Integrity vs. Morality in Business
At first glance, you may be tempted to see integrity and morality as nearly interchangeable.
In fact, in common speech the two are often treated as such.
At Arch Technology Solutions, we believe in something different.
Integrity is not simply a rationale. Integrity cannot be debated. Integrity is not influenced by culture or by feelings.
Much like the structural integrity of a building, the integrity that governs our actions is non-negotiable. A building either has integrity or it does not – there are no “degrees” or “stages” of structural integrity. The building is either sound, whole, and performing its intended function or it is not.
Another example of this is a tire. When the tire is puncture-free it is whole and complete and serving its purpose. However, one puncture, no matter how small compromises its integrity and completely eliminates its ability to perform its intended function.
Within Arch Technology Solutions, we look at integrity as workability – which is much like structural integrity.
Are we, as a team and as individual players, operating in a way that is whole and complete? There is no such thing as 99 percent integrity…it either has integrity or it does not.
Integrity in Business
As you might expect, integrity in business means keeping your word. However, that definition has become diluted by over-referencing and under-application.
Truly doing what you say you are going to do means honoring performance, workability, trueness, and dependability at all times. It does not examine motivations or even ask why. Integrity simple looks at performance – was the performance there or not?
Operating in this way makes navigating the sometimes precarious waters of personnel so much simpler. It is easy to assume that most of the time, 99 percent of people are doing the best they can within the confines of their resources. There is no advantage to leaders within an organization debating that truth.
For example, let’s say that Jake is late to work and because he is late, he misses out on an important client call. Because the performance is missing, the integrity of the agreement Jake had with his co-workers and the client is lost.
At this point, it does not matter that Jake was late because he his son fell down the stairs. The choice between tending to his son and tending to work is a moral choice and one that Jake makes on his own. It is not the responsibility or even the right of the company to question Jake’s moral decisions.
Once Jake makes the choice to tend to his son over work, he has a responsibility to his co-workers and the client to notify them as soon as possible and to make the performance whole – to cleanup any mess that was caused by his absence. Only those who were impacted, his coworkers and the client, can decide what, if anything, is needed restore performance and their confidence in Jake’s integrity.
Not Right or Wrong, Just Yes or No
Instead of creating a grey area where there is opportunity for emotions to enter the equation, judgments based on integrity in performance are black and white. There is no direct link between right and wrong.
In fact, two people can be doing completely opposite things yet both can be operating in integrity if following through on their intended performance.
For example, June may want her employees to feel empowered and to have a great relationship with the company. She is acting with integrity when she helps them navigate challenges within their professional development and supports their growth.
On the other hand, Emily wants to be a high-pressure boss. She wants to rule by fear and discourage collaboration. Emily is acting with integrity when she yells at her employees, sets unrealistic expectations, and shuts-down lines of communication.
In each of these situations, the leader is staying true to her intended performance; therefore, each is acting with integrity.
Finally, within our organization, we utilize integrity as a means to prevent operating by expectation.
Integrity forces agreement and agreement ensures that everyone involved knows what must be done to honor the agreement. Expectations are dangerous because they are unspoken. They are formed on assumptions and inevitably lead to disappointment.
Operating with integrity frees our team from the noise of dealing with uncertainty. Each one of us knows that we can rely on our co-workers to do what they said they would do or to make it right in the uncommon case of non-performance.
For our clients and vendors, integrity means that we show-up ready to perform, and that we expect the same. It allows us to operate effectively and efficiently in every project and in every situation; being our best selves and bringing out the best in those around us.
Topics: learning, Leadership