We do business and socialize with people that we know, like and trust. It’s that simple. We do not associate with someone that we fear, or who we know is dishonest. That is why integrity is important in both our personal and professional lives.
Integrity goes to the core of our values, of who we are. People see and experience your integrity through your words and your actions. Are you reliable? Do you say one thing and do another? Or are you the person that is trustworthy and sincere?
Integrity is a conscious choice that you make every day in every situation. It is about being the same person, delivering the same results regardless of the circumstances.
Snake Oil Salesman or Square Shooter
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Albert Einstein
We have all experienced the person who has over-promised and under-delivered. Think about that situation. It likely cost you time and money and left a bad taste in your mouth for future transactions. When you are the seller, encourage questions and give honest answers. If the answer is “I don’t know,” it’s OK to say that (quickly followed by “I will find out.) When you are the buyer, give the salesperson all of the information needed to make the best recommendation for you.
When you are interviewing future team members, paint a realistic picture of the culture as well as the responsibilities of the job. Remember, they are interviewing you as well. If you present the environment falsely don’t be surprised when someone quits after a few days. Building a loyal team starts with your leadership. The manager who flouts policies and procedures should have no expectations that anyone else will follow them. Or remain with the company.
There are times when having integrity means saying No and choosing to do what is right over what is convenient or popular. It means actually practicing your values, not merely professing them.
Friend or Foe
We are often challenged to demonstrate integrity with people that we know well. My family and close friends espouse a variety of political beliefs. We make a point of honoring each opinion without fighting to prove who is right and who is wrong. We don’t pretend to share beliefs that we truly do not have in common. Having integrity means that we accept each other without asking someone to compromise.
I rely on business partners to refer business to me, and I refer clients to them. These relationships work because we share core values and I know that these people will treat my referrals with integrity.
Think about someone you trust implicitly. Then ask why you have such faith in that person. The next question is to ask is if you are as trustworthy as that person. Integrity takes a lifetime to build. Regrettably, it can be destroyed in minutes. Remaining true to yourself and your values may seem difficult in the moment, but it is worthwhile in the long run.
Integrity matters in the delivery of your services and products as well. Consistent quality and providing true value are the hallmarks of a successful business with loyal, returning customers.
I was recently on an overseas flight without a functional entertainment/power unit. Not the end of the world, certainly. The crew made an attempt to fix the situation for the 30 passengers affected and promised us renumeration for the inconvenience. That promise was not kept. My loyalty to that airline no longer exists, not because I couldn’t charge my phone, because they did not deliver on their promise. There are several other options, particularly for what was an expensive flight. Will one lost passenger make a difference to that airline? Probably not. Will 30 passengers per flight who had a negative experience make some noise, leave bad reviews and choose a different carrier have an impact? Probably. The point is, I was made to feel unimportant, that delivering what was promised was not a value this airline espouses.
Over time, people will not remember your words, your success, or your failures. What they will remember is the way that you treated them and how you made them feel. That is why Integrity Matters.
Author: Sandy Merritt, Business Coach in Louisville, KY