Honesty, integrity, values - not optional

512 reads

A dejected father confided in his pastor with a problem:  his youngster had been caught cheating on a test at school.  He was crushed, feeling like he had failed as a father, concerned it would saddle the child with a reputation for dishonesty.

"The worst thing that can happen to a youngster starting school," said the father, "is to get caught cheating."

"Not at all," said the clergyman, "the worst thing at the start of a person's life is to cheat and NOT get caught."

What is a good parent's main job?  The days of simply supporting the family financially may be over, according to a Pew Research Center report.  Asked what's "extremely important" for a father to provide, a telephone survey of 1,004 American adults got these findings:

  • Values and morals: 58 percent
  • Emotional support:  52 percent
  • Discipline:  47 percent
  • Income:  41 percent

The results follow a similar trend for mothers, with "values and morals" at the top and "income" coming in last. 

Every time dishonesty wins, it gets harder to convince our children that honesty is the best policy.  Complete honesty in little things is not a little thing at all.

Honesty, ethics, integrity, values, morals - all mean the same thing.  In my estimation, you can interchange them, because they all convey the single attribute that determines whether a person or an organization can be trusted.  

On the heels of recurrent tales of corruption in most every aspect of modern life, it is a commonly accepted fact that ethics are what each of us thinks other people should apply.  The challenge we all face is that we cannot fudge on our own set of ethics and values, even when it is extremely tempting.  That is the kiss of death.

Peter Drucker, the late management guru, once said, "There is no such thing as business ethics - there is only ethics."

My good friend, world-renowned leadership guru John Maxwell makes the same point in his book "There's No Such Thing As Business Ethics."  John gives three reasons why people make unethical choices.  First, people tend to do what's most convenient.  They fall into the trap of doing what's easy, but not necessarily what's right.  Second, people do whatever it takes to win; what they call "win at any cost."  If it's a choice between winning by being unethical, or being ethical and perhaps losing - then ethics loses.  Third, he refers to situational ethics.  People rationalize their choices with relativism.  They make their choices based on whatever seems right at the time. 

That's why it is critical that every company and organization has a defined code of ethics. 

According to "Inc.com," a code of ethics is a collection of principles and practices that a business believes in and aims to live by.  A code of business ethics usually doesn't stand alone, it works in conjunction with a company's mission statement and more specific policies about conduct to give employees, partners, vendors, and outsiders an idea of what the company stands for and how its members should conduct themselves.

"The key in distinguishing a code of ethics from these other documents is to hit the right level of specificity.  It should address both the particular nuances of the company's industry as well as its broader goals for social responsibility and should be concrete enough to serve as a guide for employees in a quandary without laying out rules for every situation that could arise."

Michael Connor, the editor and publisher of the online magazine "Business Ethics," believes that there's no such thing as a business being too small to benefit from a code of ethics. Having a code is "often viewed as a luxury or something that is an added cost," he says. "The reality these days is that the business that does not have a code of ethics subjects itself to a much greater risk in its day-to-day operations and if there is an unfortunate incident, they expose themselves to much greater risk [from] regulatory and prosecutorial authorities."

Ethics codes don't have to be long, complex documents.  One example of a simple statement of ethics was written in 1904 for Rotary International.  Apply these four questions to everything your organization says or does:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it fair to everyone concerned?
  • Will it build good will and better relationships?
  • Will it benefit everyone concerned?

Mackay's Moral:  If truth stands in your way, you're headed in the wrong direction.


jackcanfield's picture

Activating the Power of the Subconscious Mind

The untapped power of the subconscious mind can lead you to new success in your personal life and business life. Discovering how to turn your thoughts into positive and implementing the law of attraction into your daily life can take you to new
pradyumnanag's picture

How is it cheaper for Google to buy Groupon than internally build something like it?

 May be covered in some answers already by some fantastic answers.Just elucidating instead of replying on each of the posts. Though I may have my own personal reservations on the business model per se, they have been able to achieve something
changethis's picture

Willpower Is an Outdated Model of Success: Here’s the Future of Self-improvement

“It’s no wonder willpower has been placed under the media spotlight as essential to success. In a negative environment, willpower’s all we have left. It’s the life-raft, the backup parachute. And we’re depending on it to save our skins. It takes a


harvardbusinessreview's picture

How to Use Employee Referrals Without Giving Up Workplace Diversity

Incentivize employees to refer more women and people of color.
changethis's picture

A Better Business through a Great Place to Work for All

“What it means to be a great workplace has evolved. We have entered a new era, a new frontier in business. Our economy has evolved through agrarian, industrial, and ‘knowledge’ phases to the point where the essential qualities of human beings—things
danielhpink's picture

This is the secret to making better decisions

Hey, Hubspot and I just released two new episodes of the 1-3-20 Podcast.As you might recall, the podcast's name describes its format. In each episode I talk to the author of 1 book. I ask her 3 key questions (What’s the big idea? Why should I care?


jackcanfield's picture

How to Lead a Successful Training Workshop

If you want to become a successful thought leader, author, speaker, or simply share your message with the world, you must understand how to lead a successful training workshop. I am going to share with you my very own process – what we call The
Ron Kaufman's picture

Why Business Leaders Must Attend Service Training

The most common question we hear when launching service excellence training programs inside large organizations is: “Do leaders really need to attend these workshops?” This raises a different and more important question for senior leaders: Do you
richardbranson's picture

Here’s How to Overcome Embarrassment and Improve Your Self-Confidence

The Fear of Embarrassment IQ Matrix will help you to take control and eventually overcome the feelings of embarrassment you may experience in awkward situations. The article explores what it means to be embarrassed; highlights causes of