Integrity - An Internal Compass

AUTHORED BY MARK JOHNSON, VICE PRESIDENT, MANAGED SERVICES @ GUIDEIT

Mark Johnson, Vice President, Managed Services @ GuideIT

Mark Johnson, Vice President, Managed Services @ GuideIT

Not long ago the call went out for a volunteer to write the next installment of our series of GuideIT Values blog entries.  With the topic being “integrity” I quickly said “I’ll take that one”, thinking to myself “hey that’s an easy one to knock out.”  Well, as it turns out, not so much.

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As I put fingers to keys I started with the predictable list of “challenges to integrity” but soon had to ask myself, how do you write about integrity in a way that doesn’t come across as either sanctimonious or overly simplistic?  And further, how do you translate a critical foundation of character into mere words?

At GuideIT our Founders adopted this approach in an attempt to express what integrity means to us:  “We will hold each other to unquestionable standards of honesty and ethics, in words and actions, and operate with transparency.”

Helpful, but still what does that mean?  If integrity in business meant simply being honest, it’s not a terribly high bar to clear, though isn’t it sad how some don’t?  No, too often we’re faced with opportunities to “pass or fail” an integrity test in far less visible ways, or ways in which there’s not necessarily a clear cut “right” answer.  That’s where the “unquestionable” part comes in.  The standard is clear, the measure remains harder to quantify.  But let’s face it – we all know it when we see it.  So do our fellow team members, and so do our customers.

Can you teach integrity?  I’d say yes and no.  Without question you can use day to day opportunities (and challenges) in business to guide your team members towards what it means to operate in the center of the ethical playing field, whether leading by example yourself, or providing specific guidance about your expectations for ethical behavior as situations arise.  So yes, you can absolutely teach integrity, but only to a point.

No matter how hard you work to establish an environment conducive to both earning and maintaining trust, inherently there is still an element of character that has to come from within, one that if missing will never consistently meet the expectation to operate with “unquestionable standards of honesty.”  To me, that internal compass is called having a conscience, emboldened with the courage to choose the harder right, rather than the easier wrong, even when the decision or the results may not be popular.  There are lots of people who know the right thing to do; at GuideIT we look for the ones actually willing to do it, and hold everyone, including our leaders, to that same standard.

At GuideIT our motto is “Do Technology Right.”  As I reflected on what I initially thought was a simple marketing slogan, my “ah-ha moment” was when I realized it also provides a straight forward approach to operating with integrity.  “Do Technology Right”, absolutely.  But how about, simply do what’s right.

I guess it wasn’t all that hard after all.

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