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The Hard Problem Of Integrity

Why is integrity a hard problem – because as easy to preach and to provide basic lip service based on a person mannerism and being nice

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Integrity simply means being honest & having strong moral principles. A simple word that a person should demonstrate sound moral and ethical principals in person & at work. The foundation of relationships with coworker is built on integrity and thus stems out trust from it. Hence with honesty comes trust and integrity is born.

It is so easy to understand yet so difficult to action. The word has been liberally used especially in the corporate world, and the last sentence in every reference report is ‘high on integrity’ and it has become just a jargon everybody wants it but no one owns it.

Why is integrity a hard problem – because as easy to preach and to provide basic lip service based on a person mannerism and being nice, however it actually means doing the right thing when nobody is watching Or the ability to say NO..

Society & Culture : So does society and culture has any impact on how we behave & level of integrity one has. In a society like our where it is taught to be impolite to say no hence one’s ability to say NO even if it’s wrong is compromised. A society where we want all the rights and no responsibility.

Fear: The fear of losing one’s job or fear of impressions being formed by superiors is always high on our agenda especially in a cut throat corporate culture, so how does one maintain integrity?

Education System: Do we have ethics and moral science as subject that teaches us good and bad of society and how to live by certain principles.

Corporate Culture of Integrity: culture of integrity has to start at the top and is directly proportional to how top leader conducts himself and his leadership philosophy. Organization with culture of integrity will develop trust , hence increasing loyalty & fostering team work and strong camaraderie. When we have “trust” in our dealings with a corporation it is usually because the leadership of the company has created a culture of integrity.

Integrity is not as easy as we perceive it to be it has factors which are deep rooted in multitude of factors from society, family, culture from factors beyond our controls and hence It becomes a hard problem because to stay committed to one’s integrity is a personal one, however it depends on factors which are beyond ones control yet ultimate responsibility lies on the individuals shoulders. It is also said that integrity takes a lifetime to build and can be destroyed in a moment

The choice to stay committed to one’s integrity and code of ethics is a personal one, even in the face of a strong corporate culture that tolerates, encourages and condones behavior that is lacking in integrity and devoid of ethics.

The examples are plenty and as recent as Carlos Ghosn chairman who lost his job because of an integrity issue. If you look at corporate India there are plenty stalwart’s who fell from the heights because of a simple to understand a thing called integrity. In all these cases it clearly showcases that integrity is a part of us which surely is not as easy as it is made out to be.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Rajesh Pundir

The author is Managing Partner, Executive Access – executive search firm

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