Out the mouth of our Head of Finances and Co-founder: Alan Borain
Integrity is a small word with so much power and significant implications. Why is it that a concept so simple, so well defined, so universally understood and accepted – is not carried out and lived by all? We all know the key attributes: honesty, trust, honour and truthfulness. So why don’t we talk about it more?
It’s not a new concept either. In the words of Roman Emperor and Philosopher – Marcus Aurelius – “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
And in the modern day, it has no less relevance. As Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling puts it: “Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”
The truth is, it may have come naturally to Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, but always doing the right thing – when nobody is watching – is extremely difficult for the rest of us mortals.
Integrity is pervasive, it impacts every interaction and relationship we have. Consider the relationship between consumers and brands. A brand’s integrity takes significant time, effort and resource to build. It relies not only on the advertising and promotional messages but the way the product or service upholds its promises to the consumer. Break these promises and integrity can be lost in moments and the impact on sales could be catastrophic.
The sad truth is that there are many highly successful companies and individuals who sacrifice integrity for success. The end justifies the means. Or, the compromising of integrity is validated by the outcome. A prime example is the many scandals surrounding big corporations – all justified in the name of profit.
Goldman Sachs and Steinhoff spring to mind. Also consider the numerous international celebrities and politicians who have fallen unceremoniously from grace. These reputations took years to build up and, in an era of instant social media, only seconds to breakdown.
Instant gratification is very often achieved through dishonesty. Will it last? The evidence suggests not.
When hiring staff, integrity must be a fundamental value of a would-be candidate. As Warren Buffett put it: “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”
Nothing builds connectivity in the workplace better than trust and honesty. Staff members who possess integrity tend to attract co-workers to themselves because they are trustworthy and dependable. The net result creates teams that have similar values at their core. These values in turn spill over to customers and stakeholders.
Ultimately, integrity starts from within, so here are few ideas that may help to guide you:
- Make better choices
- Develop positive habits
- Keep your promises
- Be grateful and give back
In the business world, we are all faced with integrity-based choices on a regular basis. Do we tell our clients that we made a mistake or do we tweak facts to suit our position? Do we make promises we do not keep? Not if you want to be in business for very long.
Business owners should lead by example. If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you make a promise, keep it. If you mess up, own up to it.
And if you are an employee, realise that you are part of something bigger than yourself and that you have a duty to carry out your job duties with the best interest of your employer and clients in mind.
Remember, integrity should be the basic building blocks for doing business.