Integrity is almost a buzz word. I say almost because it’s really hard to fake. We can’t just throw around claims of integrity because everyone knows when it’s missing. We have fine-tuned “low integrity” detectors and though we don’t hear a shrill alarm or that annoying chirp signaling a weak battery, we tend to respond with degrading trust and waning respect.
Having integrity is about being trustworthy and honest, especially when no one will know the difference. Integrity is proven over a period of time and lost in an instant. In the business world, people with low integrity create unpredictability with broken promises, reversed decisions, and forgotten principles. Wait, before you forward this to someone who “needs a word” on integrity, remember, we can do little about other’s integrity. Let’s focus on our own. When we struggle with personal integrity, we are:
- Tempted: because no one else is watching. Have you ever known the shame of wiping crumbs from your face and blowing out your keyboard to hide the evidence of a stolen cookie? No one else is the wiser, but you are! Eventually, the efforts of stretching beyond our own core values or promises consumes self-respect and confidence.
- Trapped: because we think we can get away with it. Back to my silly cookie example… What’s wrong with simply stopping by your co-worker’s desk with, “These are my favorite! May I have a cookie?” Nothing, unless you made a personal agreement NOT to eat cookies. No one is the wiser, but that’s the trap. You made the promise for a reason and consequences will follow regardless of who knows. In this case, unneeded fuel, sugar rush, guilt, and (the dreaded) sugar headache.
- Trifling: because we want to renegotiate the details. Again, back to the cookies. “Oh, I said no cookies, but I wasn’t specifically referring to my favorite cookie,” or “I’ll restart tomorrow because the printer is jammed again,” or “My boss is on a warpath, I deserve one!” Details are details. Set ‘em and stick to ‘em. You may have to write them down and put them on your computer monitor…
MOST IMPORTANTLY, what’s behind the cheat? What is it behind the stolen cookie, the white lie, the sneaking around, the misrepresenting? Pride? Laziness? Selfishness? Cookies are a silly example and I beg you to come up with your own personal examples. When does your “low integrity” detector go off? Where are you tempted, trapped, trifling and most importantly, why?
* By the way, I think Merriam-Webster should update their dictionary with the word integrous: having or characterized by integrity. What do you think?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 21 years.