2010 Career Challenge: I = Integrity

By Skip Lineberg

Integrity is the scarcest resource in the world of business today. Yes, you read that correctly.

Integrity is so simple–yet we all tend to muck it up with excuses, compromises, and blame-shifting. Pair me with a person of integrity, and we’ll outperform a team of ten feckless, shifty folks every day of the week.

If you’re looking to ignite your career, build your integrity. Here’s how to get started:

Integrity is saying, “I don’t know.” Instead of BS-ing your way through some meaningless diatribe, why not simply say that you do not know the answer, follow it up with “But I’ll find out and get back to you”, then do it?

So simple. So underutilized.

Integrity is admitting that a mistake was your fault. Instead of trying to shift all or part of the blame onto someone or something else… simply fess up when you’ve screwed up. (Note: “The server crashed” sounds just as flimsy in the office as “The dog ate my homework” did in the classroom.)

Integrity is asking for help when you get stuck. We all get stuck. Top performers just recognize it sooner and seek help right away. The other 96% of the world procrastinate, ruminate and obfuscate.

Integrity is honoring your word. Did you say you would do something? Fine. Recognize that you made a promise – and now your name and your reputation are on the line. So, whatever it was … is it done? And I mean is it fully done…in a manner that reflects well of you and your organization? Forget grey areas. This is black and white: a yes or no question. If the answer is no, get back to it until it is done–and done well.

Many careers are wrecked by incremental violations of these rules…one tiny breach after another… that build over time, fostering negative perceptions that can eventually become insurmountable.  So the next time you’re tempted to break your word (or a deadline), remember that your integrity is at stake… and forge ahead until you complete what you’ve promised.

Note: This is Part 9 in a series called the “2010 Career Challenge: Becoming a Rock Star from A to Z” by Emily Bennington and Skip Lineberg, co-authors of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job.

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