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Integrity Is Permanent

A middle-aged man was arrested for passing counterfeit $20, $50 and $100 bills. When law enforcement searched his home, they discovered three portraits that he had painted. He was a very good artist and hand-painted counterfeit bills.

After his arrest, his portraits were sold at public auction for $16,000, i.e., over $5,000 each. The irony is that it took him the same amount of time to paint each portrait as it did to paint the counterfeit bills. He could have been a wealthy man if he had legitimately marketed his ability. However, he stole from himself and compromised his integrity.

Integrity: either you have it or you don’t. It’s not something that you can have one day and not the next. It should be a constant in your life, like brushing your teeth.

Integrity and ethics in business are absolutely fundamental. Integrity is the bedrock upon which all other values are built. In my experience, if you have integrity, nothing else matters. And if you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters. This isn’t just a catchy phrase; it is a guiding principle that has served me well throughout my career.

Integrity matters for a variety of reasons:

  • Trust. Integrity builds trust between a company and its customers, employees and stakeholders. Without trust, a business cannot sustain long-term relationships that are critical for success.

  • Reputation. A reputation for integrity is priceless. It can take years to build and only a moment to destroy. Once lost, it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to regain.

  • Sustainability. Companies that operate with integrity are more likely to endure. They make decisions not just for short-term gain, but for long-term stability and growth.

  • Legal and ethical compliance. Operating with integrity means adhering to laws and ethical standards, which protects the company from legal issues and scandals.

  • Employee morale. A culture of integrity in the workplace fosters employee loyalty and engagement. When employees believe in the integrity of their leaders, they are more committed to the organization.

George Foreman, the former heavyweight boxing champion, said: “The greatest asset, even in this country, is not oil and gas. It's integrity. Everyone is searching for it, asking, ‘Who can I do business with that I can trust?"

Integrity in a company can have a real impact on an organization. It is not just about avoiding wrongdoing; it is about actively doing right by your customers, employees and the community. Integrity begins at the top. As leaders we must set the example. That alone inspires our employees to do right.

We must live by it in all we do, starting in the corner offices and promoted and expected throughout the organization, ensuring integrity is first and foremost in our decision-making. Enduring leaders know that the numbers will be better if integrity is not optional.

Have a great day!

Prof. Carl Boniface


Vocabulary builder:

Portraits (n) = paintings, drawings, sketches, pictures, representations, portrayals (interpretations), likenesses, descriptions

Bedrock (n) = substratum, base, foundation, rock layer, solid rock, core, heart, root, anchor

Stakeholders (n) = investors, backers, sponsors, participants, patrons, interested party

Engagement (n) = battle, fight, encounter, combat, action i.e., stay focused on the objective. It also means visit, date i.e., commitment to go out with someone or meet them, employment, job, position, gig

Wrongdoing (n) = crime, offence, misconduct, transgression, bad behavior, unlawful activity

Foremost (adj) = leading, primary, prime, chief, principal, notable, main, top, Important

Enduring (adj) = lasting, continuing, durable, stable, permanent, long-term, persistent, (ant) short-lived

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