“Do what is right; let the consequences follow.”
But what does a person acting with integrity look like? Positive examples may be harder to find. Anderson, who lectures on entrepreneurship at the University of Utah, believes “there aren’t enough of us saying that sometimes it’s better to lose than to lose your integrity.” A plaque in Anderson’s office reinforces her philosophy: “Do what is right; let the consequences follow.”
As for building your integrity and modeling it for others, Simons, Peterson and Anderson offer these suggestions:
To your staff, your investors, everyone. If you break a promise, you must apologize, but don’t let this become a pattern.
Doing so affects you professionally and personally (practicing your faith, staying fit, being present for family, etc.).
“Stop and soberly reflect on whether you are 100 percent sure you can deliver,” says Simons. “You need to be dispassionate in that evaluation.”
No one can say yes to everything and follow through on it all.
As well as how you make longer-term commitments (e.g., attending events, completing projects, etc.). Use this introspection to become self-aware, keep score and improve. (You can also use this behavioral yardstick for determining whether others act with integrity.)
Reread that email or report before you send it; plan what you’ll say in oral presentations and phone calls. “Fuzzy communication leads to broken promises,” says Simons. Ask someone to proofread written communications and point out ambiguities before you distribute them.
You might need to stop certain actions (e.g., speaking impulsively or sugarcoating your responses). And you might need to improve on others: building your personal courage (because fear holds you back from acting with integrity—Peterson’s CFO might have been fired without others showing courage). Issue apologies “faster, simpler and aimed more at containing the damage [you may have done] than at justifying yourself,” says Simons.
Peterson advises to take great care with the language you use, especially when dealing with sensitive issues such as sexual preference, racism and religion.
“Do not do business with them,” Anderson writes in a blog post. “Do not associate with them. Do not make excuses for them. It’s important to realize that others pay attention to those you have chosen to associate with, and they will inevitably judge your character by the character of your friends.”
9. Gauging Your Integrity
Do you act with integrity? You can make an accurate assessment by asking yourself these six questions devised by Don Phin, a lawyer, author and vice president of Strategic Business Solutions at the compliance and training solutions company ThinkHR.
- Am I willing to say what I’m thinking?
- Am I willing to risk being wrong?
- Do I want my child or someone else I love to do that? If not, then why am I doing it?
- Does this conduct make me a better person?
- Am I Ieading by example?
- Am I taking 100 percent responsibility?
“Talk to the people around you” to get a handle on your integrity, recommends Tony Simons, author of The Integrity Dividend: Leading by the Power of Your Word. “Find ways to get honest feedback from others. You need to find out if—and that goes double if you’re a boss—you have the appropriate level of trust. Integrity stands as a driver of trust.” Anderson advises that you “let those around you call you out…. Be willing to have people police you. Your trusted advisers [should be] people who will tell you whether you’re acting with integrity or whether there’s a better way to handle something.”
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on success.com and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.