Every once in a while, we’ll see a company get caught up in an ethical scandal. In recent years, regulators have been looking closely for such slip-ups and, while it can certainly be argued that some of the treatment is unfair and overreaching, some organizations have been caught red-handed. When this sort of things happens, we sometimes see the leadership laying the blame on lower level workers. What we rarely see is the leaders in an organization taking the blame for what goes on in their own organizations.
It is true that some employees go against the ethical standards of their leaders, and it actually isn’t the leaders’ fault when they get into trouble. More often than not, though, I think that issues of integrity lay squarely at the feed of the organization’s leadership. Integrity nearly always starts at the top and funnels downward through the organization. If we as leaders in our organizations do not have high standards of integrity, then chances are our people won’t either.
What does integrity mean? When you think about it, it’s all about consistency. The actual root of the word has to do with being “integrated,” and it really boils down to holding yourself to the same standard all the time. Integrity is when your beliefs, words, and actions are in alignment. Whether you realize it or not, your people are looking to you to set the pace for what integrity looks like in your organization. What kind of example are you setting for your people with the integrity that you hold?