Integrity in business is the flagship value you should live by if you want to thrive in a competitive, often unforgiving market. Always acting with integrity, whether with team members, clients, or partners, is just as important as a stellar marketing plan or SEO campaign.
So, how do you build a culture of integrity and show it in your business? Let’s dive in.
View this post on Instagram
Why You Should Always Walk the Talk in Business
“Well, Rodney, naturally, I follow certain moral principles in my work. I’m an honest professional, after all. But what exactly do you mean by integrity in business?”
Let me illustrate.
You’re waiting for an important email. Days go by, and you get crickets. No communication. You’re certain you should have had a reply by now, and you start wondering whether the response will ever come. You’re confused and frustrated. Does this scenario encourage you to trust this person? I don’t think so.
In business, few things are more important than follow-through. Sending an email on time is a lot more than ticking off a box on a to-do list. It helps you build trust. Whenever you make a commitment and deliver on it, you send the following message: “I value your time. I respect our professional relationship.”
What Happens When Commitments Fall Through
Trust erodes when people break promises, miss deadlines, or fail to meet reasonable expectations in a professional setting. Getting it back is one tough job, so you’d better stick to your word from the first. Here’s how you can do it:
- Be intentional. Understand what you’re promising.
- Be truthful. Don’t over-commit; only undertake what you can deliver.
- Stand by your word. Whenever you promise something, leave no stone unturned to act on your commitment.
Here’s one important thing to remember: Relationships can make or break your business. Trust is a key factor in every relationship, either personal or professional.
Other Elements of Business Integrity
Intuitively, most of us understand what integrity in business means. It should be an underlying principle of all professional dealings, bringing trust, quality, commitment, reputability, and respect into the fold.
This one is a no-brainer. Whatever product or service you offer should be on par with (or, ideally, better than) the competition. Quality should be consistent, meaning every client can expect the same level of excellence from your service or merchandise. Obviously, you and your team should regularly look into your work processes and ask, “How can we make our products or services even better?”
When doing business with someone, how important is trust to you on a scale of 1 to 10? I’d guess it ranks pretty high, and with good reason. When we sign a contract, make a major purchase, or hire an important service, we want to be sure we’re working with a trustworthy professional.
Of course, trust isn’t something you achieve at the snap of the fingers. It flows from your consistent transparency, honesty, and commitment in all professional dealings.
Respect is the basis for any healthy interaction, whether professional or personal. Always show respect for everyone, from key investors to the person who cleans your office.
Respect is closely related to trust and can include many things, from addressing clients’ concerns to arriving at team meetings on time. Listening to what employees, clients, or business partners have to say, giving healthy feedback, and even simply saying “thank you” are all elements of respect.
Everyone makes mistakes, from to a lapse in quality control. What’s important here is the willingness to step up, own your mistakes, and make a solid plan for doing better.
For example, let’s say an important report you provide for a client misses key information. This can be embarrassing, but you win big integrity points by stepping up straightaway and saying, “I see I made a mistake. Thank you for pointing this out. I’ll correct this as soon as I can.”
Readiness to Change
This one flows directly out of accountability. A successful company acknowledges feedback and makes actionable plans based on it.
Criticism can hurt, but when you’re willing to embrace it and improve, this can be a major catalyst for your business. When you acknowledge that your process, product, or service has been imperfect, and you commit to doing better, you build up your professional integrity.
Depending on what you do, your ethical standards may also include giving back to the community. This could be almost anything, like commitment to an eco-friendly production chain, donating to a worthy cause, or sponsoring local charities.
For example, if you run a painting business, you could offer free services to one low-income family in your area every month or offer special prices to veterans. Giving back sends a message that your business is here to create positive change, not just make money.
Why Integrity Matters
There’s an inherent value in acting with integrity in business or any other context. Apart from that, professional integrity gives you very tangible benefits, such as the following:
- Better performance. When you commit to delivering superb results, you go the extra mile. You brainstorm ways to achieve an even better output as you set the bar higher to meet and beat goals.
- Career satisfaction. You’ll be happier and more confident in your work knowing you’re investing in top performance and outstanding service.
- Stronger reputation. It takes time, but eventually, you’ll build the reputation of a professional who always acts with integrity and delivers on their promises.
- Healthy relationships. Business success is a lot about networking and connections. When people know you as an upright, dependable professional, it becomes much easier for you to attract investors, clients, partners, and prospective employees.
- Larger profits. Integrity helps you foster client loyalty, win positive reviews, and make more sales.
- Higher value. When selling a company, “goodwill” is a recognized intangible asset that can help you make a better deal. Goodwill is the combined value of your reputation, brand, and customer base, all of which are closely related to professional integrity.
Putting Integrity Into Action
Integrity should be a core value for every business, but ? Here are a few suggestions for promoting integrity in your organization.
It’s All About the Mindset
At its heart, integrity in business is about who you are. Your clients, colleagues, employees, and investors feel your vibe. When you’re consistently honest, hardworking, truthful, committed, and trustworthy, people will know.
Of course, it’s a good idea to check in with yourself from time to time. Ask yourself:
- Did I give my all when helping that client or delivering that project?
- Did I treat everyone on the team with respect and honesty?
- Do I acknowledge feedback and use it to do better?
Build the Right Team
You might be committed to integrity, but what about your team? When hiring employees, always choose people who share your core values. Education, professional skills, and past achievements are important, but you also need to know you and your team members are on the same page when it comes to integrity in business and other key principles.
These tips will help you source the right people for your team:
- When you post a job listing, include your company’s flagship values along with the job description
- Ensure your interview process includes targeted questions that help you get to know the applicants as persons, apart from their skills and work experience
- Enlist your current best team members to help explain your company’s goals and what qualities you’re looking for in prospective employees
Make It Public
Public commitment is part of upholding integrity and other core values. You can put your message out on your website, especially the “About Us” and “Our Team” pages, your social media pages, press releases, and any channels broadcasting your company’s voice.
Integrity should be part of your business brand. Anyone who visits your site or pages should come away with a clear message of what you stand for: “We commit to delivering the absolute best service and 24/7 support. You’ll get your money back if we fall short of the results we promise.”
A steady, one-on-one connection with your audience will help you come across as a business with integrity. Current/prospective clients, colleagues, and anyone who wants to ask a question or give you feedback should be able to do so easily.
You need to ensure any person who gets in touch with your company, whether by phone, via an online form, or by commenting on your social media post, gets a fast and complete response. This is especially important when dealing with criticism or valid concerns. You should present yourself as accessible, accountable, and positive.
Follow Us for More Useful Content
I hope you enjoyed this breakdown of integrity in business and why it’s so important for leaders and entrepreneurs. Follow our blog for more useful tips on business success, marketing, and SEO.