The definition of integrity is generally the quality of being honest. I stretch the definition to “Do you and your business walk your own talk”? Are you doing what you say you will do, meeting the commitments you make, adhering to the reputation that you choose to portray all the time? In the simplest form, do you have integrity as a core competency (in the real sense, is it part of your core and are you at least competent at it).

I see all too many people and businesses that lack integrity and rarely deliver when they promise or what they promise or consistently overpromise what they can achieve in a misguided belief that not meeting the expectation or promise they themselves set is OK.

From my experience this happens for one of four reasons:

  1. People change their priority of the previous promise and demote it in favor of the newer commitment or opportunity in front of them.
  2. People are unclear of what their promise means to others.
  3. People simply say what they need to in order to make someone else happy or go away.
  4. People say what makes THEM feel good and don’t even recognize they are making a promise.

The examples are everywhere. You should not say you value customers and then put them on hold for 10 minutes. You should not say quality matters to your vendors and put out products with problems to your Customers. You should not accept that you make top quality products and have low quality collateral materials or trade show presence. These are only a few examples of all the messages by which you and/or your business are measured. What else can an outsider use to evaluate you or your business? Your ACTIONS – Not your words.

This is the reality of life. Say who you are and what you stand for and then do that everywhere. Each time you don’t, each time you leave some ambiguity, some inconsistency, some unmet expectation or promise, you are saying to yourself, your colleagues and your customers “that’s not important and that’s OK”. To have integrity, it’s NOT OK.

When you miss, fess up fast and get on with it. Nobody is perfect. No company is perfect. Few expect that. The person that can accept responsibility with honest contrition and commitment to do better rises to a new level of trust. The respect, the trust, the continued relationships go to those that make commitments and then meet them. They are consistent with themselves, with their colleagues, with their revenue producing relationships and with the supplier/vendor partners. Success is in the deepest consistency that matters; you. Everything else you do is built on your ability to be consistent with your word. It is really simple and very hard.