Integrity: Doing the Right Thing Matters!

Lewis says, “Integrity is doing the right thing. Even when no one is watching”. An analogous quote by Oprah Winfrey states, “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” In other words, the way I see it – integrity is where our beliefs, words and actions intersect. It is not something that can be faked or disingenuously exhibited in pursuit of accolades or praise from others.

The most succinct way I can describe integrity is that it is equivalent to breathing life into our morals and values. What I know for sure is the act of exemplifying integrity in our lives on a daily basis is a choice. I often say, the choices people make, good or bad, can impact the entire trajectory of their life. Having integrity does not mean a person is perfect by any means. It just shows that some people are more conscientious in making morally sound decisions than others. How wonderful it would be if more people would exercise more selfless choices.

Doing the Right Thing

Over the majority of my career, I have worked in two areas that have the greatest influence on the success or failure of a business, i.e., financial and human resources. Consequently, during my tenure, I have arbitrated numerous cases in which integrity had come into question. While presiding over each case, I always kept the words of wisdom at the forefront of my mind which an esteemed colleague said to me years ago while teaching a workshop on the principles of ethics and integrity. He said, “When it comes to integrity in the workplace, there is no such thing as a bad person. There are only good people who are put in bad situations”.

Depending on your belief system, I guess there could be some truth in that statement. However, I would be hard pressed to agree with this sentiment in its entirety given my belief system about integrity which is, ‘doing the right thing even when no one is watching’. In this statement, there is no judgment of good or bad about the individual. I simply believe a person of integrity who is put in a bad situation will in all likelihood choose to do the right thing. Of course, having integrity does not mean there is no room for error or that a person of integrity is always picture-perfect in every word, thought or deed. However, whether it is at work or play, a person of integrity will most certainly hold true to this value regardless of the situation.

In my profession, my goal is to always be very intentional in leading others by example. When training my staff, I teach them to take pride in their work and to execute their duties as if their every move and decision is subject to audit. This strategy is not intended to intimidate. As a matter of fact, I truly believe that an effective leader leads through motivation, not through intimidation. So, as a leader, I utilize my experience and values to motivate others to do the right thing at all times even if no one is watching. This goes a long way in your career as well as your personal life.