by Bob Czimbal and Michele Brooks
success depends on the integrity of its employees. We have all witnessed
the severe problems that result in the personal, professional and
political arena, when anyone, at any level, acts without
integrity. When an organizationís reputation is damaged, there ensues a
tragic loss of both customers and good employees. Organizations of all
types are now taking a proactive approach to preventing problems by
offering trainings about ethics and integrity.
We found that
clients seemed confused about the differences between ethics and
integrity. After reviewing the literature on these terms, we have
defined ethics and integrity in a way people can understand and
Ethics + Integrity = Alignment
(Inside & Out)
external system of rules and laws. Usually there are rewards when
we follow the rules and punishments when we break them. A professional
board or committee often monitors compliance. Many organizations have
developed a code of ethics that employees are expected to obey.
internal system of principles which guides our behavior. The
rewards are intrinsic. Integrity is a choice rather than an obligation.
Even though influenced by upbringing and exposure, integrity cannot be
forced by outside sources. Integrity conveys a sense of wholeness and
strength. When we are acting with integrity we do what is right - even
when no one is watching.
People of integrity
are guided by a set of core principles that empowers them to behave
consistently to high standards. The core principles of integrity are
virtues, such as: compassion, dependability, generosity,
honesty, kindness, loyalty, maturity, objectivity, respect, trust and
wisdom. Virtues are the valuable personal and professional assets
employees develop and bring to work each day.
The sum of all
virtues equals integrity.
There is a dynamic
relationship between integrity and ethics, where each strengthens, or
reinforces, the other. Personal integrity is the foundation for ethics
- good business ethics encourages integrity. A person who has worked
hard to develop a high standard of integrity will likely transfer these
principles to their professional life. Possessing a high degree of
integrity, a personís words and deeds will be in alignment with the
ethical standards of the organization.
thing to do is not always the easy thing.
It can be
challenging for organizations to establish and then comply with their
own ethical standards. Whether ethics are defined or not, employees at
all levels experience pressures to act against ethical standards and
counter to their own integrity. Some say one thing and then, in the
heat of battle, do another. It takes awareness and courage to act in
that moment; to hold out for a choice that is in alignment with the
stated ethics of the organization and the integrity of those involved.
Integrity is what
provides the inspiration to convert awareness into action. The
good news: There is intrinsic satisfaction in accessing courage
at times when our integrity is tested.
To be strong
we must know our weaknesses.
We have created
three tools for developing integrity. We find that there are traits to
learn that either encourage or discourage integrity, questions to ask
oneself when issues of integrity arise, and clear signs that indicate
when one has developed integrity. Following are some samples of each
and Discouraging Integrity
Just as there are
risk factors for oneís health, there are factors that discourage or
encourage integrity. A person lacking self-esteem, friendships, and
financial stability, has a higher than normal likelihood of acting
without integrity. A person with high self-esteem, a strong support
system and a balanced life will most likely act with integrity.
2. Questions of
Our integrity is
always being tested. During these challenging times, if we have the
courage to ask the right question we will often know the right answer.
Here is a sample list of questions to guide one in the right direction:
Do I believe this
is the right course of action?
Am I being just,
fair and considerate?
Would I want others
to act the same way?
Is there someone I
could talk to who would help me enlarge my perspective?
Is this the right
Time, Intention, Person, Place and Style? (T.I.P.P.S.)
Could I make an
adjustment that would prevent or alleviate harm?
How will I feel
about myself afterwards?
Just as there are
signs of good health, like blood pressure, fitness and nutrition, there
are indicators of integrity:
needs with the needs of others
understanding and compassion
Seeks the advice of
Respectful of views
that are different
Acts with integrity
even when it is inconvenient
difference between humor and hostility.
Think of how a
sturdy rope is constructed - shorter fibers interwoven with longer, all
braided together with great care. The Abundance Company sees integrity
as the effective interweaving of virtues into reliability and honesty.
When ethical companies support their employees in developing integrity,
they become even more productive.
Which Ethics &
Integrity issue is your organization facing? In closing, we hope you
find our definition and tools to be helpful. We welcome your feedback.
Bob Czimbal and
Michele Brooks are directors, coaches and seminar leaders for The
Abundance Company. This article is an excerpt from
Skills for Success.
Skills for Success Seminars
Personal Skills for Professional Excellence