Integrity is Not Situational. Do You Show It?

By Chris Edmonds.

You do not have to go very far in global media outlets to find reports of highly visible, otherwise “responsible” people behaving badly.

Whether it’s for accusations of sexual harassment, degrading behavior, misuse of funds or more, you can easily find news articles about men and women who do not demonstrate a level of character that you would hope someone of that influence would. You will also find it can take a long time, if ever, for the guilty party to own up to their unacceptable behavior.

Examples of personal responsibility are often hard to find, which is a sad state of affairs.

I believe the tendency to do what one wants without taking personal responsibility is an integrity issue. These behaviors may have other influences (power, personal gratification, etc.) but at the core, it is an integrity issue. What do I mean? defines integrity as adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

In essence, you build integrity when you follow through on what you promise to do. If you say you will live by certain morals and standards, you will live that out in every interaction. Integrity does not mean you do what you say some of the time. It does not mean that you choose how you will follow through based on the people you are around. It means you consistently live up to your values and convictions.

Consistent personal integrity will not get you headlines (well, perhaps not as widespread headlines as breaches in integrity do) but it will gain you the trust and respect of those with whom you work. It will boost relationships with colleagues, customers, and your bosses. It creates a sense of safety, driving others to be willing to apply their energy toward shared values and goals.

Strong personal integrity is powerful and worth pursuing. Moreover, if you look a little bit, you will find headlines of those who display personal integrity, like

  • A New York Times Magazine article features Jason Everman‘s story of his transition from rock star wanna-be (he was kicked out of two genre-defining bands: Nirvana and Soundgarden) to highly decorated Special Forces member.
  • PGA golfer Hunter Mahan was in the lead at 13 strokes under par of the Canadian Open on Saturday morning, July 27, 2013. While on the practice tee, he received a call from his pregnant wife. Though due to deliver the baby in August, she was headed to the hospital after starting labor. Mahan withdrew from the tournament at that moment to fly to Dallas to be with his wife. His potential winnings meant far less than being present at the birth of he and his wife’s first child.

Our world desperately needs people who model integrity daily.  Be one of them, whether you ever make it to the headlines or not.

Contributed by S. Chris Edmonds, the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year career leading and managing teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. Since 1995, Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies. Chris provides high-impact keynotes, executive briefings, and executive consulting. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn how to craft workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution in Chris’ new book, The Culture Engine, available now. His blog, podcasts, free assessments, research, and videos can be found at

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