Integrity is the fourth most effective driver of trust, which is amazing when you consider the ethical failures of leadership during this year alone, never mind over the past decade!
Integrity is considered an increasingly important attribute for the modern manager and is seen as a must have for senior leaders. Leaders with integrity have more concern about their character than their achievements. After all, reputation is what others think about you whereas character represents who you really are.
“Integrity is doing the right thing. Even when no one is watching.”
This year alone, we’ve seen serious abuse of integrity, insider trading, false accounting practices, inappropriate behaviour and tax avoidance to name just a few. Most recently, two pharmaceutical companies received record fines for overcharging the NHS by 2600%.1 This begs the question: if you cannot count on a leader to conduct themselves consistently with high ethical standards and with honesty, how can you trust them?
It appears integrity is a potential blind spot for many people and whether this occurs from over-confidence or arrogance, many senior leaders really need to get back to basics and consider what is at the heart of integrity.
For many, this can be challenging as integrity has many definitions and can vary between cultures. There is also the issue of having the ability to rationalise behaviours2 as most of us are presented with integrity-based choices every day. However it doesn’t have to be that complicated and for most of us, we can build our integrity by remembering these five simple points3:
- Consistency – in our words and actions
- Morality – expecting high standards of behaviours from ourselves
- Trustworthy – taking responsibility for our own feelings and actions
- Honesty – speaking the truth
- Authenticity – being genuine and sincere
A really simple way of testing integrity is to ask yourself: would your actions or behaviours meet the approval of someone that you want to gain the approval of? If not, why would you continue with this behaviour or action if it will cause concern or disapproval?