Most of us think we know what integrity means. Many of us assume we possess it. But true integrity is something that must be worked at. Integrity means demonstrating sound moral and ethical principles at all times. In other words, integrity is about doing the right thing even when it’s not acknowledged, or when it’s not convenient.
In the workplace, integrity is the foundation upon which coworkers can build trust and healthy interpersonal relationships. People who demonstrate integrity attract others to them because they’re trustworthy and dependable. They’re principled and you know you can count on them to behave in honorable ways – even when no one is watching.
The good news about integrity is that we’re not born with or without it: it’s a behavior-based virtue that we can cultivate over time. We can set a goal to show more integrity in everyday life, and we can reach that goal by practicing the five behaviors listed below.
Take the time to value other people’s time.
If you value your own time, always be aware that other people value their own time as well. Time is a precious commodity for everyone; by respecting other people’s needs and schedules – by simply getting to meetings and appointments on time, for example – you’ll be rewarded with the respect of those around you.
Always give credit where credit is due.
People with true integrity don’t need to shine the spotlight on themselves. Just because you played a part in making a project succeed doesn’t mean you should call attention to yourself. Instead, make an effort to highlight the contributions of others and give them credit whenever possible. Selflessness will win you the admiration of your colleagues far more than any list of your achievements.
Never take advantage of the weakness of others.
Taking advantage of someone else to improve your own situation is the polar opposite of integrity. Building others up and helping them reach their goals should be your goal too. People with integrity believe in their own capabilities and never feel the need to use others to advance their own agendas.
Give other people the benefit of the doubt.
One of the noblest behaviors you can engage in is to give someone the benefit of the doubt before rushing to judgment. If we could all learn to give people the benefit of the doubt – whether in an argument, about a job not completed, or in response to negative feedback – we’d have less stress in our daily lives.
Volunteer: with your time, your money, your energy.
As a society, we need to volunteer more. While many people make volunteering a built-in part of their lives, whether through work-affiliated initiatives or through personal activities such as food pantries, animal shelters, or non-profit operations, there’s still so much that needs to be done. You can show your integrity by volunteering for a one-day stint here or there, but greater integrity is shown by those who commit to ongoing volunteer positions that require a real sacrifice of time. So bravo to all the parents who coach their children’s sports teams, but here’s a standing ovation for those volunteers who provide continuing service to their larger community or to underprivileged strangers. Now that’s integrity.