Updated: Mar 24, 2020
Last week, I introduced the topic of Integrity as a differentiating core value within organizations. Given the unfortunate prevalence of organizations that lack integrity, it can and should be a value that sets you apart from others. At CEEK, we challenge ourselves and others to embrace a broader definition of integrity that we refer to as the Three W’s of Integrity. We believe a more comprehensive and intentional emphasis on Integrity will differentiate and protect you and your organization as a provider of goods and services, valued employer, and contributing member of your respective community. Today, I tackle the first of the Three W’s:
Honor your Worth
This form of integrity relates to the most common definition pertaining to honesty and ethics. We don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Many equate this form of integrity to “doing the right thing when no one is watching.” When you lack this form of integrity, you devalue your worth. Succumbing to lapses of this form of integrity may destroy your reputation with customers, employees, and the community. It is difficult to restore this form of integrity once you lose it.
Most of us view this form of Integrity as being pretty black and white. We know that lying, cheating, and stealing is wrong. Yet such lapses persist and seem to be even more common. According to the Washington Post, 39% of forced CEO departures in 2018 were due to ethical misconduct. This is a steady increase from 10% reported a decade earlier.
Significant ethical lapses do not start with a simple black and white decision. No one goes from being an exceptional student and athlete one day to a convicted drug dealer the next. Similarly, no one goes from a being a passionate and conscientious business-person one day to imprisonment for bribery and extortion the next.
These things happen where opportunity meets preparation. It is a progressive series of events – or widening of boundaries that leads individuals and organizations down a slippery slope. If you and your organization desire to “Honor Your Worth,” I encourage you to define and enforce clear boundaries or “guard rails” for acceptable behavior. Just like guard rails on the road prevent you from entering the most dangerous territory, so too can guard rails in your life and business. Ask yourself, what behaviors are you tolerating today that could lead you or your organization down a slippery slope?
As a personal example, my family employs the following guard rail, “cure the ill, return the pill.” In case you have not noticed, we are in the midst of an opioid epidemic. My daughter, wife, and I have had five surgeries in which pain medication was prescribed. We ALWAYS return unused medication to the pharmacy. Why would we leave the temptation of unused pain medication? This simple guard rail eliminates the potential for the slippery slope that can lead to abuse.
So what can you do as an employee in your organization? Regardless of your level, you can certainly define and employ individual guard rails to prevent yourself from heading down a slippery slope. As a leader, I encourage you to openly solicit and/or define guardrails for the organization that you lead.
In response to this blog post, I ask readers to share individual and/or organizational guard rails the you employ to Honor Your Worth. I will start the ball rolling by sharing one that we embrace at CEEK - Let your gut speak. Simply put, if anything we do makes someone uneasy, we provide a safe space for that individual to speak up without fear of retribution.
Let’s hear what you have to say. Share your guard rails here to inspire and encourage individual and organizations to Honor their Worth. And I hope you will check back in next week as I unpack the second of the Three W’s of Integrity – Honor your Word. Until then, CEEK a Better Way!