A while ago, I was asked to lead a discussion on the topic of integrity at a training institute where I worked as a presenter. I was honored to speak on this topic given that integrity is a value that plays a fundamental role in every aspect of my life. While preparing for my presentation, I was thinking of different ways I could share my opinions on how to incorporate the value of integrity into my life without looking dressy or worse. By chance, I came across a quote that captures my view of what integrity means to me. A quote by CS Lewis says, “Integrity does the right thing. Even when no one is watching.” A similar quote from Oprah Winfrey says, “True integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that no one will ever know whether you did it or not.” In other words, the way I see it – integrity is where our beliefs, words, and actions intersect. It is not something that can be faked or deceptively displayed to gain accolades or praise from others.
In the most succinct way I can describe integrity, it is the equivalent of breathing life into our morals and values. What I do know for sure is that the act of embodying integrity in our lives on a daily basis is a choice. I often say, the choices people make, whether good or bad, can affect the entire course of their lives. Integrity does not mean that a person is perfect in any way. It just shows that some people are more conscientious in making morally sound decisions than others. How wonderful it would be if more people could make more selfless choices.
Do the right thing
For most of my career, I have worked in two areas that have the greatest impact on the success or failure of a business, namely financial and human resources. Consequently, during my tenure, I have arbitrated many cases whose integrity has come into question. As I head over each case, I always keep the words of wisdom at the fore of my mind that a respected colleague told me years ago while teaching a workshop on principles of ethics and integrity. He said, “When it comes to integrity in the workplace, there is no such thing as a bad person. There are only good people who are put in bad situations.”
Depending on your belief system, I think there can be some truth to this statement. However, I would be hard pressed to agree to these sentiments in their entirety given my belief system around integrity which is to “do the right thing even when no one is watching”. In this statement, there is no good or bad judgment on the individual. I simply think that an honest person who is put in a bad situation is more likely to choose to do the right thing. Of course, being honest does not mean that there is no room for error or that an honest person is always picture perfect in every word, idea, or action. However, whether it is at work or play, an honest person is sure to hold onto this value no matter the situation.
In my profession, my goal is to always be very intentional in leading others by example. When training my employees, I teach them to take pride in their work and carry out their duties as if every step they take and their decision is under scrutiny. This strategy is not intended to intimidate. As a matter of fact, I truly believe that an effective leader leads through motivation, not through intimidation. Therefore, as a leader, I use my experience and my values to motivate others to do the right thing at all times even if no one is watching. This goes a long way in your career as well as your personal life.
Integrity in relationships
I believe that integrity is just as important in professional relationships. Everyone has likely, at one point or another, been involved in a situation or had a professional relationship in which someone they know has demonstrated a lack of integrity. In many of these situations people talk as if they value integrity, but in reality their actions prove otherwise. The only thing that never lies is a person’s actions. The way a person acts will always show who they really are more than the words they speak. There are plenty of people smiling in your face while plotting to stab you in the back – figuratively speaking, of course! As Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you what he is, believe him; the first time.” I’ve learned over the years to really understand this adage okta training.
Therefore, when it comes to professional relationships and personal relationships as well; I watch people’s actions and see if their words match. Those who don’t, are the ones who show you who they really are through their actions. These individuals are more likely to make poor choices, usually at someone else’s expense. Their tactics may work to their advantage in the short term, but it certainly won’t work for them in the long term. Remember, nothing good or bad lasts forever! Deception and lack of integrity will always catch up to a person.
Therefore, when it comes to professional relationships and personal relationships as well; I watch people’s actions and see if their words match. Those who don’t, are the ones who show you who they really are through their actions. These individuals are more likely to make poor choices, usually at someone else’s expense. Their tactics may work to their advantage in the short term, but it certainly won’t work for them in the long term. Remember, nothing good or bad lasts forever! Deception and lack of integrity will always catch up to a person. That’s why I don’t spend time hating people who show a lack of integrity in professional or personal relationships. You don’t have to worry about trying to respond to anyone in these situations. For them, just living without integrity should be the worst punishment ever.
To sum things up, given my view that integrity is a value in which our beliefs, words, and actions intersect, I don’t think it is something one can show in one part of their life and not in the other. It’s not something that can be turned on or off on a whim. Integrity is such a powerful value that it can greatly impact personal and professional relationships. I believe integrity is important not only in our professional careers, but in all aspects of our lives. It is important to note that simply demonstrating integrity on a consistent basis does not make anyone better than anyone else. Everyone has a chance to redeem themselves even after proving a lapse in integrity. Which reminds me of another quote that says, “There is no better test of a person’s integrity than his behavior when he is wrong.” All in all, however, I think a person with real integrity will most likely choose to do the right thing no matter the situation. The reward is not in seeking recognition from others. The real reward is simply knowing that they did the right thing. Demonstrating integrity is a choice that everyone has the opportunity to make. Although integrity isn’t valued by everyone, I hope that more people will choose to do the right thing regardless of the situation or whether someone is watching it.