I don’t know if Charlie’s silence here today is right or wrong; I’m not a judge or jury. But I can tell you this: He won’t sell anybody out to buy his future! And that, my friends, is called integrity. That’s called courage. Now that’s the stuff leaders should be made of.
– Al Pacino as Lt. Col. Frank Slade, Scent of a Woman

Integrity. It is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. People often say they have integrity, but the assertion begs a raised eyebrow. Claiming to have integrity is the obvious act of someone who lacks it. The truly virtuous don’t boast about it but instead proceed about their business.

Is honesty always the best policy? No. There are many exceptions to the rule. It would be cruel to tell a child that the Santa at the mall is only pretending to be the real guy.

Likewise, practicing integrity is inadvisable if you are a politician. Suppose you make a campaign promise that you actually delivered on. That would create an ugly precedent, as your voters would then expect you to do even more work delivering on even more promises. You would barely have a second to spend alone with the special interest groups that line your pockets. Furthermore, fulfilling a promise would mean you could no longer make that same promise while you’re up for reelection.

But despite all the above exceptions, integrity is an essential character trait for leadership. The following collection of quotes explores the concepts of integrity, honesty, and character.

Quotes About Telling the Truth


Mahatma Gandhi quote on integrity


“Truth never damages a cause that is just.”
– Mahatma Gandhi


Ann Landers quote on integrity


“The naked truth is always better than the best-dressed lie.”
– Ann Landers


Jacques Abbadie quote on integrity


“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
– Jacques Abbadie


Albert Einstein quote on integrity


“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
– Albert Einstein


Spencer Johnson quote on integrity


“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.”
– Spencer Johnson


Patrick Henry quote on integrity


“For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.”
– Patrick Henry


Virginia Woolf quote on integrity


“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
– Virginia Woolf


Marcus Aurelius quote on integrity


“Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.”
– Marcus Aurelius


George R.R. Martin quote on integrity


“Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”
– George R.R. Martin


Plato quote on integrity


“You should not honor men more than truth.”
– Plato


George Washington quote on integrity


“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”
– George Washington


George Washington quote on integrity


“Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.”
– George Washington


Fyodor Dostoevsky quote on integrity


“Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky


Dr. Seuss quote on integrity


“I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”
– Dr. SeussHorton Hatches the Egg


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn quote on integrity


“The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. One word of truth outweighs the world.”
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn