Integrity is paramount for long term individual and organizational success.
We hire who we are. We get what we hire. Fail to make integrity a real requirement for entering the organization and guess who applies? Hire without a genuine focus on integrity and guess what you’ll get? Legal and regulatory problems, the departure of good employees, a public relations mess and a damaged reputation, and lost revenue and unhappy customers will be your status quo.
One employee is an incident. Several employees are a culture. Ethically compromised organizations never see the problem. Instead, they attract them.
Companies either learn or change is forced on them or they go out of business. No one keeps doing business with people they cannot trust. Few people want to work at a company where employees cannot trust their supervisor or co-workers. If the culture of the company stays the same so will their hiring, promotions, and scandals.
Leaders are responsible for organizational culture. They are the culture creators and carriers. If it is tolerated, it is because leadership permits it. If it is rewarded, it is explained by leadership choosing to promote them.
Culture controls. New policies and procedures will always be defeated by culture. Ethically challenged employees simply do not follow policies and procedures. Their attitudes and actions are explained by the culture.
Recruit, hire, onboard, train, supervise, evaluate, and promote for integrity. Mixed messages create a bad culture. If character is foremost, leaders must be clear and consistent in everything they say and do. Character is about consistency and so is culture. Leaders must model ethical thinking, decision-making, and behavior. As leaders, you are the message. What you say and do will be repeated and replicated. Creating and sustaining a culture of ethical responsibility is critical.
It is as predictable as the Law of Gravity. When an individual without integrity gets in or goes up, the organization eventually goes down. It can take months or years, but it always ends the same: badly. Any short-term gains will be easily erased by much larger long-term losses. Organizations begin to author their own obituary the moment they choose leaders and employees without integrity as a defining standard.