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How to Have Integrity in the Business & Why It’s Important |..
Why is integrity important in leadership?
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…
Integrity in Business and How it Translates to Success
Whenever I hold a strategic planning session, the first value that all the executives agree on is integrity. Leaders know that honesty and integrity are the foundations of leadership. Leaders stand up for what they believe in.
For example, Jon Huntsman, Sr. is a multibillionaire who started a chemical company from scratch and grew it into a $12 billion enterprise. His book, Winners Never Cheat, is filled with stories taken from his own experience in which he steadfastly refused to compromise his principles. Huntsman says that integrity is the reason that he has been as successful as he is.
“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.”
Great Leaders Never Compromise Their Honesty and Integrity By Cheating
There are many examples of temporary winners who won by cheating. For a number of years, Enron was cited as one of America’s most innovating and daring companies.
The CEO of the company knew the most important people in the country, including the President of the United States.
Except that Enron’s success was built on lies, and the “winners” who headed the company are case studies in lack of integrity.
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.
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.
Thank you for reading my blog. Please comment below and share it with your friends. Do you have the habits of a successful leader? Click the button below to get my free report The Power of Habit.
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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today.
He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement.
Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on , , , Pinterest, Linkedin and .
Integrity in Business: Why It’s Important
Claire tossed her favorite paper down on the table with a huff. She’d read it every morning over coffee for the last year, and always loved getting a birds-eye glimpse of happenings in the world around her.
She’d always admired this particular publication for taking great care in publishing factual information, along with stories that seemed to represent a core of ‘business values’ that Claire really felt she could get behind and support.
She’d always respected businesses that were willing to stand up for it’s beliefs, and operate from a place of integrity. Seemed too few companies nowadays thought about values truth and honesty. In her book, the two values were cornerstones in life, and that meant they were cornerstones to good business too.
Her lip curled in disgust. Which is why this paper just lost all her respect, as well as her patronage. She couldn’t believe they would publish a story that’s so blatantly skewed from the truth. What happened to their professional integrity? Their professional ethics? Their honor?
Claire shook her head, bummed, and took a sip of coffee. Guess she’d have to find another paper to read in the mornings. Obviously she’d never be able to trust this one again. Another one bites the dust.Have you ever been disappointed by a business you greatly admired? Has a business you’ve always loved and supported suddenly done something that goes against the grain, and forced you to withdraw your support?
Sadly, Claire’s story is not unique. Customers and clients are disappointed all the time by business that don’t live up to their expectations, and who fail to operate with integrity.
But What is Integrity and Why is It Important?
“Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions.”
— Maria Razumich-Zec
The Urban Dictionary defines integrity as ‘Doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.’ YourDictionary.com defines the word as ‘the following of moral or ethical principles, and doing the same as what you say’.
In fact, if you Google the word integrity, it comes with many definitions; but the meaning boils down to the same result. Integrity equates to trust. If you can’t trust a company, why on earth would you bother doing business with them?
Related: Own a home service? How to build trust with clients
That’s why operating with integrity is so vital for a business today. With the rise of technology came the rise of greater transparency. Businesses who failed to be transparent in their dealings with the public, or did not deliver on their promises to customers and clients, found themselves getting reamed on the web.
The second a new potential customer or client Googles the name of your company and finds poor reviews extolling how other clients trusted you and were let down, is the same second you lost that new potential customer to someone else. All because of trust and integrity. Some businesses have it. Some don’t. Be one of the ones who have it.
What Does a Business with Integrity Look ?
Let’s continue on with our news example. There’s a show on HBO titled ‘ The Newsroom’. The overriding theme of the show is that these are hardcore journalists who simply want to report the news to their viewers. The real news, and not some sensationalized or skewed version to perpetuate a political agenda.
The ACN Network held fast to their professional integrity and remained dogged in their quest for truth, even when the going got tough, and the world (and their network top dogs) pushed back.If that meant they couldn’t run a story because some aspect of it couldn’t be verified, then they didn’t run that story. Even when all other news networks ran with a story, ACN refused to report on it, until the facts they were reporting could be verified 100%.
In short, they valued truth and honesty, even when truth and honestly wasn’t necessarily ‘pretty’, and they refused to apologize for it. As a result, ultimately they won their network’s respect, as well as the trust and respect of the public. They were a business bent on serving the world with integrity.
Does Your Business Operate with Integrity?
“There are seven things that will destroy us: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Religion without sacrifice; Politics without principle; Science without humanity; Business without ethics.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
The following are a few traits of businesses that commit to a code of ethics and to operating with integrity. Read through them, and see how your business currently measures up. If you find you fall short in some areas, then you know it’s something you can work on.
1. They are honest and truthful to their customers and clients, even when it hurts
Let’s face it… sometimes being honest is painful. Honesty requires some vulnerability, and most of us have a hard time with that.
In business especially, sometimes it can feel easier to ‘stretch the truth’ in order to maximize your earnings. But the long-term result is failure, along with a bad taste in your mouth. Who wants that?
2. They don’t make promises they can’t keep
Many businesses are great at making outrageous claims and promises, but few of them are able to back it up. This is only going to hurt you in the long run.
You might land a new customer who doesn’t know any better, but rarely will they remain in the dark. And once they step into the light and can see your company for what it is, they will never return. Worse, they’ll probably tell all their friends about their terrible experiences with you, and, well… you can guess the outcome of that.
3. They don’t take short-cuts
Businesses with integrity already know there are no short-cuts.
Building a successful business takes time, it takes blood, it takes sweat, tears, and a heck of a lot of hard work. They don’t look for ways to cheat their customers and clients to make more money, because they already know that ultimately they’re cheating themselves.
Winners over-deliver. Losers under-deliver. It’s that simple.
4. They treat their team with respect
Drawing once more from The Newsroom and it’s cast, the lead character Will McAvoy began the show treating his team carelessly, with little regard for them. He rarely remembered names, and would often shout at them when things weren’t going right. When the network did a 180 and chose to start reporting real news once again, it reawakened Will’s drive to be excellent.
Part of being excellent was being a leader his team could respect. Part of being a leader his team could respect was respecting his team. It’s a win-win. Building a business with integrity starts first with you.
Related: 11 blogs to follow to become a better leader
5. They raise the standard
Operating with integrity doesn’t just lift you up, it raises the bar for other businesses within your industry as well. They can’t compete with you if they can’t be as honest as you.
Customers and clients value honesty and trust every bit as much in their business relationships as they do in their personal ones. So look around you. Companies that operate with integrity are often emerging as leaders within their industry, while others strive to catch up. Is that you? If not, why not? It certainly could be.
6. They value their reputation
This doesn’t mean they kowtow to the public in order to maintain an ‘image’, it just means they strive to present themselves in a way that puts their best foot forward. However, they will never put their reputation above honesty and trust, even if that means they might temporarily have to look bad, in order to ultimately look good.
It’s okay to screw up and make mistakes, but character is defined in how you handle them. In the same way, a company’s character and rep are defined by the mistakes it’s inevitable they will make, and how they own up to them.
Integrity in business is a choice. It doesn’t rely on anything other than you, making up your mind to commit to giving your best to your clients or customers. It’s also a constant. You can’t compromise your integrity in small situations, and not expect that same compromise to occur in larger, more important situations.
By the same token, if you commit to making small decisions with integrity, you’ll also use that same integrity and sense of honesty and fair play in the big decisions. Lead with integrity, even if no one else does. Your customers and clients will reward you for it. With that, I’ll leave you with one final quote.
As an entrepreneur, a reputation for integrity is your most valuable commodity. If you try to put something over on someone, it will come back to haunt you.”
— Victor Kiam
Over to You
What does integrity in business look to you? Do you have it? Do you see where you can improve? What about other companies in your industry… can you see integrity in the way they do business? Or is there an opening for you to begin raising the bar?
Freelance Contributor Cori Padgett-Bukowski is a cheeky word wrangler-for-hire, professional blogger, and published fiction author under the pen name C.B. Stone.
You can find her at Big Girl Branding, furiously polishing the words of her clients and sharing her thoughts on entrepreneurship with all and sundry as well as over at Salt, Light, and Faith, digging deep and sharing her thoughts on life.
Elsewhere, you might find her sipping coffee, staring into space, and wool-gathering for her storytelling endeavors.
How Lack of Integrity in Business Affects Workplace Productivity
These are two serious subjects that are usually only talked about when we want to appear deeply philosophical or when someone has already messed up. The commonality between the two is that once you have lost either one, you never get it back.
Lost Trust = Lost Productivity
For the most part, loss of virginity is an individual’s deliberate decision. With integrity things are a little more complicated. Integrity usually implies honesty, and we usually associate trustworthiness with integrity as well. Yet different people handle trust differently.
Some people find it hard to trust any other person, others are too trusting, and most regard others with varying degrees of trust. Trust is usually extended topic, and I have found that a person can be trusted for some things and not others, or by some people and not others.
I am going to focus the rest of this article around trust, as that is the part of integrity that costs your company the most money because it results in the most lost productivity.
Integrity in Business
My hypothesis is that most people do not wake up in the morning planning to do, not do, say, or write something that will cause another person to trust them less.
However, many inadvertently cause trust issues daily without even realizing it. The more you interact with people through e-mail, on the phone and in-person the more chances you have to violate trust. It is a numbers game.
The more interactions you have, the more chances you have to mess up.
C-level executives have to be very careful as their actions, comments, inactions, and silence (together referred to here as “Transactions”) are magnified 10 times compared to the Transactions of staff-level employees. This is one of the prices people pay for deciding to be a leader.Ironically, most leaders are naive in this area. Many are so self-possessed that they believe that being the boss entitles them to not have to watch how they handle their Transactions. The problem with this belief system is that it is wreaks havoc on their businesses.
A company loses productivity every time a Transaction is construed as being inconsistent, untruthful, underhanded, immoral, or illegal. It will be deemed by the other parties as “a breach of integrity.
” Thus, a common way to express that one has experienced an integrity issue is to say, “I do not trust the boss.”
People known to be decisive, impulsive, and quick to act frequently push the integrity button without realizing it. I have a number of well-meaning clients who have partners and subordinates who have just come to expect them to constantly breach integrity.
I want to suggest that it does not have to be this way, that these leaders should try to modify their styles. Sometimes leaders who have a tendency to make statements before thinking things through are actually thinking out loud.
They do not realize that by doing so they appear to be disorganized and inconsistent to their subordinates, and give the appearance of changing their word.
As a result, the employees do not believe they can count on their leaders to keep their word and that directives will be the same week to week, adversely affecting their productivity and motivation.
Lack of Integrity in the Workplace
The following are common trust-busters that I’ve seen in my clients’ companies. We all do these things on occasion. You should be careful to avoid consistently doing any of the following as you can be having a large negative impact on your team members:
- Not keeping your word
- Not giving your word
- Talking behind people’s backs
- Being judgmental
- Being overly critical
- Twisting the truth
- Place personal needs over the company’s best interests
- Blaming others for your own bad decisions
- Being inconsistent
- Not treating someone with respect
- Withholding information
- Assigning multiple people to work on the same project
The Importance of Integrity in Business
Working on building trust within your organization can have dramatic impact on overall performance on a company in many ways. First, workers who trust their managers and co-workers are more ly to put forth extra effort, voluntarily help each other in times of need, make fewer mistakes, have higher job satisfaction, and maximize work output.
CREATING TRUST IN THE WORKPLACE. An executive business coach can help maximize the trust level of your business by identifying current leaks, improving productivity, and increasing your effectiveness as a leader. Learn more about how Activate Group Inc. can help you create a trustworthy and inspiring workplace environment.
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7 Ways to Demonstrate Ethics and Integrity in Your Business – The Thriving Small Business
The success of an organization is built off of the trust of customers, employees and the general public.
According to a Gallup poll, “68% of adults worldwide believed corruption was widespread among businesses in their country…… and 60% of adults in the U.S. responded this way in 2017…..”
The best way to gain that trust is to demonstrate ethics and integrity in business practices.
Not because of legal requirements – but because it is the right thing to do.
A great example is the infamous Enron Collapse and Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme stories. Thousands of employees and investors were impacted. Which resulted in corporate collapse due to unethical behaviors and business practices.Gallup research has shown that millennial-age employees in particular want their careers to coincide with their personal values; they view their jobs as sources of meaning and purpose, rather than just a way to make a living.
The integrity of a business affects all customer groups and every area of business operations. Which is why it is important to incorporate ethics and integrity into the core fabric of the organization.
1. Customer Value Strategy
Ethical standards in business are built off of a customer focus and commitment to providing value to its customers.
When an organization is committed to improving the lives of its customers, it would be when there is a violation of that trust that would cause concern from a strategic perspective.
For instance, the privacy and data sharing scandal, caused mistrust of users. There was deception and users did not have a good understanding of how was using their profile data.
Not something you would prefer if you are committed to providing value to your customers.
2. Accounting Practices
Financial honesty and transparency is a basic expectation of shareholders, customers and employees.
It serves no one when organizations “cook the books” – whether it be intentional or accidental.Careless accounting practices limit an organization’s ability to operate with good financial management.
How can an organization’s budget be accurate when there is not complete transparency in spending?
When an organization markets a product or service, they are obligated to deliver what was promised to the customer. Whether it is a television ad or a print ad in the newspaper, the product described should be what is delivered to the customer.
For instance, we responded to a furniture ad one time and when we went to the department store we discovered they were that particular item and the sales person tried to sell us a similar item that was more expensive.
Needless to say we walked that store. Unfortunately the sting of the “bait-and-switch” experience kept us from visiting that department store again. Not a good way to grow a customer base.
You owe it to your customers to deliver what is promised.
4. Integrity in Management Practices
Management practices are the underlying foundation for organizational integrity.
Whether it is commitment to good customer service or fair employment practices, a businesses’ reputation can be tarnished by unresolved service or product issues.
Additionally, employees observe how leadership resolves issues and follows up on promises made.
For example, SAS ranked number 1 the top 100 employers to work for in 2010.
In addition to a very generous benefit package, and an industry low turnover of merely 2%, the architect of its culture is “trust between our employees and the company” according to Jim Goodnight, SAS CEO.
Influence integrity in managing by creating a code of conduct and ethics policy. Teach employees the importance of its content and the organization’s commitment to ensuring that all employees adhere to the policy.
5. Customer Service Integrity
Service after the sale is what service integrity is all about.
Integrity and Ethics in Business
It is easy to make promises before a sale but following up and ensuring a great customer experience is what makes some organizations stand out.
For example, we built a house a few years ago. The customer experience was over the top – until we closed on the house.Unfortunately it went from one of the best service experiences I’d ever had to one of the worst – after we closed the deal.
Service after the sale is critical to providing a great customer experience and growing a loyal customer base.
6. Personal Integrity
It is important for business leaders to live a lifestyle of honesty, integrity and high ethical standards because what these leaders do can harm the reputation of the organization.
Two former Tyco executives, who have become the poster children for failed ethical leadership, are a good example of this.
Both were sentenced up to 25 years in prison after stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the company.
The scandal sadly generated negative press for Tyco and ultimately affected the company’s value and profitability.
7. Product Integrity
Product integrity is important to those of us who purchase products and services.
This is when public perception and brand recognition come in to play. When we chose our home-builder it was because they were one of the largest in our area.
Unfortunately, our experience with their service after the sale spoke volumes to us about the the product integrity of this builder.
If we would have known the service integrity would have changed so drastically after the sale we would have been a little more diligent at ensuring the language in the contract supported resolution of issues once we closed on the house.
“Trust is the air we breathe — when it’s present, nobody really notices. When it’s absent, everyone notices.” — Warren BuffettOrganizations that operate with integrity do so intentionally and make it part of its everyday practices so that it becomes part of the culture.
This climate of honest and trust helps orient new employees to understand that operating with integrity is simply “the way things are done around here”.
Organizations choose to make integrity an important part of cultural expectations. This focus sends a message to employees and customers that the priority is sustainable success over short-term opportunism.
In what ways does your organization demonstrate integrity and ethics?
What Is Integrity? +7 Reasons Why It’s So Important in Business
If you want to understand the meaning of integrity in business, consider the following scenario.
Just before a major product launch, your head of IT tells you there’s been a minor breach of systems containing customer data. Publicising the incident will ruin your launch and scare off your customers and investors. Besides, you’re pretty sure that no sensitive data actually got into the hackers’ hands. So wouldn’t it be OK just to keep quiet about it, at least for now?
If you act with integrity, people will trust you. (Image source: Envato Elements)
As tempting as it would be to put a lid on the bad news, acting with integrity means being honest about what happened and dealing with the fallout. People trusted you with their personal data, after all, so you've got a responsibility to tell them if there’s even a small chance that it was compromised.
In this example, the right thing to do is quite clear-cut, but that’s not always the case. Whether you run a business or work for someone else, you’ll often run into situations in which it’s very difficult to act with integrity or you’re not even sure what the right course is.
So, in this tutorial we’ll try to bring some clarity to the subject by examining the meaning of integrity in detail with examples of integrity (and lack of integrity) in action. You’ll also learn seven reasons why integrity is important in business, and you’ll get some tips on how to act with integrity in difficult business situations.
What Is Integrity in Business?
Let’s start with a definition of integrity, especially as applied to the business world.
Oxford Dictionaries defines integrity as:
“The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.”
It’s important to note that these moral principles are undefined and vary from person to person. As we saw in our recent article on ethical leadership, people can have different value systems and beliefs.
The key to acting with integrity is to understand what your personal values are and then to be true to those values. It comes down to honesty, which is why the right course of action in the earlier example was to tell the truth about the data breach rather than trying to cover it up.
In that example, acting without integrity would probably have led to a better short-term outcome but created problems further down the road. That trade-off is a common theme of integrity in business, and we’ll come back to it later in this tutorial.
Keep in mind, also, that the dictionary’s second meaning for “integrity” is “the state of being whole and undivided,” as in “territorial integrity.” That concept of wholeness, from the Latin root of “integer” that also gives us words “integrate” and “entirety,” is important.
When you act with integrity, you’re the same person in all scenarios, whether you’re talking to the boss or the janitor. You don’t present different faces or tell different stories to different people. You're whole.
Although acting with integrity is sometimes difficult and can lead to short-term fallout, it's got some important benefits, which we’ll look at next.
7 Reasons Why Integrity Is Important in Business
According to motivational speaker and author Brian Tracy:
“Whenever I hold a strategic planning session, the first value that all the executives agree on is integrity. Leaders know that honesty and integrity are the foundations of leadership. Leaders stand up for what they believe in.”
This is backed up by research from Robert Half Management Resources, which found that both workers and CFOs (Chief Financial Officers) named integrity as the most important attribute in a corporate leader (it was cited by 75% of workers and 46% of CFOs).
But why exactly is integrity so important in business? Here are seven reasons.
1. A Stronger Reputation
In the business world, reputation is everything. Suppliers need to trust you to pay them for the goods they deliver. Investors need to trust you to put their money to good use and deliver a profitable, sustainable business. For employees, customers, business partners and everyone else you have contact with, trust is essential.
If you act with integrity, people will trust you, and word will spread faster than any advertising campaign you could ever come up with. Similarly, a lack of integrity will scupper your reputation.
So acting with integrity will allow you to reap the benefits from better relationships with the people you deal with.
2. Employee Satisfaction
Most people want to do a good job, and they'll be happier working for someone with integrity than for someone who asks them to compromise their own principles.
Research by David J. Prottas at Adelphi University found that employees’ perceptions of their manager’s behavioural integrity were “positively related to job satisfaction, job engagement, health, and life satisfaction.”
So if you want happier, healthier, more engaged employees, acting with integrity is an undervalued but powerful way to achieve that.
Acting with integrity often means producing a better product or service for the customer. For example, let’s say that tests reveal a serious weakness in your flagship product, just when it’s selling hot cakes. You might be tempted to keep on selling it anyway, but that would mean short-changing your customers by providing an inferior product.
A leader with integrity would explain the situation, fix the problem, and ship the product only when it’s of acceptable quality. This is just one example, but in general, acting with integrity is ly to lead to better quality products and services because you’re acting in accordance with your values and principles, and few people really believe in putting out shoddy work.
4. Long-Term Outlook
As we’ve seen, there’s a theme developing in which there’s often a trade-off between short-term wins and long-term success, and behaving with integrity is usually aligned with the long-term outlook.
Whatever business you’re in, you’re often presented with the chance to cut corners and/or avoid problems by behaving dishonestly. Doing the right thing, on the other hand, can lead to more problems initially, but it usually pays off in the end. We’ve seen a few examples of that already.
Business is a long-term endeavour, and successful companies are usually those with a strong long-term outlook and vision. So acting with integrity can help you to focus on getting the best results five years from now instead of five minutes from now.
5. Clearer Focus
As Sir Walter Scott wrote back in 1808:
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!”
Lying and cheating can take up a lot of energy and time. You’re presenting different faces to different people, and you've got to keep track of which story you’ve told and how to keep it all consistent, and then you've got to tell more lies and manufacture more evidence to back up your original lie, and so on.
Acting with integrity, on the other hand, frees up all that energy and lets you focus on what's important instead of spending time covering your tracks.
6. Better Company Culture
If you lead by example and act with integrity, that'll spread throughout the company. We already saw that integrity is good for employee satisfaction, but think about your employees’ performance too.
If you've got a culture of integrity in your company, your employees will make better decisions, with the long-term interests of your customers and the company in mind. They'll be able to trust each other, which will have huge benefits for collaboration and teamwork and will minimise costly disputes.
How do you create such a culture? We’ll look at that in the final section, and you can also check this tutorial:
What Is Ethical Leadership? How to Be a More Ethical Leader
7. Stronger Sales
Ethical considerations are important for many customers these days. In the UK, the Ethical Purchases market was valued at £38 billion in 2015, an 8.5% increase on the prior year, and this was the 13th consecutive year of growth in ethical spending.
Source: Ethical Consumer
It’s a global phenomenon too—according to a 2012 survey, 70% of consumers in Brazil, India and China agreed with the statement: “I often encourage others to buy from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible.”
Many companies have tried to tap into this market with glossy advertising and self-serving “greenwash”. A more effective way is to embed ethical behaviour in your company, truly acting with integrity and spreading that culture throughout your business. Do that, and you'll attract new customers who will in turn spread the word to -minded people.
How to Act With Integrity in Business
Now that we've seen why integrity is important, let's look at how to put it into practice on a personal level, in your team, and across your whole company. Here are six techniques you can use to make sure you're a person of integrity:
1. Define Your Moral Principles
As we saw at the beginning, integrity is about being true to your moral principles. But many of us don’t think about those principles very often or define them very clearly. So the first step is to do that. What’s important to you? What principles do you want to live by? What does integrity mean to you?
For more help on this, see the following posts:
What Are Your Personal Values? How to Define & Live by Them
How to Define Your Core Brand Values (And Why You Should)
2. Look Back With Honesty
OK, so how are you doing? Are you living up to those principles?
If not, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, try to identify patterns. Do you tend to be influenced by stronger personalities? Tempted by easy money? Pressured by your boss? Make a non-judgmental inventory of your own integrity or lack of integrity in business. Consider asking colleagues if you need an objective viewpoint.
We’re looking at some general strategies for behaving with integrity here, but this self-inventory may help you to come up with a personal action plan specific situations in which you know you can do better.
3. Treat Everyone the Same
In business, too many people treat others as instruments for their own gain. They give big customers the red-carpet treatment while scorning those with smaller wallets. They curry favour with the boss while shunning the intern.
But remember that integrity is about wholeness, honesty, and being the same person in all situations. If someone works in your company, they make an important contribution and are worthy of respect, regardless of their pay grade. A customer deserves good treatment, even if they can’t afford the big-ticket items right now.
People remember how you treat them, and they notice how you treat others.
4. Reward Honesty
Behaving with integrity means not just being honest yourself, but also encouraging others to be honest with you. That way, a culture of integrity can spread throughout the organisation, with the benefits we just discussed.
But, if you’re a manager, you need to remember that you've got huge power over the people in your organisation—the power to enhance or damage their careers and livelihoods.
That power may well inhibit people from being honest with you. On top of that, some managers inadvertently discourage honesty.They can be so focused on making the team look good that they intimidate or discourage those who've got bad news to bring.
So if you want people to be honest and behave with integrity, you need to reward that behaviour publicly and repeatedly, until the message sinks in with your employees that it’s safe to be honest with you.
5. Hold Your Hands Up
In business, results are important, and people and companies are often judged by what they deliver. There can be huge pressure to cover up or minimise mistakes and to make the results look better than they are.
But if you want to behave with integrity, you’ll need to resist that pressure. Don’t be afraid to admit to mistakes or missed targets. Explain them clearly and honestly, and for the most part people won't judge you as harshly as you think—in fact, they’ll probably think more of you.
6. Find the Right Balance
Do you remember the movie Liar, Liar? Jim Carrey’s character, a habitual liar, suddenly finds himself forced to tell the truth in every situation. He blurts out painful and embarrassing truths that insult and anger those around him.
Although it’s just a Hollywood comedy, there’s an important business lesson there. Behaving with integrity requires you to be honest, but it doesn’t require you to unleash every private thought and opinion, especially when doing so would hurt other people.
How you deliver the truth is also important. When giving difficult feedback to an employee, be sensitive to how that person will receive it, and try to balance criticism with acknowledgement of the person’s achievements. For more on this, see the following tutorial:
Feedback for Managers: How to Give it, How to Get It
Lisa Jo Rudy
In this tutorial, you’ve learnt about the meaning of integrity and why it’s important. You’ve seen some examples of integrity and lack of integrity in business decision-making, and you’ve learnt how to act with moral integrity in your own business life, while encouraging it in your employees and colleagues.
What’s next? Why not take one of the suggestions in the last section, and put it into practice today? Let us know how it goes by leaving a comment below.