Good Morning, Joe, the lift doors open automatically to allow the rugby built person in. We quickly chat about yesterday eLearning course, which was overdue, and for God sake, we had been ignoring it for a while. Where we work, continuous e-Learnings’ are a norm and must be done. That Thursday morning over our breakfast, Joe said to me “the most important employee in any given organisation is an employee with high level of ethics and integrity”.
He continued and said “corruption is done by that person who lacks integrity and has poor respect for ethics in the workplace”. In his sermon, I posed a trick question whether someone could be ethical, but not have integrity?” hahahahaha. Joe, the reader reverted or fought back by “what do you think”? After thinking about it for a moment, I answered with this: “Ethics is about following the rules and integrity is about doing the right thing, regardless of the rules.” You can follow the rules but not have integrity.
A person with integrity does not need to be under observation or any rules to do the correct thing, I am no expert, just my two Thebe. Joe is this kind of employee who read everything in black and white and he will abide by all the rules in the book. This is a man who will return to you your 50 Thebe that he picked on the floor. Joe is one of my trusted associates in fact my confidante, compact, clear-cut man, with precise features and when tired he will look like a failed soldier. Sometimes, nothing feels better than “telling all” to a friend whom you know he has a high level of integrity and ethics. Integrity is more personal and it is a quality of an individual to be honest and fair.
Current economic news making headlines in Botswana and South African are centred on unethical business practices. Famous scandals of leading brands and names have made headlines for what the business society deems integrity and ethical scandals. One of the fundamental characteristics of any successful organisation, business and entrepreneurs along passion, is integrity. The biggest game change now in the business set up in Southern Africa is Integrity, considering the event that affected big names and so forth. Every person should have morals that guide, influence and inform them to make decisions. In the book The Servant of the People, Kaptein insists that integrity is key for politicians because they are chosen, appointed and elected to serve society. Kaptein highlights that it is important that politicians withstand this temptation and that it demands knowledge and compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the written and unwritten rules.
Yukl (2013) refers to integrity as “honesty and consistency between a person’s espoused values and behaviour”. According to Colquitt et al. (2007), integrity offers a very logical reason to trust someone. Integrity is also acting consistently not only with what is generally accepted as moral, what others think, but also primarily with what is ethical. Elections are just around the corner and this is a great opportunity not to waste your vote and vote for those with questionable characters. The world is not perfect but as voters, we have a say on how we can influence our democracy. Not dwelling in the subject of election, people are what make the country therefore vote wisely. I have registered and I am looking forward to the date as well.
So what does this all mean to a man on the street? To a man on the street, the expression is “Say what you mean and mean what you say”. This is very difficult to do even our editors, directors and leaders in most cases apply “do as I say and do not what I do”. If you cheat your wife at home, how can you not cheat at work? If you steal at home, what will make you stop stealing at work? If you are not honest with you wife, what will make you honest at work? Employees can’t be trusted when they don’t tell the entire truth. If your boss is a cheating spouse, expect that behaviour in the place of work from your boss. Individuals that have integrity build trust in their relations whether personal or professional. More often they are counted on to do what is right in most times. Employers as well don’t tell the truth. Employees’ perceptions of their managers’ behavioural integrity are rooted both in their managers’ actual conduct and in the “eye of the beholder”. How do you respect such a leader with low level of integrity? Employees’ perceptions of managers’ integrity are likely to affect other attitudes about the workplace, including their sense of fair treatment, their commitment and their satisfaction. At the corporate level, integrity refers to the culture, policies, and leadership philosophy. A culture of integrity has to start at the top and be seen in the conduct and activities of the executives. The leadership of the corporation must develop a consensus around shared values. It is important for an individual to search for an employer with similar values. The culture of integrity may be far more important than the starting salary in one’s quest for personal and professional fulfilment. Don’t work for the company that doesn’t uphold your standards of values. This is simple and straight forward; unless you want to be frustrated by management behaviour and their employees.
Brown et al. (2005) propose that integrity is the foundation of ethical leadership. Integrity can therefore be described as a component of ethical leadership. Leader integrity has a significantly positive influence on ethical leadership. In Aristotelian ethics, “There is at least one virtue recognised by tradition which cannot be specified except with reference to the wholeness of human life – the virtue of integrity or constancy.” Bob Marley said, “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires but in his integrity and ability to affect those around him positively. In conclusion, the book of Proverbs 11v3, the Lord say “The integrity of the upright guides them but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity”. Mr Editor, Mr Manager, Mr Director, invest in your own integrity and be example to your subordinates.