult being a decent Human Being at any level of society.
    Honesty solidifies our sense of purpose into Integrity but only through the teeth-gritting determination invoked by Tenacity.

    Honesty. Integrity.Tenacity. Always “hit” the bull’s-eye.

    Thank you Ms Daskal for this insightful approach into broaching a very important and relevant issue in our civilization today.

    God Bless

    Reply to this comment
  4. LaRae Quy

    16. Dec, 2014

    Love your definition of integrity: Integrity is not a process or a practice, but a principle that leaders treasure when they know what matters.

    Great thoughts here, Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Jordan

    16. Dec, 2014

    Interesting post. I appreciate your point of view.

    In response, I wanted to share one thought, my colleagues and I have come to believe that integrity is in fact a bestowed quality. It is the consequence of authenticity judged true by others through the alignment of actions and identity.

    Thanks for your wise thinking, and for sharing it. Keep up the great work!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      16. Dec, 2014


      You can bestow integrity on another, but we have to be able to look in the mirror and ask ourselves courageously are we speaking, leading and living in our integrity, because at the end of the day, we must be accountable for ourselves.


      Reply to this comment
  6. Garren Fagaragan

    16. Dec, 2014

    I was moved by this post…feeling the truth behind the words.

    Thank you Lolly

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      16. Dec, 2014

      Thank you Garren

      It is always an honor to read your thoughts. Truth speaks volume, it touches our heart and moves our soul.


      Reply to this comment
  7. Beate Führer

    17. Dec, 2014

    Dear lollydaskal – great inspiration!

    Benevolence to think in that sense and act proves how far a person has matured. The gift contained therein, met and reflected its sense – that of life itself – at all levels – positive – life-affirming – principle of growth and development.

    Best greetings Beate

    We can grow beyond ourselves – if we are with our minds and hearts in harmony.
    All gifts are given to us, we may only want to recognize!

    Reply to this comment
  8. Panteli Tritchew

    18. Dec, 2014

    The definition of an integer is a whole number; that is, a number that is not a fraction; that is, a thing complete in itself. It’s no coincidence that these words are related. It’s our integrity that makes us whole; else, we disintegrate. As you wonderfully say, Lolly, “Integrity is the sum of who you are.”

    Reply to this comment
  9. David Pethick

    19. Dec, 2014

    Hi Lolly

    As a former scientist and someone who works with a lot of analytical people, this one “An analytical mind is critical but an open mind is pivotal” is spot on.

    A lot of good managers are very smart people. A few great leaders realize that the facts in front of them are a representation of the past and present, but don’t in themselves provide an insight into the future.

    I think of spreadsheets like blinkers on a horse during a race. They stop one from being distracted by peripheral matters, but sometimes what is happening off to the side is more important than what is directly in front of us.

    Kind Regards.

    David Pethick

    Reply to this comment
  10. Rehan Uddin

    20. Dec, 2014

    Happy Holidays to you Lolly Apu. And a BIG Thanks for a special Message me. Your every post are very significant.
    Safe on all time
    Best regards

    Reply to this comment
  11. Rehan Uddin

    20. Dec, 2014

    Happy Holidays to you Lolly Apu. And a BIG Thanks for a special Message me. Your every post are very significant.

    Safe on all time
    Best regards

    Reply to this comment
  12. Patrick

    21. Dec, 2014

    I love the honesty section.

    In my experience, the clever usually get caught, the honest are immune from that trap due to their authenticity.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Earl Breon

    09. Jan, 2015

    As a Marine who teaches 14 leadership traits, one of which is integrity, brilliant post. I see integrity as the very foundation of ones leadership ability. Without it, everything crumbles.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Nasera*

    21. Feb, 2015

    How true it is..! Very well written, I completely agree with this..!!

    Reply to this comment
  15. Linda

    23. Jul, 2015

    “Brains are good, but character is better”. A good brain with a bad character wont achieve much. Integrity last longer than intelligent. Hard truth, thanks.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Michal Petras

    07. Aug, 2015

    I definitely agree with you Lolly. Our integrity is a fundamental characteristic feature we can offer. To tell the truth and keep our words is a necessity of any great leader

    Reply to this comment
  17. Nestor Maniebo Pestelos

    13. Dec, 2015

    I agree. Without integrity, everything is lost.

    Reply to this comment
  18. kelvin

    23. Nov, 2016

    Hi Lolly,
    Great insigh on leadership i must confess..youhave proven to me once again that Leadership is more of an ar than a science….it take a heart that understands the quality integrity bring to his leadership disposition to be opensminded.A lot of leaders see being opensmined as a weakness…you nailed it?well done!.

    Reply to this comment
  19. Sandeep Ragunanan

    29. Apr, 2017

    Thank you for the great insight. As a manager in middle management we grapple to meet the needs of the executive without causing offence to staff we lead. Leading with integrity and humility is necessary to allow to keep credibility and agreed that it is a skill that needs to be mastered through common sense of everyday experience.

    Reply to this comment
  20. Sylvester Vanessa

    22. Mar, 2018

    I have seen many leaders with integrity suffering in big corporations. How do we renew the corporate minds to believe tha integrity is rewarding? Thank you for sharing these great insights.

    Reply to this comment
  21. tina

    11. Dec, 2019

    Real integrity is doing the right thing ,knowing that nobody going to know whether you did or not

    Reply to this comment

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