Written by Douglas Ross "Results through Integrity" is built upon a few simple concepts that are known but not always applied. The end result of this dialog will be an understanding of how people and organizations can improve performance by building integrity into all they do. This first series of articles aims at improving the understanding of integrity as it defined and applying this knowledge to business and personal life. The subsequent articles will build on this foundation as we unravel the complex and evolving nature of integrity in business, science and religion. Dr Henry Cloud in his book "Integrity -The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality" points out that the concept of integrity has it roots in French and Latin words that mean intact, integrate, integral and entirety. He summarizes that the concept of integrity means "that the whole thing is working well, undivided, integrated, intact and uncorrupted." Finally, he concludes that "integrity is about firing on all cylinders- it is about wholeness and effectiveness." We would like to build on this conclusion and apply it to communications, systems and organizations.
Dr Cloud begins his work with a simple definition.The Oxford dictionary defines integrity as 1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. "He is known as a man of integrity." 2. The state of being whole and undivided: " upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty." 3. The condition of being unified, unimpaired or sound in construction." the structural integrity of the novel." 4. Internal consistency or lack of corruption in electronic data. Integrity by this definition has 4 component parts. Dr Cloud focuses on the first component part and explores 7 characteristics associated with personal integrity. I would like to explore these 4 parts as a complete system. By looking at the component parts as a system , I will attempt to develop the concept of Results through Integrity in a way that it can be used in business and government as a vehicle to improve effectiveness. The first component part emphasizes personal integrity by looking at the elements of truth, principles and a comprehensive doctrine of life. The first element in this definition identifies the idea of honesty. To be fair, this is the most common interpretation of integrity. Some people define integrity as "doing what they say and say what they are doing." This definition has structural integrity but it could be argued that when a person is honest about proposing and conducting a violent act, that this is not integrity. Honesty is about speaking the truth and the truth is about knowing and doing what is right. We see this in people and leaders with integrity. They speak with truth and in doing so, they become role models for others. This, then, becomes a standard for the way people see themselves in the organization, and for what they need to do to make the organization successful. They all work together to create an atmosphere that encourages individual excellence as the prerequisite to organizational excellence. However in other companies, speaking the truth is not encouraged. Chaos reigns in the daily affairs of business and immediacy replaces truth as the standard of operation . Truth, in effect, is sacrificed for profitability. People in these companies are more concerned with looking good rather than being good. The second element in the definition identifies the idea of strong moral principles. Morals reflect a code of knowing that differentiates between right or wrong in the conduct of human affairs.This code can be rule based such as " you cannot steal from the company" or it can be internal such as " I will not steal because it is not the right thing to do." This supports the interpretation of honesty as truth and introduces the notion that there is a right and wrong way to do things in business and all human activity. In successful companies people at all levels of the organization are encouraged to "Do the right thing." This ocurs becasue leaders are committed to engage the employees in the business of doing the right thing at the right moment. Bill Shaw, now a leader with GM Power Train, told me when he was plant manager that his leadership team was committted to making the company a success by doing the right thing; however, he added that the real engine of success was the engagement of the GM plant workers. Companies, who believe that truth leads to a commitment to do the right thing, understand that doing the right things leads to consumer loyalty and market place momentum. The last element in this definition identifies the idea of moral uprightness. This is a position whereby people stand up for truth and for principles in the conduct of human affairs. This implies that people recognize truth and have a set of moral principles that they can speak from. It also implies that people have a responsibility to themselves and to others to speak up. It also assumes that they live and work in an atmosphere where they can learn to stand up and lead. Not everyone is a leader of people. However, everyone wants to add value and be recognized for their contribution at work . Moral uprightness gives all people the choice of speaking up about what needs to be done within the sphere of their knowledge. Companies that encourage moral uprightness win the market place. They develop systems and programs of continuous improvement where employees and customers speak up about the what they know about the organization and how it operates. These companies develop leaders who respect the knowledge and experience of employees and people in every walk of life. They see the encouragement of moral uprightness as an opportunity to for everyone to prosper. The dialog on Results through Integrity will always start with personal integrity. It is what we know best. Integrity ,by its very definition, goes beyond this starting point to organizational, systems and communications integrity. In this dialog on Results through Integrity, we will expand this definition into a vital pathway for change within ourselves and our organizations. Integrity is, in my opinion, integral to performance