- Integrity = the way you do anything is the way you do everything
- Integrity is a vital trait for successful leaders
- Acting with integrity can reduce a lot of unnecessary stress in your life, making you happier, healthier, and more productive
- Find out what you value, what is right or wrong to you
- Be consistently true to your personal standards
- Act and speak honestly & treat everyone the same (morally)
Do you treat people differently based on their “social status”? Are you doing the right thing even in difficult situations? How often do you lie to others?
Since I’ve a very strong sense for justice and fairness, it’s no surprise that integrity is among my most important values. However, holding true to your own moral standards has plenty of additional benefits.
In today’s article, I want to talk about what integrity actually means, why it’s vital, and how you can achieve a high level of integrity.
What is integrity?
According to Oxford Dictionary, integrity is basically the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
Since this definition is quite vague and unpractical, I want to give you another expression of this term. I love the more vivid definition of Disney CEO, Robert Iger: “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”
Integrity implies applying the same moral standards no matter in which situation you’re, doing the right thing even in difficult situation (e. g. unethical ones), and treat people with respects no matter their status.
Integrity requires that you have a clear sense of knowing who you are, be guided by your own clear sense of right and wrong, speak up for what is right, and make decisions and acts as if your personal reputation was at stake (for instance if you work a company).
People with a great sense of integrity trust in their own instincts, are the same person in all scenarios whether they’re talking to the boss or to the janitor, and don’t present different faces or stories to different people.
Why integrity is crucial
First, displaying a high degree of integrity means that others can trust you. The people with whom you deal know that they can rely on you to act honestly and to do what you say you will do. When people know that you believe in doing the right thing, and that your behavior is consistent with that belief, they trust you.
Trust is one of the key characteristics of a successful leader. Individuals who are successful in business understand the benefits of acting with integrity. You can only be a “good” role model if you’ve a sense of integrity. People only want to follow you if they can trust you.
Additionally, people who believe in and trust you become loyal, i. e., it becomes easier to trust them too. Our world is based on our ability to trust each other. It’s no surprise that more and more employers prefer to hire graduates whom they believe to have high personal integrity (often tested through personality tests). They would rather invest in developing the human capital of someone who will be a positive influence on the organization and on someone whom they can trust to carry out the company’s mission.
Do you trust someone who lies to you on a frequent basis? Do you want to work for a company that has no ethical standards, for instance Nestle, which (has) sourced cacao from suppliers exploiting children as labor? Do you think someone is a great role model for your (future) children if s/he treatS the janitor (morally) worse than his/her business partner?
Finally, having integrity is important because it can offer you peace of mind knowing that you believe in doing the right thing, and always try to act consistently with those beliefs. Acting with integrity can reduce a lot of unnecessary stress in your life, making you happier, healthier, and more productive.
Add more integrity into your life
First of all, you need to find out what you value, what is right or wrong to you. Ask yourself, what’s important to you? What principles do you want to live by? What does integrity mean to you? Further, clarify what are your most important values and prioritize them. I clearly know my values, which are the basis for all my decisions.
Secondly, when you know your personal standards, you need to be true to them consistently.
Thirdly, be honest but don’t exaggerate. You don’t have 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 someone, be sensitive to how that person will receive it, and try to balance criticism with acknowledgement of the person’s achievements.
Finally, treat everyone with the same moral standards. It‘s obvious that you need/want to be more friendly to your employees and customers than to your competitors and strangers. But don’t treat a janitor in your company worse than your boss/peers.