Every positive work environment is built upon trust, respect, and honesty. Integrity is the cornerstone of this culture. It is an essential value that managers, leaders, team members, and supervisors must uphold. To foster a thriving work culture based on integrity, everyone needs to act in a way that creates an environment where good behavior is encouraged and rewarded. As a leader or manager, to lead with integrity means setting standards for ethical behaviors to become deeply rooted within the workplace culture.
What is integrity?
Integrity is an uncompromising exhibiting of honesty, moral principles, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and consistency in your beliefs, words, and actions.
It is an unwavering adherence to what you know in your heart is right and being honest, even in difficult situations or even when it may be more expedient to be dishonest or unethical. Integrity allows us to stand behind our words confidently, knowing we have nothing to hide.
In essence, exhibiting integrity means you can rely on yourself to do what is right — authentically — all the time.
Why is integrity important?
The most important aspect of integrity is upholding the highest level of personal honesty at all times, regardless of any potential consequences that may arise due to transparency in your character.
Honesty does not always lead to favorable outcomes but allows you to live with a clear conscience even when facing difficult situations.
For many people, practicing integrity is a source of pride since it demonstrates that your values are not swayed easily — particularly when you face external pressures or temptations that can threaten your ethical judgment.
People who exhibit strong levels of personal integrity often have greater self-confidence knowing that their decisions line up with their internal guiding principles or beliefs irrespective of whatever environment they find themselves in.
Integrity eliminates the rewards of manipulative behaviors like lying, cheating, stealing, and taking advantage of others.
What does integrity mean in the workplace?
Integrity in the workplace means behaving ethically and honestly. This means making decisions based on fairness and respect for everyone, even if they may not always be easy or popular decisions.
It also means holding yourself and others accountable to a set of standards or principles everyone agrees upon. Here are 14 examples of integrity:
1. Cancelling a client meeting because of ethical issues
Good examples of integrity include canceling a client meeting at the last minute because you realized that you would be unable to represent the company ethically.
It is always important to prioritize your professional morals and values above the potential financial gains from continuing with the meeting.
By acting in this manner, you demonstrate your commitment to ensuring business practices and decisions align with a moral code of conduct.
And taking such responsibility for adherence to ethical standards also prevents potential legal issues and provides peace of mind for both yourself and your company or clients.
2. Being honest with customers
Be honest with customers, even if it means losing their business, because it builds trust and credibility in the long run.
Honesty also gives you a competitive edge since customers will appreciate your commitment to integrity when making purchasing decisions.
Honesty also helps protect your reputation and avoid negative publicity. You may lose a customer or two by being honest, but the long-term benefits of building a culture of honesty among your consumers outweigh those potential losses.
Furthermore, it gives potential new customers an understanding of how this company conducts itself, providing evidence for possible future partnerships or transactions.
Finally, honesty produces a sense of security among those who engage with your brand name, making them feel more confident about its authenticity — something any company should aim for.
3. Refusing to cut corners or engage in dishonest behavior
Refusing to cut corners or engaging in dishonest behavior can lead to severe repercussions. Dishonesty can take on many forms, from taking shortcuts to save time, money, or energy to lying about accomplishments or qualifications for personal gain.
While it may be tempting to take the quick and easy route by engaging in the dishonesty of any kind, it is essential to remember the long-term consequences that this action could have — not only on you but on those around you.
Acting ethically provides peace of mind and builds a strong foundation of trustworthiness and respect among peers.
When faced with the temptation of cutting corners or engaging in dishonest behavior, say “No” and stand firm in your decision — it will pay off more than you know.
If you do not, it will destroy your reputation as an honest person or make people question your integrity.
Read also: 15 Examples of Taking Ownership
4. Resisting the urge to gossip about coworkers
One of the cornerstones of workplace integrity is refraining from engaging in gossip and slanderous behavior.
Gossiping about coworkers or managers can heavily damage trust, destroy morale, and create an atmosphere in which employees feel unsafe.
Beyond being unprofessional, gossiping can also lead to severe ramifications for making false statements or spreading unfounded rumors about colleagues and could result in straight dismissal.
5. Following through on commitments
Life is a series of commitments, and following through on them, even when inconvenient, can be incredibly beneficial for us and those around us.
When we commit to doing something, it implies that we have agreed with someone else or have set a goal for ourselves.
It is important to remember that the commitments we make in life are not just mere words — they are proof of our promises.
In other words, our word carries weight beyond empty promises — that when we say something will happen (or won’t), there is a greater assurance behind those words than just idle talk.
So, if you develop a reputation as someone who follows through on your commitments, people will trust and respect you more, no matter how inconvenient.
6 Facing difficult conversations head-on
In the workplace, facing difficult conversations head-on means that when issues arise, you are ready to tackle them without delay.
Difficult conversations are inevitable in the work environment and can include anything from disagreements to addressing poor performance or misconduct.
No matter how uncomfortable these conversations might be, they must be addressed to ensure no potential for escalation. So, facing difficult conversations head-on benefits everyone in the long run.
7. Turning down an unfair promotion
Turning down a promotion is something only some people would consider doing for any reason. Still, when it comes to ethical considerations, taking advantage of your colleagues can be a significant factor.
From a moral standpoint, turning down a promotion because it would mean taking advantage of your colleagues is the right thing to do.
In other words, if accepting a promotion gives you an unfair advantage over someone more qualified than you, then turn it down.
We have an ethical responsibility to ensure fair treatment for those around us and create equitable opportunities for all employees whenever possible.
8. Admitting you made a mistake
When you admit your mistakes, you own up to them and show that honesty and humility are essential values.
Taking responsibility for your actions shows that you are willing to learn from your past experiences to improve.
It also reinforces a culture of accountability by setting an example that encourages others to be honest about their missteps.
Ultimately, admitting mistakes can be seen as a sign of strength rather than weakness. When you look inwardly at your behavior or performance without fear of repercussions, you will inevitably develop greater self-awareness.
9. Reporting a bribe to your manager immediately
Bribes can put employees in a difficult position, especially when they are expected to offer something of value or look the other way. But immediately reporting a bribe to your team leader or manager is the right thing to do.
Integrity in the workplace means being honest and transparent, and bribery undermines those values.
Taking a bribe not only compromises your integrity but degrades the entire work culture as well. It can lead to more corruption and distrust of leadership, eroding confidence in policies and procedures.
Reporting a bribe or any potential illicit activity shows that you are committed to upholding ethical standards at your workplace. It also eliminates potential conflicts of interest, which can negatively impact morale and productivity in the long run.
10. Defending a wrongly accused coworker
Good integrity examples include speaking out when wrongful behavior occurs and standing firm on ethical principles despite pressure from your manager or colleagues to compromise them.
Defending a coworker being wrongly accused of something shows your moral fiber of courage and strength.
Being loyal and standing up for someone demonstrates a commitment to fairness, honesty, and trustworthiness that reflects on everyone in the workplace.
It shows that you are willing to put aside personal or professional biases for the greater good of your team and support each other through difficult times.
Integrity in the workplace is not just about following rules but also about standing up for what you believe is right.
Read also: 16 Examples of Taking Responsibility at Work
11. Not taking advantage of company policies
Show respect for company policies and do not exploit any loopholes or weaknesses. Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching, which also extends to following company rules and regulations.
Taking advantage of vulnerable policies can damage a company’s reputation, create an imbalance between employees, and weaken trust among colleagues.
Moreover, it is simply unethical to exploit a policy that you know could be abused by someone else. Also, remember that following the company policies allows for maintaining healthy relationships within the workplace — acting otherwise can put those relationships at risk.
12. Correcting wrongdoing even if it puts you in danger
One of the most potent examples of ethical behavior is when you challenge or correct what is wrong, even if doing so may put you in harm’s way or result in retaliatory action from those who disagree with your decisions.
It could be something as simple as pointing out an accounting discrepancy or calling attention to safety violations in a workplace.
It is not easy to stand up for what you believe in or call out wrongdoings when you know there could be consequences — yet it is essential if we want to keep our workplaces honest and prosperous.
No matter how intimidating or frightening a situation might feel, exercising your moral judgment is usually necessary for fairness and justice to prevail — so do not let fear win.
13. Refusing to cheat on your expense reports
One excellent example of integrity includes refusing to cheat on your expense reports, even though everyone around you is doing it.
When you engage in practices like cheating on your expense reports, it can damage your professional reputation and may ultimately lead to disciplinary action.
People with solid integrity usually act as role models for others, setting an example for anyone around them. And that means being honest, ethical, and trustworthy with yourself and others in the workplace.
When you refuse to commit unethical activities, like cheating on expense reports — it not only benefits us as individuals but also signals to your colleagues and managers that we are trustworthy and reliable.
14. Disputing your boss for making an inaccurate statement
Disputing your boss in a meeting for making an inaccurate statement can be challenging, as there can be repercussions or adverse reactions if not done tactfully.
Nevertheless, it is the right thing to do — you are showing respect for truth and accuracy above obedience or conformity.
Having the courage to stand up for what is right despite the potential backlash, you are also setting an example for others who may otherwise remain silent when they notice something incorrect.
It takes tremendous fortitude to do this, especially as it may put your career at risk — but your action shows that integrity has no boundaries — even when facing uncomfortable situations.
Integrity is essential to creating a healthy environment and culture in the workplace. It forms the core of both personal and professional relationships, ensuring that everyone within the workplace is accountable for their actions and words.