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It’s All About Integrity

Oct 5, 2011
By Dennis Clemmer

Categories: Leadership & Organizational Development

It’s All About Integrity

October 5, 2011

It’s All About Integrity by Dennis Clemmer

Had a chance meeting with a friend recently at a social gathering, and as we were about to part he stated, “Great seeing you.  Let’s do lunch sometime.  I’ll give you a call.”

Sad to say but I doubt that I will get this call for lunch.  How do I know?  It’s happened before and the guy’s track record for following through on this type of thing isn’t good.  Not a big deal, right?  Wrong!!

I got to thinking about this type of behavior recently when Roger North circulated a presentation that one of his clients attended.  The presentation was on the Ontological Model of Leadership (I know, pretty scary sounding) with one of the elements of the model being “integrity.”  The speaker was reported to have joked, “Eighty percent of firms have ‘integrity’ as a core value, but 100 percent of firms don’t know what it means and thus don’t have ‘true’ integrity.”

So what is “true integrity” and how does this relate to my friend from whom I won’t get a lunch invite?  According to this model, integrity simply is honoring your word.  That sounds doable.  But how many of us actually practice it?

Yesterday I emailed my wife asking her if she was interested in taking a walk after she got home from work and she replied, “Yes”.  In the meantime I got to working on some projects around the house and recognized I was not going to have much energy to walk and emailed her stating that plans had changed.  Unfortunately she left work before the email arrived and was disappointed when she got home and learned that our walk was off.

I could easily rationalize that the projects I completed were important and therefore my decision to not walk was justified.  But did I know when I began to work on these projects that I would likely have to cancel the walk?  Absolutely!  So I made a decision that doing the projects really was more important than taking a walk with Fern.

So what are the lessons to be learned from this?  I will suggest several:

  • One should only make statements of intention when there is a commitment to making that intention happen.
  • We have endless capacity as human beings for rationalization and justification when we don’t make something happen.  Be aware of that temptation.
  • Failure to make something happen can occur through no fault of our own.  When that occurs it should be communicated as soon as possible to those who are impacted.
  • Statements of intention, when not acted upon, can lead to an erosion of trust.

It is all about integrity!

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