Bob Marley said, “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” Integrity is defined using terms such as uprightness, soundness of character, moral wholeness, honesty and ethical behavior. And it is a necessary ingredient in having a healthy workplace. Much of what I have read on integrity misses the point by saying integrity is demonstrated by showing up on time, being professional, and building trust. But, it is more than that.
To have integrity you must believe in yourself. You must trust that deep inside you hold the answers. This means that you know things like what is best, what is right, and what is true for yourself. Then you can allow your personal sense of ethics and integrity to be your guide. So this means that we have to really question rules, processes or practices, instead of blindly following them. It takes courage to do what you know is right and it takes self-confidence to strike out on your own.
Integrity in the workplace can then be expanded to include these 7 behaviors:
- Being honest about your capabilities and what you can and cannot achieve. If you can’t turn something around in two days, then own it instead of producing sub-par work. Honesty also means speaking up about roles or tasks that are inefficient or not productive. And honesty also means you are able to say that something is just not good or right or works.
- Questioning rules or processes that just don’t make sense or are not in the best interest of customers or employees. One of the main reasons things don’t change in work environments is because people don’t stand up and say, “Why are we doing this”, it is out dated or doesn’t work or is really unethical.
- Taking responsibility for your actions and not shifting blame. If you screw something up, and we all do, admit it and fix it.
- Maintaining confidentiality in both not stealing intellectual property or sharing customer/client information. This also includes not gossiping about customers or clients.
- Walking your talk and leading by example. Putting words into action and acting with integrity is more important than just talking about it.
- Communicating openly about wins and losses, success and failures. Everyone should be in the loop on issues that affect them. Even if it’s a bad thing coming, like a workforce reduction, it should be shared. People can handle the truth. And the only way to learn from both success and failure is to openly discuss and analyze them.
- Sticking with people for the long haul. I was recently watching my daughter in the play Mary Poppins and there was a line about trusting in people instead of ideas. Good people can have both good and bad ideas, but in the end they will see something through that is successful.