Integrity is not what you think and goes beyond the simple phrase of “Doing the right thing when no one is watching,” or the defined: adherence to a code of values; soundness; completeness (PBS Digital Studios., 2016) .
Integrity does not mean the same thing to everyone. When you dispassionately evaluate people, you will find that integrity is highly malleable, whose employment is often scalable to the circumstances confronting them. With that, you will inevitably understand that no one person’s integrity is unassailable, including your own. We have all lied, cheated, and in some cases, stolen at one time or another. We do this because we are all, at our core, self-interested. No matter how small the infraction, it happens…it’s in our nature. To ignore this or insist that it does not exist within you, and others ignore the reality of being human and the frailties that come with it.
This narrative, therefore, speaks to and is founded in Classic Utilitarianism and Consequentialism
“Classic utilitarianism is consequentialist as opposed to deontological because of what it denies. It denies that moral rightness depends directly on anything other than consequences, such as whether the agent promised in the past to do the act now. Of course, the fact that the agent promised to do the act might indirectly affect the act’s consequences if breaking the promise will make other people unhappy. Nonetheless, according to classic utilitarianism, what makes it morally wrong to break the promise is its future effects on those other people rather than the fact that the agent promised in the past,” (Edward, Sinnott-Armstrong, 2019) .
Read further about Consequentialism, Actual Consequentialism, Direct Consequentialism, and Evaluative Consequentialism here.
A leader’s choices are never truly binary. Flexibility, therefore, is vital because there will always be outcomes of your decisions that will trouble you. You will see the strengths and faults in one path, just the same as you will in the alternative. Both may be mutually beneficial while also being mutually fatal, even when your decision is morally ambiguous when seen publically. Other choices will be less black and white when weighted against a multitude of factors that are not or will never be publically known. Without your insights or perception, the public will judge you for having chosen the wrong outcome. What is the benefit to you, your team, or the larger organization? Does this outcome bring more utility to you, your team, and the organization than another in the same circumstance?
Sartre thought about not of life’s lack of meaning. But it’s terrifying abundance of freedom.
“If there are no guidelines for our actions, then each of us is forced to design our own moral code, to invent a mortality to live by.”
He therefore saw that we are condemned to be free:
“You might think that there’s some authority you could look to for answers, but all of the authorities you can think of are fake.”
Therefore any meaning in life is given to it by you (PBS Digital Studios et.al., 2016) .
The different circumstances and permutations of events are astronomical. What you need to know first is yourself, your vision of the future self you are striving for. What are the values you need to adopt to achieve that vision? That vision and values feed your own sense of right and wrong, how you will apply, and define them as your sense of integrity when making decisions in the chaos of the circumstances confronting you.
Generally, when we do bad things, we rationalize them away. “I am doing this because they need to be taught a lesson.” Be they good things or bad, everyone’s integrity is scalable to their external circumstances and their emotional instinct for survival. Developing your core values will help support “your” integrity and guide you when confronted with the worse circumstances.
The bottom line, your integrity is what you make it, how you define it. Suppose you take anything away from Satre’s brief statement. In that case, it should be that if you rely on your belief in other mortals, or a higher power to create morals and values, you have shrugged off your responsibility (and not taking the responsibility) and put it into the hands of another. If you believe in a higher power, you know that power gave you a material body, brain, consciousness, and (supposedly) free will, so regardless of your choice, it is yours alone. You have the tools…use them.
If the world is going to have any of the things most of us value – like justice and order – we’re going to have to put it there ourselves. Because, otherwise, those things wouldn’t exist.
– Professor Ruth Tallman