The Integrity Myth

In almost any poll of managers, employees, CEO’s or leaders, integrity is always rated in the top three values they aspire to, see themselves as having, or require in the organisation’s they work for.

It has almost become a buzz word.

Some have argued that it should surpass core values in organisations and become a fundamental tenant on which the others values are built on.
So why then do we read every day in the general news and in the financial press of organisations that fail in this most critical requirement for existence?

Is it because integrity is a subjective term – one that can be interpreted by the beholder?

Is it because there are such few public examples and role models?

Is it because there are no objective benchmarks for integrity?

Perhaps it is all of the above.

What we do know is that everyone wants it, and whilst each of us has an expectation of what it is, not all of us can agree on a definitive template.
Maybe, the integrity goal is too utopic a pursuit? Too high a demand on our leaders and managers?

Most of us can’t even agree on what is a reasonable remuneration for our CEO’s let alone this moving feast that changes with time, culture, region, demographic and generation.

Perhaps we must start with the building blocks, and work, over time, to a structure that resonates with the majority.

This starting point must surely be Congruence – a real harmony between what someone says and what they do.

Actions and behaviours that follow words. Character that reflects what one professes to be.

It is not at all unreasonable to expect managers and leaders to live up to their claims.

This is a simple model.

Some may justifiably argue that it is almost defeatist. They are likely to be right. But it is still a good starting point.

This Congruence model can be tested reasonably easily.
Far easier than the integrity test.

A person who does not act in congruence will be quickly caught out.
Under this model there is at least some transparency and forewarning. A manager who says he or she will do something – gives his peers the opportunity to disagree, debate and even influence change if they disagree with that proposed course of action.

More importantly they can easily see if those intentions are exectured.
Such a manager tells the world what he or she stands for. This is who I am. You can like me or not. You can choose to join me or not.

Under the Congruence model there are no surprises. A self professed philanderer is a lot easier to deal with than one who is secretly licentious.
(to be completed)