Monday 19th March 08:01

Personal Effectiveness: Integrity

integrity_142Integrity is not always an easy concept to define. Its root etymology suggests that it means being "one" or whole: what you say being in line with what you do, and this being in line with who you are. Integrity includes honesty but goes beyond it. Honesty means telling the truth in your words; integrity means telling the truth in your heart.

Integrity is NOT...
• arguing for good communications and going missing all afternoon without telling anyone where you are
• sending others on courses and not attending yourself
• preaching equal opportunities and blocking the progress of minority groups
• talking about innovation and turning down new ideas flat
• saying customers come first and leaving the phone ringing
• restraining your team's pay increase but rewarding yourself hugely.

Integrity is...
• being whole not fractional
• taking everything (and everyone) as a whole, not dividing it as mine and yours (my work-your work; my idea-your idea; my things-your things)
• the avoidance of deception and expediency
• being the same person to everyone
• adherence to one's convictions
• maintaining values steadfastly and focusing on what you believe is right.

Integrity: "The New Emperor"

We use the following story on our training courses to convey the meaning of integrity.

An ageing emperor in the East decided on a novel way to choose his successor. He called the city's youths to his palace. Handing out some special seeds, he told them, "Go and plant these seeds. In a year's time, I will judge your plants and choose the new emperor."

One boy named Ling took his pot home and planted the seed. Every day he watered it but nothing grew. Even though his friends at school were talking about their growing plants, Ling only had an empty pot.

When the day came to return to the palace, Ling went with a frightened heart. The emperor appeared. All the other youths had magnificent plants. When the emperor saw Ling's plant, he summoned him to the front and announced to the crowd, "Behold your new emperor! He has courage and integrity for all the seeds I gave you were boiled and useless. He was the only one not to cheat. He will be a wise ruler over you all."

The "Do You Have Integrity?" Questionnaire

Like so much in personal effectiveness, Integrity is a mental attitude that translates into physical action. Here are 10 questions that will help you assess your current IntQ, or Integrity Quotient.

1. What do you understand by the word, "integrity"?

2. If you had to carry a reminder of the meaning of integrity in your wallet, what would it say?

3. What qualities does a person with integrity have?

4. What 3 do's and what 3 don'ts would be in your personal moral code at work?

5. Which of the following display lack of integrity?
i. making promises you don't intend to keep Yes/No
ii. telling lies to make yourself look good Yes/No
iii. exaggerating your employment qualifications on your cv Yes/No
iv. handing in an assignment as your own work that you'd taken from the Internet Yes/No
v. covering up something small but illegal Yes/No
vi. blaming someone else for poor work Yes/No
vii. fiddling your expenses Yes/No
viii. taking something that's not yours Yes/No
ix. cheating on your partner by having an affair at work Yes/No
x. falsifying a time sheet Yes/No

6. How important for you is fame, wealth, and power compared to honesty, truth, and sincerity?

7. What are your deepest core values?

8. Give examples of fallen business and political leaders who lied, cheated, and blamed others for their own failings.

9. What are the dangers of behaving more morally than others around you?

10. It's said that people with integrity have humility, high self-esteem, high self-confidence. Rate yourself on each of these.

Integrity: One Tip and One Quote

To end this feature on integrity, here is one tip and one quote. The tip is, "When you are facing a choice about something that might be expedient but morally wrong, ask yourself: what would this look like on the front page of the newspapers?" The quote comes from American writer, Robert Brault: "You do not wake up one morning a bad person. It happens by a thousand tiny surrenders of self-respect to self-interest."

Related Resources
Integrity is a key component of authentic leadership. For a full list of Leadership training products on this site click here.