The Absolute Importance of Integrity

Are you a person with integrity? Seems like an easy question to answer, but is it?

Integrity means having a set of values and sticking to them, no matter what.

So to start with you have to have a set of values. Values are those things that you hold most important in your life. They form the foundation of an authentic life. Lots of people say they have values but do they really?

It’s easy to say you value honesty but then be less than honest when you think the situation warrants it. In a professional setting you may not be completely honest with a client about the fees, scope of work or issues you may face hoping that somehow it won’t be exposed along the way.

It’s easy to say you value family but then work long hours at the expense of time with the family. What about saying you value an author’s right to copyright then sharing copyrighted works with others? Saying your business is driven by helping the customer then being driven by the need to generate fees? Saying you value openness then participating in gossip? These are just some of the many examples that test our integrity.

Shared values are what bring people together. A high functioning professional team needs to have shared values and be led by a leader who demonstrates those values. A group of friends is held together by their shared values that form the way they see the world. If you don’t stick to those values then people will know you are not a person of integrity and they may choose to take their business or friendship elsewhere.

Be aware that having integrity means you will lose things sometimes – you will lose contracts because you have been absolutely honest about the issues and the pricing, you will lose friends because you don’t share their values, and you may chose not to go into business with someone because you do not see your primary purpose in the same way. These losses are real, and they will be uncomfortable. The long term benefits outweigh the short term losses. You will develop  a reputation as someone who can be trusted, someone who is authentic and you will eventually end up surrounded by those who share you values driven outlook on life.

So if you want to be a person of integrity then you have to stick to your values no matter what. Start the process by explicitly stating what or values are, write them down if it helps. I met someone a few years ago now, who printed their values out on a small piece of cardboard that fit inside his wallet and he carried them around with him. Remind yourself of your values in all your decisions. Be prepared for the consequences – you may have to change your stated values if you don’t like the consequences.

In a professional setting look to the code of ethics set out by your professional association. If you are a project manager then you should read, remember and act on the standards in the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct ( ) at all times.

Most importantly, be a person with integrity. As Dr Seuss’s Horton the Elephant said “I meant what I said and I said what I meant…an elephant’s faithful 100%.”


Here is a great follow up article from another site