I vividly remember many of my childhood days. One of these is a moment where my younger brother and I would share a bar of chocolate. More specifically, it was of Diary Milk brand. After I break it into two pieces, and one of the pieces ended up being a bigger one, I would instinctively make sure both the halves were of equal in size. I could have taken the bigger one but somehow it never felt right. This is my earliest memory of integrity at play. With everything that life has thrown at me since then, I’ve derived some key principles for my life, which I diligently follow. One of them is to strive and do the right thing no matter how difficult it might be.
I am reminded of a case that showed how important integrity is to a company’s success and how companies suffer when its leaders show lack of it. This year, the group CEO of Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn and four others stood trial in a scam that involved cheating customers about the car’s diesel emission. A lapse in judgment by the leaders cost the company its reputation, so painstakingly built over decades. I am not sure if any juniors from the company would ever look up to them as role models ever.
A curious thing about integrity is that it is an all-or-nothing scenario. You can never have exceptions to integrity, however trivial they may look otherwise. It is always a choice between black and white, right and wrong, there being no grey area ever. Leaders, especially, are expected to exhibit highest standards of integrity at all times. Politics, Business, Social sectors, Philanthropy, Art, Literature are fields where everyone, especially leaders, have to exhibit high standards of integrity.
Does integrity play such a major role?
Indeed. For centuries, people the world over, have strived to be known for their integrity. Honesty, transparency, ethical behavior, keeping your word and your promises, respecting others and putting others first are some traits of people of integrity. No wonder, such people are quickly picked up for leadership roles. These people display some common attributes-
- They uphold highest standards of honesty in their personal and professional lives. Such a leader will always desist from lying, giving false testimony, does not drop names and never takes favors. They will also give honest and constructive feedback to anyone who seeks it.
- They work well in teams by taking the blame if something goes wrong and sharing the credit when they are successful. They also acknowledge any small help that they may have taken in their endeavors with utmost gratitude. So you always find men of integrity never resorting to plagiarism or moral turpitude. This earns them immense credibility and respect from everyone.
- Men of integrity keep personal matters separate from professional ones. Not using company time, resources or contacts for personal reasons, not asking or giving favors, not shielding or protecting someone, even a close colleague or confidante, who has committed mistake are normal matters for them.
- They can keep secrets very well and never divulge any confidential matters, even to family members or friends. They respect a person’s privacy and strictly adhere to confidentiality. They draw lines and stick to them when it comes to personal and professional matters and never allow the two to overlap.
- Such people are always balanced in their outlook. They are open for suggestions and delegate work skillfully. They are confident about their own capabilities and are not insecure about someone else stealing credit.
You may have observed some more characteristics of men of integrity, but the bottom-line is that integrity always pays, if not immediately, eventually.
What are the benefits of being a person of integrity?
- Honest and unbiased people are picked up for leadership roles
- People trust them with secrets and seek advice
- Being honest allows the benefit of never having to remember what you told whom
- Not just your own people, but even competitors respect and trust your opinion and judgment.
- They make for better leaders because they are selfless and are self driven about their purpose in life.
- Unwavering ethics and a deep sense of morals enables a person to lead a life without grief, guilt, anguish, malice and animosity which are generally the underlying causes of many bodily ailments like heart problems, hypertension, diabetes, etc.
- Not just colleague and seniors but your investors, customers, suppliers and just about all stakeholders respect you to the hilt. That saves you from any acts of sabotage or backstabbing which is not rare in business and life.
- Such people may anger others in the short term, but in the long term, people know that this person was, in fact, right and fair.
Honesty, transparency, ethical standards, morality are not just fancy words or some rare traits. Most great leaders of the world have time and again, exhibited them to great effect. Taking a leaf out of their lives, companies, organizations and establishments have always valued people of integrity. Several companies have embedded ethical and honest behavior in their official documents like Vision Mission statements, standing orders, objectives, code of conduct (with zero tolerance being the cornerstone), Standard Operating Procedures, Audit mechanisms, whistleblower policies and the like so that future employees know that there will be no tolerance for any exception to these set standards. Any deviation doesn’t go unnoticed and deviant people are soon sidelined from the professional world.
Do you know of people who have carved a name for themselves due to their integrity? Do share your experiences with us in the comments section.
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