At the moment I am taking a leadership class, Leadership Lewisville. We are learning about the inner workings of the city, and (re)examing our leadership. It is a bit like the tables are turned because I have taught leadership classes myself. This is great! I’m enjoying it.
The conversation came to core values. One of the critical core values I thought of is integrity. It is great to think about the values that drive me every day and become (again) more conscious of them. How do I live them day-to-day?
As for integrity, first off, what is it? What does it mean?
Merriam-Webster defines it as “the quality of being honest and fair.”
What is honest? What is fair?
I could dive into deep philosophical discussions here but I won’t.
Breakdowns of Integrity With Others
From a more practical standpoint though, here’s my experience. When you work with people who do not have good integrity it does not end well. No matter how much you might get paid, sooner or later the experience will be painful.
At one level, that means people with lacking integrity don’t do what they said they would. Or they even steal, bully people, or embark on other unethical behaviors. Of course, there are also smaller “offenses” like being late, rescheduling with little notice when there is no real emergency, etc.
On another level, a “breakdown in integrity” can be a result of misaligned expectations. It is important to set clear expectations up front as best as possible. Sometimes, a situation reminds me that I need to be more clear.
That said, in the real world, it is impossible to always foresee how a project might evolve. Effective and honest communication is key. Trust is the foundation for handling those changes well. And trust requires integrity. Do what you say you would. If something is changing, tell the other person as soon as possible. Come up with a solution as soon as you can.
None of us are perfect, of course. We can – and sometimes need to – cut each other some slack. Give each other grace. The important question is, “Does each person care about integrity and making things work for all parties? Or is the person in it for themselves and doesn’t care about the others?” Any sustainable relationship has to be a win-win. Win-lose never lasts.
To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and many other works)
Breakdowns of Integrity With Yourself
Then, there is another branch of integrity: Integrity with one’s own goals and intentions. That is a trickier area at times, isn’t it? I keep my appointments with clients – of course! But how well am I doing with keeping appointments with myself for doing something I want or need to do? Do I even schedule time slots for these things? If I do, how often do I ignore them or keep shifting them to “later”?
My thought is that when we work with people who have integrity, ideally, people we enjoy being around as well, life is a lot more fun and successful. Saying “no” to the wrong people can be hard. It is a growth area.
Being in integrity with one’s own intentions and goals – self-leadership and self-discipline – is another fertile growth area. Maybe even more fertile than the first one.
How do you feel about integrity relative to others and yourself? Where is your biggest opportunity for growth?