Integrity, the choice between what is convenient and what is right. – Tony Dungy
Looking for Integrity
Last week I wrote Integrity – The Foundation of Highly Effective Teams. This week I spotted many examples of integrity from leaders with which I interacted. It may be related to the fact that I spent most of last week thinking about integrity and therefore was more observant of acts of integrity. Nevertheless, I did see some great examples of integrity and I want to share one today that really stood out to me.
Integrity in Competition
This past week, our commander held a leader development conference. We discussed career progression, updates on professional knowledge, and lessons learned from periodic training. In addition, we met for team building activities, to include an early morning game of “pass and go” football. The idea is that you advance the ball by passing it to your teammates. the ball is turned over through a dropped pass or interception. While it is a simple game with little at stake since this was the only time many of us would ever meet, our competitive natures came out. These unique circumstances made this show of integrity even more incredible. As we were playing the game, one individual made a diving catch. It was a beautiful sacrifice as he trapped the ball between his arms and his chest. However, most people could not see that the ball bounced off of the ground just as he did. The opposing team called “good catch” and continued to play defense. While this individual could have stood up and played on without anyone knowing, he protested and handed over the ball insisting that he did not catch it. This is a great testament to his integrity. Instead of arguing that he had caught the ball, he had to convince the rest of the players that he had not caught it.
Maintaining Your Integrity
As we progress into higher levels of responsibility, we may have less oversight resulting in more opportunities to compromise our integrity. It is those times that maintaining our integrity is more difficult yet still important. While it is easy to justify a breach of integrity by telling ourselves that no one will know, or that everyone does it, we need to realize that we are not everybody; we are leaders and others look to us to set the example. We must make the decision now to uphold our integrity in all situations, no matter what.
Can you recall a time when you could have gotten ahead by compromising one of your core values yet chose to maintain your integrity?