How to gain a reputation for honesty and integrity

Integrity has been defined as 'honesty, soundness, uprightness, true to self or stated values, beliefs, or ethics'. Success will come when employees and customers respect an organisation for its integrity and that integrity will be reflected in its leadership and management. Image is what people think we are; integrity is what we really are. Indecision over matters of ethics can be fatal for individuals and organisations. The following considerations will help clarify your thinking...

1. Develop moral courage.

With moral courage, you will be capable of standing up for what you know to be right, doing the right thing regardless of the consequences, and accepting the blame when you are in the wrong. You will be respected by all if you have strong moral courage. Indeed, it is the very foundation on which integrity rests.

2. Practise truthfulness and honesty at all times.

Unless you are honest, you cannot be relied on at all. If you get caught out by your staff or colleagues misrepresenting the facts or covering up a problem, you will lose credibility instantly. Credibility is never easy to repair or regain.

Guard against white lies, too: they often are the crack in the dam wall. Of course, this doesn't mean you should insult or hurt a person by telling the truth - if you can say nothing good about a person, it's best to say nothing at all.

3. Take a stand for what you believe is morally right.

Never compromise your high moral standards; never prostitute your principles. Have the courage of your convictions, for your stance in a situation where a tough decision is required can point the way for an entire group. General Norman Schwarzkopf talks about leadership and his Rule 14: ‘Do what's right.'

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