Integrity Matters – Not Just in Politics
I’ve been sitting back watching political events unfold post the NATO summit Europe – which is equal parts news and entertainment. Listening to the commentary on the latest meeting of foreign leaders, and the public’s reaction, it got me thinking a lot about integrity. Each of us is personally responsible for our own integrity and how we hold true to our values. In public relations, it can sometimes be a fine line to walk between doing your job and staying true to your values.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Early in my career, I felt it was my job to tell ALL the stories of the organization that was signing my paycheck. At times I had to write a communications plan and justify the organization’s position on a issue, even though I felt the organization was in the wrong. Don’t worry, it didn’t involve anything illegal. But, at times, the position I was asked to defend was against my core values.
After a few uncomfortable situations, I took stock of what I would and would not support. I took the time to get clear on what I valued. And guess what? When I was asked to defend or justify a position I felt was wrong I said no. The first time I did this I felt sick about it. But once I had said no, I could not work on something that I wholeheartedly disagreed with, I felt a huge burden lift off my shoulders.
It was at this moment I realized the importance of maintaining my integrity. It was a turning point in my career. Even though I was in a senior position at a large organization, and only in my early 30s, I realized I needed to quit my job to preserve my integrity.
I understood I am the only person who could preserve, or destroy, my integrity. Both my actions and inactions speaks volumes about who I am as a person, what I believe in and what I don’t believe in.
This also meant saying no to jobs (some high paying) that were not inline with my core values. But guess what it’s also brought? A career and work I’m proud of.
This doesn’t mean my values aren’t tested from time to time. And I have since quit jobs or consulting work that threatened to compromise my integrity. However, I am now able to see the red flags much sooner and have more confidence standing up for my values.
I challenge you to think about what you stand for – as a person and a professional? What are your core values? How do you let others know what you stand for? And when have you stood up for these values?
When you look back on the work you’ve done, will you be proud of how you stood true to your values? Or will you have regrets?
We are all personally responsible for upholding our integrity. At the end of the day, we will be remembered for how we held true to our values, and followed our moral compass – or how we went astray.
And if you doubt this to be true, just read some of the latest headlines on political leaders. You will quickly see who leads with integrity, who doesn’t and how they are perceived (and judged) by others.