Everyday Ethics and Integrity

Most of us in leadership roles have participated in numerous ethics workshops, training and coursework. Often, the case study scenarios presented seem like events that only occur on the big screen or appear in obscure internet headlines. Other times the answers seem to be common sense and you wonder who wouldn’t make the “right” decision. If our scruples were tested, most of us would return the lost wallet enclosing $1000 and fortunately, most of us will never have to be a whistleblower in our organizations.

So what do ethics and integrity look like in the life of an everyday leader? For me, it means living a life congruent with my values.

  • Work for an organization that reflects your values. When I first started my career, a mentor told me that when doing a job search learn about the mission and values of an organization and only work for organizations that were congruent with your values. This strategy ignited passion for my work and has kept me in work environments where I experience happiness. When work is challenging its alignment and passion that will keep you moving forward.
  • Keep your work aligned with the values of your organization. As leaders in our organizations we balance numerous responsibilities and have multiple performance goals we try to meet. Throw in the unexpected challenges that inevitably occur and prioritization becomes a regular conundrum. Your organization’s values can be the beacon of your work. Evaluate alignment with mission and values to determine the importance of tasks at hand. When identifying strategies for goal achievement, ensure strategies reflect the values of your organization to maintain organizational integrity.
  • Live a life that reflects your priorities. This is ongoing challenge for me. Family and a healthy lifestyle are important values to me but when my work life gets busy these are the areas of my life that get impacted first. In an effort to be more congruent I make time for lunches and walks in the evening. I’m trying to be present when I’m with loved ones by leaving my phone out of sight and avoiding the urge to look at every email as it arrives on my phone.

Ralph Waldo Emerson shared this on character. “Who you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying.” When I started work in my first administrative role I was reminded by a mentor that my team would observe my work schedule and work practices to determine what was expected of them. He said that my actions would communicate expectations that might be different what was documented on paper. Role modeling personal congruence can have a powerful impact on the well-being of our organizations. I challenge you to “walk your personal talk” with the same importance that we give to staying true to the values of our workplaces.


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