How realistic is it to expect integrity from other people in the knowledge that it is almost impossible for us to maintain our own integrity? Sure, it is easy to maintain a high level of integrity as long as it doesn’t hurt or doesn’t cost money. But what do we do the moment our integrity stands in the way of a lot of money or a promotion or keeping our job? We don’t always realize it, but we do ‘stretch’ our integrity quite often.
Let me give you some examples.
Sales reps have a tendency to stretch their integrity to the max and beyond when it comes to closing deals:
“The customer is always right”. Sales people will almost never contradict a customer out of fear for losing the deal.
Customers can be rude. Very rude. I have seen sales people accepting behavior from customers that they would not accept from family or close friends. All integrity down the drain, just for money.
Every sales rep (including myself) has sold his product/service, despite that he was fully aware of the fact that a competitor had something better to offer. Did I tell the customer to take his business elsewhere after he agreed to our proposition? Hell no, that would have cost me my commission!
Managers stretch their integrity as well, almost daily:
An employee asks about his career chances. The manager answers:”In our organization, everything is possible for ambitious and motivated people.” It is a carrot on a stick, instead of telling how it is out of fear that the employee might leave.
Relaying a not so popular message to their employees, emphasizing that they don’t like it either, but it’s the boss’ decision. That’s unethical and cowardly behavior, not to say that it shows very poor management skills.
These are just a few examples of stretching integrity. We start selling our integrity when our ‘normal’ level of integrity will cost us money, respect, reputation or whatever is of value to us.
I don’t trust on somebody’s integrity, mainly because I don’t trust my own integrity. I know for sure if I had to choose between my principles and integrity on one side and going broke on the other side, my principles and integrity would fly out of the window faster than you can blink your eyes. And I bet that the same goes for the vast majority of us.