All of us, at one time or another, have been asked to do something that made us pause for a moment before proceeding.
Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. ~ Amy Reese Anderson
When new opportunities or situations arise, we may be:
- Feeling some excitement: “What an opportunity! What a challenge! This is such a great idea!”
- Formalizing a plan: “Who to involve? What’s the first step? Can the goal be met?”
- Taking a deep breath: “This is overwhelming! Where will I find the time? How will I learn this?”
Occasionally, we may also feel our heart sink:
- “This isn’t right.”
- “I can’t do this to my people.”
- “This isn’t the best path for the organization or its customers.”
Sometimes, that sinking feeling may nag us until we realize that we are in the middle of a crisis of integrity.
Gaining Clarity on Integrity
When we find ourselves at the crossroads of integrity and career, how do we know when to carry on versus when to move on?
A simple Integrity Test is the guidepost to use. This was shared with me by a coaching friend and it made a significant difference in my own career.
It may be helpful to you, as well.
Take the Leadership Integrity Test:
At the end of the day, look in the mirror and ask yourself these two questions:
- “Did I do the right thing for the organization today?”
- “Did I do the right thing for my people today?”
Admittedly, only you can define “the right thing.” As a leader, I believe you know what that means for your organization, your people, and yourself.
Results on Which to Reflect
If you easily respond yes to both questions, carry on. You are standing in integrity without conflict.
If you hesitate to say yes to either or both questions, take a moment and reflect on why.
- Is there something you could have done differently?
- Why did you choose the path you did?
- What obstacle did you have to overcome to ultimately do the right thing?
- Is there a conversation you should have with someone about that?
If you respond no to either question, you are not standing in your integrity. At this point you have a choice to make.
- You can continue business as usual, knowing that your personal integrity is being compromised. Making that choice has many downstream impacts that will break the trust of your team and negatively impact your leadership.
- You can try to affect change by engaging the right people in a conversation about changing course. Perhaps there is information you were not aware of that may change your mind. You might discover that the ultimate goal is one you believe in and you can live with the path someone else has prescribed.
- You can decide that the existing leadership and direction is not going to change and you can’t live with that. Then, it is time to make a change yourself and seek other employment. This is a courageous and potentially lonely path to take. However, nothing is more valuable that your own integrity. Making a career change so you can remain true to closely held personal values will be rewarding in the long run.
Life is Short. Think About This…
Lost income can be replaced. Lost integrity cannot. Lost position, title or stature can be regained. Lost integrity cannot. Lost experience can be found elsewhere. Lost integrity cannot.
If you begin to feel in your heart and mind that you may be slipping out of integrity, take the integrity test. It’s a simple way to measure a complex concept.
So, how did you do on your Integrity Test? did you answer Yes, No, or not Sure? What steps can you take in the future to make sure that you are a leader with integrity? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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