Integrity starts at the top. And “do as I say, not as I do” does not cut it. Employees watch the boss and the behavior she exhibits. If she does something that is not in line with the organizational definition of integrity, guess what will happen. Some will say, “if she can do that, then why can’t I?” and then they will exhibit behaviors like that, slowly eroding the culture. Others may decide they do not want to work for a company where a leader exhibits such behavior and they will leave, or worse, they will stay and be disenchanted and become less and less engaged. They will turn a blind eye when others act inappropriately, and again, things will fall apart.
Integrity counts. And not just when someone is watching. Integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is watching and nobody will find out. It’s speaking up when everyone else is silent. Not every company claims integrity as a core value, because in many cases it just goes without saying. But, it is a necessity for every corporate culture to maintain unity, employee engagement, collaboration and a sense of organizational pride. Integrity is critical to every brand. Nobody wants to do business with a company known to fudge their results or to take shortcuts in building or developing their products and delivering their services.
Unfortunately, integrity is far from universal in our world. We read about bribes, kickbacks, food product and drug recalls, autos being sold knowingly with defective parts. Who wants to be in a headline for one of those reasons? Who wants to live with themselves having done that? Integrity starts at the top and should be part of every employee. Yes, folks will still have to go to confession for things they do in their personal lives, but there should be no reason to confess for breaches of integrity at work. Integrity does matter to a company. Does it matter to yours?