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Why Integrity Matters

Integrity, as author Dr Henry Cloud says in his groundbreaking book of the same title, is important because “It affects our real results in the areas of our lives which matter to us most”. (Preface, Integrity: the courage to meet the demands of reality).

In other words, integrity is all to do with joining up the dots between personal character and the actions which flow out into the real world around us. Dr Cloud aptly describes how a right approach to dealing with integrity or its lack, both within ourselves and with those around us, leads to incalculable yet measurable benefits to all.

The pathway to producing people who have a firm commitment to following this path is one of the most important considerations in business and any interpersonal relationships.

So, what exactly is integrity? The bulk of this article will describe it different facets, or dimensions, leaving you with a very clear understanding of what you must do in order to realize and plan out how to foster a culture which embraces the values each dimension represents.

Let’s begin.

Integrity is Six Dimensional

Treating integrity as multi-dimensional allows us to map out each facet in a clear way. In reality, these dimensions are not independent of one another, but are inextricably meshed and intertwined within the very fabric of human relationships. I’m only separating out the different strands to help steer a careful pathway to make things easier!

Dimension 1: Establishing Trust

Being able to successfully follow through on what you say you are going to do is a significant part of trust-building. In old-fashioned language, someone who “is as good as his word” is a person who has a dependable consistency that others can rely on.

But establishing trust not only entails consistent actions, it also involves consistent behaviour. People trust others who they feel are stable in their response to challenges.

Trust runs deeper than this alone however, and it’s to do with the way in which we express understanding and empathy as we relate to others.

Cultivating empathy – being able to put yourself in the shoes of others, and being able to communicate that to them, is a sign of caring for others that I will examine in more detail when I look at transcendence, but for now, hang on to the fact that establishing yourself as a trustworthy person entails becoming a master of consistency as well as empathy.

Dimension 2: Oriented Towards Truth

This dimension is summed up in the phrase “actively seeking after and communicating the full reality of the situation”.

In other words, people who are oriented towards the truth aren’t merely those who don’t lie, but they have a tendency to be honest even when it might be painful to themselves or others.

The reason for this is that they understand that the full reality of a situation is the description within which there is the best likelihood of a solution that will work.

Dimension 3: Getting Results

Finishing well is the best way to sum up this dimension of integrity. Those who finish well have a very good understanding of their key strengths, and at the same time they recognise where they require the help of others to manage those areas where they lack skill or experience.

Getting results depends on the awareness that to bring order, to make things work, you have to invest your and your team’s skills in a wholehearted and skilful way, matching each person’s strengths to the different aspects of the task in hand.

For example, you wouldn’t ask the creative director of a company to audit the company’s finances. Likewise, your finance officer wouldn’t necessarily be most suited to think of new ways to market you company’s products.

But getting results goes deeper than just skills or talents.

Finishing well is a character trait of someone who is mature – they are able to realistically assess what they can and can’t do, they are not afraid to be vulnerable to their team; they have confidence in their own strengths and yet fully recognise and validate the strengths of others around them.

Dimension 4: Embracing the Negative

When was the last time you welcomed criticism, even embraced it? How easy do you find it to separate out the message from the messenger?

“Tell me the last 10%” sums up someone who is willing to hear the valid criticisms of others, knowing full well that there is the real risk that the messenger may not want to withhold their grievances in a kind way.

But a person or business that has learned the value of not only allowing the criticism, but actively seeks it out gains immeasurably over those who would want to avoid the painful realities that encompass the untold 10% of any given problem.

As Henry Cloud puts it so aptly:

No Problem, No Profit.

Facing into the wind of a problem is a tough call, but for those people or organisations who dare, they understand the fullness of the extent of the realities surrounding them, and are in a much better position to bring real and lasting solutions that remain totally inaccessible to others.

Dimension 5: Oriented Towards Increase

Cloud beautifully sums up this dimension of integrity:

You will not grow if you do not attempt to do things you cannot yet do.

Being oriented towards increase means that you or your organizations are on a continuous pathway to learn, to develop, to want to be stretched and challenged.

Muscles that don’t get used eventually wither, and the effects they were intended to produce eventually die through lack of exercise.

Likewise, a person or organization that loses that hunger to develop, to increase – to become more of who they are, eventually loses those skills and abilities.

Conversely, those who have an insatiable appetite to grow, to become more of who they are finish up with a greater sense of mission, purpose and direction.

They surround themselves with others, who coach, mentor them towards excellence. They pursue this goal by allowing others the permission to have an important say in how they are doing.

Dimension 6: Oriented Towards Transcendence

Lastly, integrity has to do with cultivating an awareness that there is a bigger picture that you are part of, that you as an individual or organization are a necessary jigsaw puzzle within which to fit.

This last characteristic of integrity is perhaps the hardest to achieve, because it involves a willingness of self-denial, self-correction and the ability to adjust to the demands around us.

As Dr Cloud puts it:

The immature character asks life to meet his demands. But the mature character meets the demands of life.

Action: An Integrity Audit

If you have read the above and realise there are gaps within yourself or your company, now is the time to do something about it. Don’t let the experience of the past dictate the patterns of the future. There are many good organisations which can help struggling companies and individuals make the breakthroughs they know they need to achieve.

The key thing, if you lack integrity in significant ways, is to take action. Failure to do so will invariably result (sooner or later) in negative consequences that could otherwise be changed before they look imminent and unstoppable.

You owe it to yourself, and those around you to make those changes happen.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/management-articles/integrity-in-business-1820715.html

About the Author

Dez Futak, is an online entrepreneur, business owner and teacher who devotes his time and energy helping others achieve the results they want for their business and lives.

Visit Dez’s website now if you would like to find out more about training in online marketing.

In his groundbreaking book Integrity, The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, Dr Henry Cloud outlines what he considers to be one of the most important character traits that any child can gain as they grow up. As the title suggests, the ability or skill in learning how to lose well is that character trait. Why is this? What is Henry Could wanting to communicate here?

After all, if you’ve read the book or seen the film Apollo 13, you’ll probably remember the phrase that echoes down the corridors of time, cheering us on:

"Failure is not an option!".

The tenacity, brilliance, creativity and sheer dogged determinism to save the precious lives of the astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 spacecraft will be studied and remember for decades, if not centuries.

So, is failure ever an option? What would 77 year old Gene Kranz say to Henry Cloud’s ideas?

Obviously I think they both have some valid things to say.

Here’s my angle on it: winners want to be successful in what they work at, they are not satisfied with second best. They want to achieve the best possible result for the goal they have in mind. They don’t want anything else. When winners don’t achieve their original goal however, they recognize that they have lost, but they know that they haven’t failed.

This is a very important point. Think about the last time you lost. Did you feel like a failure, coming down hard on yourself for not having achieved what you might have done had you just been that much smarter or perhaps if you had worked that bit harder….

It’s an easy thing to do.

But, and listen up here: it’s a killer way to analyze your loss. Losing is, after all, is as much part of life as winning. But in a real sense, failure is not an option, winning or losing. If Gene Kranz hadn’t managed to pull the team together, if they hadn’t been able to save the lives of their friends some 250,000 miles from home, they would have indeed lost.

But they would have done everything in their power to make a success – to get a win – out of what was understandably an almost impossible situation.

How they responded to their reality made ALL the difference.

They were tenacious, focused and determined. But they knew that success was not an automatic given.. Gene Kranz and his team of engineers, scientists and technicians also knew that their mindset would play a huge part in the chances of success, however. AND THIS IS THE KEY.

How we respond to the challenges, setbacks, lack of desired outcomes, makes all the difference to whether or not we are winners or not.

You see, I believe, we can be winners whether or not we get what we want. We might not always succeed in our goals. We might, if our lives are anything like the other billions of people on the planet, sometimes suffer hardship, pain, or disappointment.

But despite this, if we have the right mindset – if we know how to lose well – to accept that things might not always go the way we want – then we are far more likely to maintain our sense of destiny, courage, tenacity and enthusiasm for life. Whilst there is always something to be sad about in life, there are many things a grateful heart has to be thankful for.

So make it your goal to know how to lose well, to gain the type of thinking which has resilience and creativity in the face of adversity.

How do you do that? Well, the only way I know is by letting others into my space, either via my personal development through books and courses, or ultimately via the process of relationship with an important other or others. In my case, my wife, family  and my faith in God are the biggest influence on an on-going basis.

But if you have a different outlook on life, or are not in a close relationship, you can achieve a very high degree of success by surrounding yourself with a like-minded community of people who all share the same quest for wholeness (one of the six faces of integrity as Henry Cloud defines it).

Masterminding, finding a group of people with whom you can be honest with, and many other methods, can all help improve our mindset, our outlook on the world, our perception of ourselves and others.

Don’t make the mistake of confusing this with developing skills. Real winners know that the main difference between winners and failures is not skill. It’s our mindset and character.

As Jim Rohn famously said: work harder on yourself than your job. More than ever n the current economy, we know that a job is a fleeting hope for many. But real winners have the courage to face the reality of their situations and turn them to a new direction to create the circumstances for success.

They know they might not always achieve what they want. But they know how lose well.

Dez.

PS: I’ve recently started a new website called the 365 Secrets of Success Please do pay the website a visit and add your comments. Share your wisdom and insight.