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Career Development

Integrity: Definition and Examples

July 27, 2020

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Integrity, or having strong ethical and moral principles, is an essential trait that employers highly value. Integrity is the foundation for a successful employee-employer relationship. It promotes a professional culture in which individuals can depend on one another and treat each other with respect. As a result, people are typically more productive and motivated at work.

In this article, we explain what integrity is, how you can improve and display this trait and how it will help you in your career.

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What is integrity?

Integrity is the act of behaving honorably, even when no one is watching. People with integrity follow moral and ethical principles in all aspects of life. Integrity should extend to professional areas at work such as decision making, interacting with colleagues and serving customers or clients.

Employers who are committed to hiring employees with integrity are better equipped to provide high-quality service and maintain a positive reputation. When employees have integrity, their managers can trust their team is working diligently.

Related: What are Business Ethics? Definition, Importance and Tips

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Character traits related to integrity

While integrity is more of a quality than a skill, it can still be developed over time. To identify your personal strengths related to integrity, here are several examples of attributes related to integrity:

  • Gracious. Those with integrity are gracious when others provide assistance. They express gratitude and recognize achievements for people they work with. To demonstrate gratitude, always be sure to say “thank you” when someone does you a favor, helps you or takes time out of their schedule for you. Take time to send a follow-up email after an interview, phone call or meeting.

  • Respectful. People with integrity value other people by showing them respect at work. They do their best to be on time to meetings, meet project deadlines and keep people’s feelings in mind. You can demonstrate this trait by exercising punctuality, care with your words and careful consideration of people’s ideas.

  • Honest. Integrity requires honesty. Those with integrity strive to be truthful. They own up to mistakes and try to learn from them.

  • Trustworthy. People with integrity follow through on their commitments. To demonstrate trustworthiness, avoid over-promising. If you’re unable to complete a task or meet a deadline, be sure to let others know as quickly as possible. If you are trusted with personal information, respect it.

  • Hardworking. Those with integrity strive to produce high-quality work on time, regardless of the task. They recognize that everything they do can impact the organization, their colleagues and business outcomes.

  • Responsible. Those with integrity take accountability for their actions. They are also organized and proactive making sure they deliver on their responsibilities.

  • Helpful. When someone has integrity, they help those in need. This may be in the form of lending their time for a project without being asked or offering to cover for an employee in an emergency.

  • Patient. A person with integrity is able to tolerate challenges, delays and unexpected obstacles while maintaining a calm, even demeanor. They wait their turn to speak in meetings and one-on-one conversations.

Related: Valuable Examples of Integrity at Work

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What does integrity mean in the workplace?

In a workplace setting, acting with integrity often means demonstrating your core values in all efforts. Here are a few behaviors that show integrity:

  • Being dependable and following through on commitments
  • Being open and honest when communicating with others
  • Holding yourself accountable and owning up to your shortcomings

It’s important that employees exercise integrity regardless of their department or career level. Integrity is critical, however, in leadership positions where people have the opportunity to set examples for others. By incorporating strong values into your behavior, you can help encourage other employees to do the same.

Read more: How to Maintain Professional Integrity in the Workplace

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How to display integrity in the workplace

Whether you’re working in a small business or a large corporation, your commitment to integrity will impact the workplace. Acting with integrity not only helps show employers you are capable of handling responsibilities that can advance your career, it also helps foster a positive company culture.

Here’s are several actions you can take to demonstrate integrity and impact your workplace environment:

  1. Show up ready to work. Arrive at your workplace on time and ready to complete tasks. If you have a conflict or a personal emergency, be sure to let a manager know immediately rather than arriving late or being absent from work without notice.

  2. Set a positive example. Whether you’re in a leadership position or not, it’s critical to set a good example for the people around you. If you demonstrate positive behavior, others will be more encouraged to do the same.

  3. Be respectful during conflict. Having integrity means you stand up for your ideas opinions, but it also means you avoid speaking negatively of others or using unprofessional language. When you disagree with someone, take time to consider their point of view and respond respectfully.

  4. Practice accountability. It’s important you admit your wrongdoings and hold yourself responsible for mistakes even when no one else is watching. For example, if you fail to meet a goal, you should explain the situation to your supervisor and explore ways to avoid the same outcome in the future.

  5. Follow and enforce company policies. Company policies are developed to keep employees safe, foster professionalism and promote efficiency. Take time to understand these rules and follow them.

  6. Improve your work ethic. Take the time to ensure your work is done well and completed on or before the due date. Strive to be productive during working hours and meet each task or assignment with enthusiasm and motivation.

  7. Respect property. Treat others’ belongings with care, including company property. Avoid taking business supplies for personal use and be sure to return items to their owners.

Related: 17 Traits and Skills Employers Want You to Have

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Examples of integrity

For additional context about how to exercise integrity, here are a few scenarios involving integrity in the workplace:

Example 1: Confronting gossip

During lunch, Jonah’s colleagues began criticizing a colleague’s inability to meet deadlines and their manager’s failure to address the situation. After ensuring he understood their concerns, Jonah suggested his colleagues discuss their concerns directly with the employee and manager.

Example 2: Making hard decisions

Keiana was a developer assigned to develop code for a new product. Although she had been working on the code for several months, she kept running into dead ends. Instead of patching together a temporary solution that would allow her to use the code she worked so hard to create, she decided to discuss the issue with her team to crowdsource a solution. Her primary goal was to ensure the code didn’t lead to problems down the road or undermine the quality of the product.

Example 3: Addressing issues of honesty

Amira, a sales rep for a software company, was asked by a potential customer whether the company’s technology could perform a specific function critical to his business needs. Amira wasn’t certain the software could handle his needs, so she told him she would need to get back to him. Rather than provide potential misinformation just to make the sale, Amira checked with the development team first. After determining the product could perform the requested function, she let her customer know. Not only did Amira earn the sale, but she earned trust and respect from her client, too.

Example 4: Giving credit

Marco had been working for more than six months on a project and was near completion. He was stuck on the last step of the project and was having difficulty. His coworker Yvonne stopped by and noticed the project Marco was working on. She gave him a useful tip on how to complete the final step. Marco thanked Yvonne for her advice and, during the next meeting with his manager, explained how Yvonne’s expertise helped him finish the project.

Related: Tips to Demonstrate Work Ethic

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Quick tips for maintaining integrity in the workplace

Below are a few tips you can follow to uphold integrity in your workplace:

  • Lead by example
  • Exercise open communication
  • Be accountable for your actions
  • Report inappropriate, unethical behavior
  • Be civil and respectful
  • Exercise patience and emotional control

Integrity is essential for success in any role and can help you advance in your career. By staying committed to your ethical principles, you can set a positive example for others and ensure a better workplace experience for all.

Related: A Complete Guide to Integrity in the Workplace

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