People who know me know how important integrity is to me. People close to me within my network definitely think I take too hard of a stance on others who have let me down through their actions and subsequent lack of integrity. I am a very trusting person and want to always be able to take people at their word. But once a person fails to live up to their word I have a very difficult time looking beyond that experience and continuing our professional or personal relationship. It’s different from someone simply letting you down on something they committed to you on – it goes beyond that. I think it’s the fact that you will never fully be able to trust that individual ever again in what they say or do.
I googled the word “integrity” and found the following definition – “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” I like this definition. That to me should be the benchmark we need to adhere to and take full personal accountability for it. It sounds simple enough and the best thing about integrity is that we as individuals have complete control over our own integrity. We have nobody to blame but ourselves when we act without it.
Unfortunately there are a number of people who I have worked with in the past who have let me down with their dishonest actions. I think back to my experiences as a senior recruitment and talent leader working with my teams across the world for one of the top global organizations – and I was fortunate to work with so many great people. But I often recall the few instances that I came across people on these teams who acted with a lack of integrity in their roles. As a believer in ongoing performance management and working closely with any team members to get them back on track when there was a performance issue, it was difficult if not impossible to help someone when it involved an issue of integrity. I just don’t think someone can change when they have acted without moral character or honesty. It becomes more of a trend rather than a one-off “I made a mistake” action. It’s usually premeditated with the person knowing exactly what they are doing.
Can people change when it comes to a lack of integrity? I find that when confronting someone on this issue, they simply continue to deceive and get deeper and deeper into their deceptions. Mark Twain had a great quote on integrity – “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”
As a Recruitment and HR professional, integrity is core to what we do. Our clients we support in our organizations look to us as experts in talent. The candidates we deal with everyday look to us as an organizational ambassador for the company they want to be a part of. Our colleagues depend on us to perform a job that is critical to the talent success of the company.
As a leader, integrity gives us credibility with the people we lead. If our actions as a leader lack honesty than we lose the respect and trust of the people who we as leaders have to count on for our success. You just can’t recover as a leader when your team loses the trust of your character. They will always be questioning your words and actions in their minds and looking for every reason not to trust you.
When we lose credibility with any of the people we work with, we lose our ability to be successful. It’s difficult to recover when someone you work with loses confidence in your integrity. Your reputation is completely crushed as word of your actions will spread quickly across the organization. With social media platforms bringing everyone closer together it’s easy for the HR and Recruitment community to hear about your reputation and actions from the people you used to work with. So more than ever you need to ensure your reputation isn’t tarnished and the best way to do this is to simply act with character and integrity in everything you do. None of us are perfect and we do make mistakes. But when it comes to your integrity, it’s your personal and professional brand at stake.
“In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” — Warren Buffet
Simon Parkin is the Practice Leader for Recruitment and Talent Management at The Talent Company – www.thetalent.co Simon is recognized as a global thought leader in the acquisition and management of top talent and has successfully transformed the Talent function for organizations of all sizes. Simon works closely with clients to build, develop and innovate their Recruitment, Talent and HR functions. He is a former global leader of Recruitment and Talent for a Fortune 100 company. Simon is a featured speaker at a number of HR and Recruitment conferences across North America and an author of many acclaimed articles on innovative Recruitment, Talent and HR trends and best practices. Simon’s full profile can be found at http://ca.linkedin.com/in/simonparkin1