September 18, 2019

Integrity is Not a Moral Compass

Shawna Corden

Shawna Corden
Executive Coach/Shawna Corden Coaching

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Integrity: the state of being whole and undivided.

"upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty"



"the integrity of the federation"

In other words: intact. 

I approve of the other definition as well, but it’s too subject to rationalization and justification.  I like the coaching use of the word better as what matters is how you feel.  We all want to feel whole.  Anytime you feel pulled apart by opposing factions, you are out of integrity.  The way I describe it to my clients? Anytime you are behaving in a way that is contrary to your values.  This might be company values, which is why culture fit is so important, (and poorly considered in hiring (inho)) or personal values.

A big challenge I find with my clients is that they love to have things fully completed before moving on to the next challenge.  Check the boxes, cross the t’s etc.  Unfortunately, with the pace that high-tech and other industries move, the company rarely values ‘completing’ work fully.  The analogy I use is ‘they’d rather have you do three projects at 80% than, one or two at 100%’ Believe me, this is not a popular reality.  Because this conflicts with their values – this situation puts them out of integrity.  They have two options:  one, get comfortable with a workplace that values volume over completeness and seek the completeness in their personal lives, two-(which isn’t realistic for most people) is to move to a position or company that shares the same value of completeness.  

If you find yourself in a situation of not being ‘intact’ or out of integrity, you may not notice it right away (as opposed to boundaries where most people feel quite a pinch!)  I see it manifested as headaches, fatigue, stomachaches etc.  It is not until people have analyzed their environment that they recognize the disconnect.   

What to do?  First, get clear about your own values.  Most people tick off family, friends, etc. but to understand them in a weighted sense, I have two go-to questions:

  1. What absolutely drives you crazy? This can be anything like poor drivers, rude people, bad fashion choices, you name it.  The likelihood is the opposite is a strong value.
  2. If you found yourself with a surprise bundle of cash, or a free day on your calendar (say you found money in a winter coat you hadn’t worn for a while, or you showed up to work and the power was out- so they sent you home) what would you do with that time or money?

The answer might be different on a different day, but generally the pattern would be the same.  Self-care, gifts, hobbies, catching up on responsibilities etc.  Those all reflect your personal values. 

Try honoring these values with special intent in the coming week.  Note ways where your lifestyle or workplace is out of integrity for you.  Make a list- are there requests you can make in the workplace?  A great way might be a volunteer day (many companies fund up to four hours a week giving back to your community) or through matching donations.  What about team culture?  Implement a new tradition that honors team member’s values. Or rotate the team member’s value each month that you’ll exemplify.  There is a lot of room to incorporate your values in your workplace as well as honoring the company’s published values.   The more they overlap, the less opportunity for you to be out of integrity.

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