Career Development

What is Integrity? Definition and Examples

May 6, 2021

Integrity is the ability to tell right from wrong, treat people with respect, and make ethical choices. It's an essential workplace skill and valued by employers, colleagues, clients and others in your professional network. Exhibiting integrity builds healthy working relationships because team members feel respected and know they can rely on one another. This creates an inclusive work environment that fosters productivity and success.

In this article, we look further at what integrity is, traits related to integrity, and how you can display or improve it.

Related: A Guide to Soft Skills

What is integrity?

Integrity is being able to act honourably, even when no one is watching. Having integrity means you value good morals and ethics and follow them in every aspect of your life. Integrity is important when you're interacting with friends, colleagues, helping customers and makes a good first impression when meeting new people.

Employers value employees with integrity because they contribute to a positive, welcoming workplace. They take pride in what they do and provide high-quality work, which encourages those around them to do the same. Employees with integrity are trustworthy and can work independently without supervision.

Character traits related to integrity

Several components and personal traits define integrity. For example, to have integrity you must be both honest and responsible. Here's a deeper look at some key character traits and attributes shared among people with integrity:

Honesty

One of the most important traits a person with integrity needs is honesty. Honesty means being truthful and transparent in any situation. It's especially helpful at work as it shows your employers you can acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them.

To improve or develop your honesty, pay attention to your feelings and express them. For example, be honest with your team members about your ability to complete a task on time for a project. Employers value employees who are honest because they can trust them to do the right thing.

Trustworthiness

Honesty and trustworthiness are two qualities that go hand in hand. For people to trust you, you must be honest. Exhibit trustworthiness by following through on your commitments and being reliable. Employers and colleagues appreciate working with someone they can depend on to finish their tasks on time. Similarly, if your company trusts you with sensitive information, like customer records or financial portfolios, practice integrity and trustworthiness by keeping that information private.

When expressing your trustworthiness, actions speak louder than words. Show your employers and colleagues they can trust you by being reliable to strengthen your relationships. Healthy company cultures exist where team members feel they can trust each other.

Respect

Being respectful is vital to exhibiting integrity. You need to show respect for people, but you can also show your respect in other ways. For example, if your employer trusts you with a laptop, take good care of the equipment to show your respect. If you have a meeting with your team, arriving early or on time shows your colleagues you respect their valuable time.

One way to earn respect is to be kind. Practice active listening skills to let people know you value their opinions. Encourage, motivate and include your colleagues, and acknowledge their accomplishments. Mutual respect is important for building professional relationships. Always be kind and respectful to others, and they will respect you as well.

Pride

Being proud of yourself and your work relates to having integrity. If you have integrity, you take pride in everything you do and will work hard to reach your goals. Having pride shows that you care about your work and you're committed to doing the best you can. Employers look for employees they can rely on to work hard and produce high-quality work.

Pride relates to your self-esteem. To improve it, you need to believe in yourself and your abilities. Build your confidence by taking a course to improve your professional skills. Feeling proud of your abilities and the work you produce develops integrity and fosters career success.

Responsibility

Another aspect of integrity is being responsible. If you act responsibly, people are more likely to trust and look up to you. Those with integrity take responsibility for their actions and follow through on promises and commitments. Being responsible is a great way to show employers your leadership skills and makes you more likely to earn a promotion.

Similar to trustworthiness, the best way to show you're responsible is through your actions. If your employer gives you extra responsibilities, ensure you complete them on time. Only take on more responsibilities you can handle. Being honest about your capacity to manage extra work is important to ensure all your work meets a high standard. It's an important character trait to exercise in both your professional and personal life.

Related: How to Include Character Traits in a Resume

Patient

Employers value employees who are patient, can adapt to changes and work through challenges. Being patient involves giving other people a chance to speak or take on a task. It means supporting your colleagues and helping them with their responsibilities when you can. Patience requires you to slow down, even in a fast-paced environment, but improves your work ethic and shows integrity. Relax by meditating at night or taking regular walks to clear your mind. This will make you more patient at work and allow you to remain calm and reliable.

Gratitude

Expressing your gratitude when someone helps you is an important part of having integrity. It shows that you appreciate others and the effort they put into helping you. Showing gratitude can be as simple as saying thank you in person or via e-mail, or acknowledging someone's efforts. Letting your colleagues know you're grateful is an excellent way to exhibit integrity. It also strengthens your relationships and tells them you can rely on one another.

Related: How to Practice Gratitude While Working Remotely

How to display integrity in the workplace

Displaying integrity in the workplace is a key factor in creating a positive, healthy work environment. It shows your employers and colleagues that you're capable, reliable and trustworthy. It also develops professional relationships which have several benefits, including increased overall job satisfaction. Here are some ways you can display integrity in your workplace:

1. Arrive on time and ready to work

Arriving at work early or on time shows your employer and colleagues that you respect their time and commitments. If there's a reason you're going to be late or unable to work, be sure to tell your manager with enough notice so that they can prepare for your absence.

2. Be positive

Positivity is an essential aspect of showing your friends, family, and professional network that you have integrity. It encourages your colleagues to be positive as well, creating an inviting workplace with happy and motivated employees.

3. Hold yourself accountable

Holding yourself accountable for your mistakes or your part in a task is essential. It shows that you have enough integrity to admit when you're wrong, learn from your errors and move forward. It also gives your employer a reason to trust that you will do the right thing, no matter who's watching.

4. Improve your work ethic

Completing your work in advance or meeting deadlines shows employers that you have integrity and a strong work ethic. It expresses your commitment to your work and makes you a more reliable employee.

5. Respect property

Employers often give you the tools you need to complete your work, such as a desk, a computer, office supplies or a printer. It's important that you respect this property. Take care of your work equipment and always use it for professional, not personal use. This builds trust and is another excellent way to prove you have integrity.

6. Follow company policies

Companies create policies to keep their employees and customers safe. Policies also create an efficient, professional and welcoming work environment. Ensuring you and your colleagues follow these policies at all times is a great way to express your integrity.

Examples of integrity

Here are some examples of ways to display integrity in your personal and professional life:

  • Be honest with your friends, family and colleagues
  • Keep secrets and sensitive information to yourself
  • Follow through on your promises to others
  • Hold people around you accountable
  • Give credit to those who help you, deserve recognition and contribute to maintaining a positive work environment
  • Lead by example and always do the right thing
  • Be respectful in moments of conflict or disagreement
  • Exercise patience and keep calm in challenging situations
  • Report inappropriate or unethical behaviour if you see it
  • Be kind without expecting recognition or a reward

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