It is perhaps the most important principle of leadership and dependent on integrity because it demands truthfulness and honesty. … Integrity means telling the truth even if the truth is ugly. Better to be honest than to delude others, because then you are probably deluding yourself, too

Metal signpost with four arrows, “integrity”, “ethics”, “respect”, “honesty” words on them, blue sky with clouds and sun in a background.

Why is integrity so important?

Having honesty and integrity in the workplace is one of the most important qualities of great leadership in business and I am going to tell you why…

The lack of integrity leads to distrust.

I am absolutely sure that you have either used the word “integrity” yourself to describe how you expect someone to behave towards you, or you have had that word used on you, when someone is asking something of you.

It is a word that we hear so often. It can describe a myriad of emotions, but most of all, it is used to draw attention to ethical behaviour, honesty and trustworthiness; or the lack of it.

Integrity is about doing the right thing, regardless of circumstances, convenience, or alliances.

In my experience, people who act without integrity tend to say that the world is so competitive, and therefore, to get ahead, or to even stay afloat, they had no choice but to behave without paying much heed to the ethics of their actions.

Yes, the world is a robust place, and of course, strategic thinking plays a crucial role in ensuring you have upward mobility, and that you achieve success in whatever you want.

But, should you not hold yourself to certain standards of integrity, at all times?

If you are a leader of people, an entrepreneur, or a business owner, I strongly recommend that you accept the reality that you’ll be held to a much higher standard of integrity, than others.

You hear the word “integrity” used in so many contexts, but have you taken time to reflect on what happens if you behave without it?

The lack of integrity leads to distrust.

I have noticed that distrust does not exhibit itself freely. When you question someone’s trustworthiness, they will not retort back by accepting that you should not trust them.

The dishonesty in people is mostly hidden.

I was recently in a meeting with an organisation to determine its future growth plans. The various managers in the firm offered evidence of how growth can be driven. I noticed the leaders expecting and accepting their analysis.

But when I delved deeper with individuals in the company, I found out that beneath the surface, many of the same managers withheld full disclosure about what was actually happening.

And as I sought to work out why they were not being frank about things, it became apparent that there was a palpable distrust between most of them.

Many business owners, and leaders think that their duty is to be optimistic all the time. They feel that being buoyant will keep their teams motivated.

But next time you have a strategy meeting, look carefully at what are the real sentiments of your team.

Are there subterranean undercurrents of suspicion that exist? Are your line leaders creating smoke and mirrors to cover up the truth? Do people only want vague discussions or are they offering objective views that are supported by workplace evidence?

As a leader, you must trust your people, and the same time believe in your ability to lead. This way, you can give an accurate picture of where your company is, and offer a pathway to growth.

And, all this can only happen when you are honorable yourself; create an environment at your workplace that fosters the growth of integrity in others; and hold yourself, and everyone with you, accountable for acting with honesty.

The next thing I notice in companies and organizations where there is a lack of integrity is the prevalence of apathy or indifference.

In dealing with another situation over the past few weeks for a client, I realized that in my conversations with the executives there, most were unable to make clear statements, offer definitive opinions, or even show tangible involvement in the office.

Capacity was not the problem, but instead it seemed that they were all just disinterested. And, because of this lackadaisical attitude, their odds of success are pretty slim, and totally unpredictable.

In my businesses, I know that an indifferent employee will make it difficult for me to grow when opportunities arise. Apathetic people don’t possess the skills to notice, seize, and act on any fortuitous breaks that present themselves.

Many people mistake the lack of integrity for indifference.

Remember, in life and at work, when you spot an integrity-deficient person, do not ignore their ability to disrupt your progress.

If your line manager at work offers an untruth to the CEO, you know that in time, they will have no qualms about throwing you under the proverbial bus.

And, as a line manager, if you catch your down-liner rolling their eyes at your CEO while you struggle to explain something, don’t disregard this as a harmless attempt to curry favor with the big boss.

These subtle hints offer you an indication of a person’s integrity or rather the lack of it.

Avoid associating yourself with people who don’t behave with honor. Having them in your company will serve to grow distrust and disinterest in good people. And, having them in your circle of influence will mean that they will breed toxicity around you.

Behave with integrity, and demand that people around you do the same. Because if not, the consequences will be dire.

“There are no moral shortcuts in the game of business or life,” he writes. “There are, basically, three kinds of people, the unsuccessful, the temporarily successful, and those who become and remain successful. The difference is character.”

Integrity Means Doing the Right Thing Because It’s the Right Thing to Do

Leaders with integrity may not be the most famous or flashy of leaders, and they don’t care. Integrity means doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. And that’s what makes success.

Importance of Integrity in Giving and Keeping Promises

Leaders keep their promises. They give promises carefully, even reluctantly, but once they have given that promise, they follow through on that promise without fail. And they always tell the truth.

Jack Welch calls it “candor.” He believes that if you are afraid of candor, then you don’t have the guts to be an effective leader. You are going to surround yourself with yes people who will say what you want to hear instead of saying the truth.

Leaders with Integrity Aren’t Afraid of The Truth

Leaders with integrity is not afraid to face the truth. This is called the reality principle, or “seeing the world as it really is, not as you wish it to be.”

It is perhaps the most important principle of leadership and dependent on integrity because it demands truthfulness and honesty. Many companies and organizations fail because they don’t follow the reality principle.

Integrity means telling the truth even if the truth is ugly. Better to be honest than to delude others, because then you are probably deluding yourself, too.

Leaders need to be courageous, but they also need to be open to the idea that they could be wrong. There are many leaders who eventually fail because they refuse to question their own assumptions or conclusions.

“Errant assumptions lie at the root of every failure.” – Alec Mackenzie

There’s a difference between being confident and blind. Let’s face it, in today’s world of rapid change, there is a possibility that you are partially wrong or even completely wrong.

Maybe you are not wrong, but just opening yourself to to that possibility is going to make you a more effective leader because it will open your mind to new ideas or new thinking.

The True Mark of Leadership

There should be no exceptions to honesty and integrity. Integrity is a state of mind and is not situational. If you compromise your integrity in small situations with little consequence, then it becomes very easy to compromise on the small situations.

Leaders with integrity always err on the side of fairness, especially when other people are unfair. As a matter of fact, the true mark of leadership is how fair you can be when other people are treating you unfairly.

This does not only happen CEO’s, entrepreneurs, or a business owner.

Did you ever think about the relationship between a recruiter and a candidate as a great example? A recruiter is getting an assignment from his/her client hiring manger to look for the right candidate following a job description given by the client hiring manger, now the recruiter searching within his/her network for the perfect candidate. The recruiter wants to reach his/her goals by finding the best candidate based on the given budget and JD (Job Description) now he/she contacting the candidate and discuss things like skills and salary, remember that a recruiter always will go below the given salary, this way he/she has a more stable position in the salary negotiation, when the candidate is the perfect match this will be send out to the client which will be organizing an interview.

The relationship between recruiter and candidate is and will never be so close as the relationship between client hiring manger and recruiter, here you can speak that there is some sort of integrity, in the relationship between the recruiter and the candidate there is no integrity at all, more a fee for the recruiter when the client would hire the proposed candidate.

Ask yourself the following 6 questions and try to answer them with honesty.

1)   What does the word “integrity” mean to you?

2)   Have you ever had consequences for doing the right thing?

3)   What do you do when you need to admit your mistakes?

4)   Do others consider your integrity?

5)   How have you dealt with failure in the past?

6)   Do others consider you to be trustworthy?

Having all this be said, I think that all I wrote now, is making more sense and people all around you and for those who reading this article finally realizing that integrity is the most important ingredient in every personal and working relationship and does not make a difference if you apply for a job, building your network or building your career. The lack of integrity is these days so common and I would like to see a shift that people would obtain and respect integrity in all their endeavors.

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