Article by: Charissa Bloomberg / Celebrity Psychologist 


“Integrity costs nothing, but when you lose it, you lose everything.”

 

Charissa Bloomberg

 

A reputation can take years to build, yet only moments to destroy.

And once you’ve lost that hard won trust and credibility, the road to recovery is long and difficult. You may never, in fact, gain back all the ground you lost.

In the world of business, memories are long.

So why then, is integrity such a seldom practiced and woefully undervalued trait?

And why is it even necessary to have to emphasise the critical importance of instilling integrity conscious skills, and building resistance to temptation, in our employees?

Where does our country stand on the integrity meter today? How about the world? What are we going to do about it? If we don’t do something, what is in store for us?” Prof Thuli Madonsela at Bloomberg’s Integrity Lapse event (Nov 2018)

And what is in store for our economy when business leaders or employees fail to act with integrity at critical moments?

Can Your Organisation Afford The Cost of An Integrity Lapse?

South Africans are no strangers to the fallout that happens within an organisation when its people act without integrity.

In many cases, the ramifications of unethical leadership are still being felt years after the initial transgressions took place. Changes at the helm, and promises of prosecution, might do a little to repair the damage.

But a full reversal?

Unlikely.

The worrying thing is, the rot often starts in minor ways:

An employee promising to deliver by a certain date, and then not keeping their word.

Little white lies to excuse poor service.

A general lack of accountability.

Taken as isolated incidents, they may not seem to tear too savagely at the fabric of a company’s integrity. But if condoned, if left unchecked to grow and become more invasive, these small lapses fester and mutate.

They grow like a cancer, unseen yet deadly, until the entire organisation runs on an ethos of deception and lies.

In this kind of environment, it’s not hard to see why corruption, theft and misappropriation of funds are all just part of “the way we do business.”

Once you pass that point of no return, there is no turning back.

We live, and businesses operate, under the relentless gaze of social media.

It is a world to which there is no barrier to entry.

One bad review, one whistle-blowing article, and your company can quickly find itself in the international spotlight.

There is no wiggle room.

Organisations have to start including integrity awareness and training so every employee, from top management down, knows exactly what’s expected of them.

Why Are Ethics And Integrity So Rare?

We live in a world where the culture of instant gratification is so ingrained in us that it’s frighteningly easy to make decisions without any consideration for the consequences.

In other words, it’s much quicker and easier to act without ethics or integrity.

Because behaving ethically takes work.

It means evaluating every decision we make, and every interaction we have. It requires us to ask ourselves if what we’re about to do or say feels right. Is it helpful to others? Will it hurt anyone? Will we benefit at a cost to someone else?

People often talk about the “structural integrity of buildings.” This refers to how well a building is made. Has it been built according to sound engineering principles? Is it safe to live or work in. Will it still stand after a storm?

We wouldn’t dream about working in a building that was not structurally safe. Yet millions of people work in companies that have no certification of assurance of the integrity of their people.

Can integrity be taught?

Yes. But to do so, we need to raise awareness of how to self-reflect. And how to make the right, conscious decisions every day.

There is a definite need for more integrity-based leadership training roll-outs, not only at a corporate level within organisations, but also at universities and schools.

We recently launched our first training at the University of Johannesburg’s hospitality department with great success.

Students were required to complete integrity assignments in communities, and we are now busy training integrity ambassadors.

There’s no doubt organisations and universities can be shown how to roll out integrity as a strategic driver of success.

Together with iFacts, we are proud to launch our 10 online Integrity Modules.

To book, go to www.ifacts.co.za

Charissa Bloomberg is a Celebrity Psychologist regularly appearing on South African Radio and Television. She has 22 years of experience facilitating within organizations and is an integrity leadership specialist. For comments and queries regarding integrity in the workplace, email: cb@hiddendimensions.co.za website www.integrityforum.co.za