How do you handle challenges to your integrity?

 Do you ever feel conflicted at work? Are you ever uncomfortable when asked to take a certain action, agree to a particular decision or ignore something, that seems important? It is at times like these that your integrity is being tested. We suggest it as these moments a leader of character is being seriously tested and a leader of character always acts with integrity. 

There are a couple of parts of this definition of what Leaders of Character do in relation to this important area that we should explore, namely what do we mean by ‘integrity’ and when we say leaders of character ‘always’ act with integrity just how ‘always’ is that? 



Integrity is a pretty wide-ranging word that covers aspects of character, honour, ethical and righteous behaviour. It speaks to the idea that a person’s word is their bond and that when someone commits to doing something they will give of their best in order to achieve it. It is not always a guarantee of whether they succeed or not but that they did everything the could to deliver on their promise. The result, when we talk about integrity, is less significant than the intention and the effort put into achieving the best outcome possible. 


So, what about the idea that Leaders of Character ‘always’ act in this way? Well, I am a little wary of definitives. It becomes quite difficult for anyone to do anything ‘always’ and do we mean ‘always’ at this point in time or 'always and forever', including how I have acted in the past? The key here is not about a measure of absolutes, rather it is more an aspiration that wherever possible Leaders of Character such as you, will be acting consciously enough that you will act with high levels of integrity. You may make errors in judgment or you may not have had possession of all the facts which leads to mistakes but if the intention was pure you can still be said to have acted with integrity. 


Overt Integrity

The clearer you are about your Purpose and the values and beliefs that you hold dear, the easier it is to maintain a sense of integrity in a majority of situations.

You may be asked to make a person redundant that you don’t feel has been treated fairly by your organisation - what do you do? Well, ultimately you may not prevent that person from being made redundant but as a Leader of Character you would not let your feelings and thoughts about the situation go unheard, as that clashes with your own sense of fairness and what is deemed 'just'.

You would speak up in such situations, make a case and try to influence at least a review of the situation - even when the business case for the decision is clear. The question that you can find that you ask yourself is: ‘Is it right to let this slide without saying something?” or “Am I ok with me not saying something to highlight what is wrong here?” Then you can tap into your own values to check the right course of action and usually you’ll know when right is right.

Such ethical wrestling with the sense of what is the 'right' thing to do applies not just to others of course but crucially it applies to how and what you do that helps you maintain a sense of integrity towards yourself. Hold yourself to account in relation to your actions and words in order to retain a positive sense of self-identity. 

Do now: 

1. Ask yourself in what situations do you keep quiet when your values and sense of integrity means you would be better off speaking up? 

2. Explore why and with whom, you stay quiet when you could be more outspoken. Reflect on why that might be. 

3. Plan ways to be able to raise your thoughts, convictions and objections effectively with those that you currently struggle to do that with. 

Performance Edge Partners Ltd are keen to help you build the highest quality leadership in order that your organisation can succeed. When you are ready,  we will be eager to help. Contact us here.  

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John Lewis
Little Hearts Matter