Great Leaders have Unquestionable Integrity

By | August 22, 2021

[August 22, 2021]    If there is but one characteristic of great leaders that stands tall above all others, it is the possession of unquestionable integrity.  Without it, all the other key leader traits will amount to nothing at all.

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” – Dwight David Eisenhower

Any discussion about leadership will habitually include integrity as an important leader trait, and rightly so.  Integrity and leadership are discussed together frequently because, candidly, they are inseparable as “two peas in a pod.”

One thing about integrity not frequently discussed in open conversation is that integrity is no short-term or easy trait to hold.  It takes consistent honorable service over many years, and because it is hard to do, it requires tremendous moral courage to sustain.

How senior leaders differ from other, junior leaders, are that the former’s behavior is both more closely and frequently scrutinized and held to rigidly high standards.  The possession of integrity, then, is much more difficult to sustain as a leader moves upward in an organization – as they will be tested often and rigorously.

Any senior leader knows this and those more competent will welcome the continued testing of their character.  They fundamentally understand that the secret to maintaining the necessary moral fiber of leadership requires a mental workout.  When a leader is not tested, their character weakens.

The crucible of combat is where the most intense testing of leadership occurs.  Integrity is a trait that is central to successful combat leaders and where it is lacking, troops can pay a price with their lives.  Combat-proven senior leadership is where integrity stands out the most but all leaders must possess it.

In our changing world, integrity will be a more valuable trait than ever before.  In the U.S. we see a moral relativism seeping into many leaders.  This dangerous trend can be reversed only through strong leadership and a good dose on the disinfectant known as integrity.


Integrity: Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. Moral soundness. Honesty. Freedom from corrupting influence or motive—used especially with reference to the fulfillment of contracts, the discharge of agencies, trusts and the like.  Uprightness.  Rectitude.  The quality or condition of being whole or undivided.  Completeness.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

21 thoughts on “Great Leaders have Unquestionable Integrity

  1. British Citizen

    I agree with Gen. Satterfield on this, and strongly sl. What else is it that matters? Well, there are other traits but not betraying those around you is a start and the other side of the coin of integrity.

  2. Floyd Cheetos

    Well, we all know now that Biden is a habitual liar. He has no integrity or he is completely senile and doesn’t know where he is. The latter is the most likely. Gen. Satterfield, another spot-on blog post for those of us with an interest in leadership.

    1. Gil Johnson

      I’m not so sure I agree with Gen. Satterfield or Floyd and others here. You can be a great leader without integrity. Just look at the great savage leaders of the past or of the Taliban. Maybe others would disagree but I think integrity is more of applying modern day values to leadership and ignoring other, more important traits.

      1. Rev. Michael Cain

        I too disagree with you on this Gil. But I also think you have a point. Still, today you do need integrity to operate. People need to be able to trust you and without integrity you cannot be trusted to do what you say you will do or should do. Biden is an example of someone without integrity.

    1. Doug Smith

      Ouch, former President Donald Trump slammed the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as “the greatest foreign policy humiliation in the history of the United States of America” during a rally in Alabama on Saturday.

  3. Scotty Bush

    Hey Gen. Satterfield, thank you for putting together this little series on the key characteristics of great leaders. We all know by now that the US has a lack of leadership at the top. That is unquestionable. We also have a lack of good leadership in our military, the Department of State and among our intelligence agencies. Someone needs to clean house.

  4. Bryan Z. Lee

    Integrity. Someone forgot to tell the liberals about this concept. Oh, they are the antithesis of integrity. That is why they are coming apart.

  5. Anya B.

    Gen. Satterfield, good article on an important topic. When things are going well, shitty leaders like Joe Biden can get by. But when things are hard, weak leaders like him fold up and go away. Joe, just go away. Maybe he could save us all by simply resigning.

    1. JT Patterson

      Tripping up the stairs, only Joe Biden can do that … figuratively.

    2. Dead Pool Guy

      Enough on Joe Biden. We all now know the man is unfit for his position. The problem? What to do about the destruction he has wrought upon us and parts of the world. How do we repair the lost faith in America? How do we restore our reputation? How do we solve the problems that Biden has created and continues to perpetuate?

      1. Fred Weber

        Great questions Dead Pool Guy. That is what, perhaps, Gen. Satterfield could address but I think he has hit on this topic in the past.

  6. Linux Man

    Crazy stuff going on. Yep, if you cannot be trusted, no one will be on your side.

  7. McStompie

    Another great article and what I see as a mini-series. More people should read what is going on in the world and see that it also affects us here. Just look at how inflation has taken off and how our borders are wide open. Now Afghanistan embarrassment and the fallout from it will develop over years. It will take a strong leader to get us out of this mess and Joe Biden is not that person. Neither is K. Harris.

  8. Audrey

    Great little series you have going on here, Gen. Satterfield, well done!
    Smack down to Joe Biden the resident mental patient in the White House.

    1. Nick Lighthouse

      Good one, Audrey. I think most people are now waking up the fact that Biden does not have the ability to be president of the United States and more are willing to say so publicly and loudly. More folks need to tell the truth about this liar. He is the emperor with no clothes on.

    2. Frank Graham

      Not one of us here ever knew any different that the Biden-Harris ticket for leading our nation was nothing more than a liberal’s wet dream. They got what they wanted in them and now we are all suffering the consequences.

      1. Greg Heyman

        Yes, Frank you are correct. Now we are stuck. Some say the 25th Amendment. Is this where the liberal crowd is going? They are looking at upcoming elections and seeing what another Jimmy Carter can do to those idiots.


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