An abridged version of a 2008 essay by Tania Melnyczuk
The best long-term strategy for getting people to trust you is to be trustworthy. There is a close link between the concepts of “integrity” and “integration”, and this link is not merely etymological. In order to save, maintain or build a business (or a state department, a charity, a family or nation, for that matter) we must realise that it’s not just about integrating what we do with what we profess, but also about integrating every one thing we do with every other thing we do.
When we speak about buildings or cars, we speak about “structural integrity”: the various parts must work together in such a way that they support each other. Without that integrity, the vehicle or edifice becomes dangerous to its users or to anyone who happens to be nearby.
We endanger our customers, employees and suppliers if we do not do things in an integrated manner. We place the budget, the time-frame and the scope of a project at risk if we are not able to manage in an integrated way.
Since business strategy is driven through projects, poor project management is very bad for business. If we do not provide our employees with integrated systems based on integrated trans-functional business strategies, we make it difficult for our employees to keep promises to customers. We thus force them to compromise their personal integrity, and our own integrity as leaders becomes questionable. Does that which you produce integrate with the claims you make in your marketing materials? Do your systems and processes provide you with the capability of going the extra mile for the customer, if that’s what your value statement says you are prepared to do? Do your business functions integrate? Do you have integrity?
Integrity comes from integration. Integration comes from integrity. Every human being has a personal battle with hypocrisy, and we choose to fight this battle in different ways. Some set lofty goals for themselves, and live in constant confession of their imperfections and their need for God. Others make the same lofty claims about what they believe, yet are not prepared to entertain any counter-claims based on the evidence of their actions. Still others present themselves up front as thoroughly amoral, so that no-one can be disappointed.
In business, and in government, and in all other organisations, the same constant battle with hypocrisy plays itself out on a collective scale. It never stops, and it should never stop, because even if we achieve all we claim to be, complacency will destroy us.
Integrity requires maintenance, and we all have maintenance to do.