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Leadership Development

Integrity: How to Practice Courageous Behavior

Let’s talk about integrity. This wasn’t the topic I started to write about this month, but considering all that has transpired, it seemed timely and more than relevant.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve watched various people in many careers stepping down or undergoing an ethics review. It even has a name, “the Weinstein Effect,” after the disgraced Hollywood media mogul, Harvey Weinstein – just in case you’re that one person in a million who missed it.

Bad behavior, and in many of these case cases, illegal sexual harassment and assault, whether it happened thirty years ago or thirty minutes ago, is a crime. A crime in the sense of you go to jail and face punitive damages. A crime in that it robs another person, in most cases, a young woman, of their dignity, a sense of self, and self-respect.

People who use their power or perceived power to prey on others lack integrity. Merriam-Webster defines integrity as “a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values; incorruptibility.”

From my work with teams and managers/leaders within the Beltway and across this country, integrity is one of the first qualities people say they want in their leaders, colleagues, and organizations. Everyone says that they have it. (Do you know anyone who will say, “Nah, I don’t have any integrity”?)

If the reprehensible behavior of politicians, business leaders, religious leaders, and anyone in a position of power isn’t enough to make you angry, let’s look at the financial costs.

According to the Office of Compliance, Congress has paid out more than $17 million to victims from 1997 – 2017. These are our tax dollars. Is this how we want them to be used? To clean up after an elected official who couldn’t understand what it meant to treat a person with respect and dignity? I don’t know about you but it’s a hard NO for me.

How do we demonstrate integrity?

  • Behave honestly and ethically
    • Recognize that you are a model for those around you
    • Talk about what it means to behave ethically
    • Challenge systems and people that encourage dishonesty
    • Provide facts, cite data-driven websites and resources
  • Maintain high standards of ethical behavior
    • Discuss ethical concerns at work and in your personal life
    • Be honest and fair with your feedback to people
    • Be consistent in your behavior
    • Do what you say you will
  • Practice courageous behavior
    • Speak out against racist, sexist, and other abusive comments and behavior
    • Be willing to take risks and stand up for what you believe in
    • Show empathy and communicate from a position of respect for all
    • Stand up for what is right, and don’t allow others to be thrown under the proverbial bus when you know it’s wrong

I don’t know how we got this far away from coming from a position of integrity – but I will actively work towards moving back to it.

Will you join me?

This article first appeared in Prince William Living Magazine

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