Integrity is…

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What is integrity? I’ve thought long and hard about this question over the last few weeks, and read and researched many definitions. I’ve now made my own decision and here it is: integrity is when what you say and what you do matches. Integrity is the opposite of hypocrisy.

There it is! It’s not much, yet it’s so much, and it’s just an everyday person’s opinion.

According to Google, integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”, as quoted from Wikipedia:

“Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to uphold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards.”

This first definition is what I don’t agree with completely. I feel that this is the definition of character not of integrity.

Someone could have one moral view that is not the same as another’s view, yet both could have integrity—their deeds match their words—even if their moral “truth” differs.

I tend to agree with Wikipedia’s second definition of integrity:

“In ethics, integrity is regarded by many people as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. Integrity can stand in opposition to hypocrisy, in that judging with the standards of integrity involves regarding internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding within themselves apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs.”

This may not seem to be practical strategic advice for your business, however somehow I felt it mattered.

How you show integrity in business, or at work, matters just as much as how you execute a well-thought-out business plan. Both require thought, word and deed, and both become defining traits of their subject.

Here is a link to a white paper on the subject of integrity in C-level executives. This may encourage you to think about integrity and how necessary it is in business.

The Irony of Integrity – A Study of the Character Strengths of Leaders by William A. Gentry, Kristin L. Cullen, and David G. Altman

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