Integrity, a subject that many of us easily talk about but often used to hide our real selves. I will use excerpts from an article I recently read around the subject.
Corporate Integrity: It Starts at the Top
I heard of a story about a gentleman who used to be affiliated with a construction company whose owner ordered the workers to cut corners in every way possible without getting caught. Some foremen were even chastised for taking extra care to do a good job. Did this philosophy work? No. The company did make money, but the employees who took pride in their work went elsewhere, leaving a workforce who simply was not trustworthy and a company which had a shady reputation.
When a new owner set a policy of always doing things right, the company slowly began to grow. Those who continued to cut corners were dismissed and a new vitality began to emerge as the employees felt good about themselves; they began to love their jobs and became proud of who they worked for. Guess what? This company continues to flourish today. Coincidence? I think not.
Individual Integrity: We Are All Accountable
Writer and speaker Nicky Gumble punctuates this truth in the following story:
A man named Gibbo used to work as a clerk for Selfridges. One day the phone rang and Gibbo answered. The caller asked to speak to Gordon Selfridge, who happened to be in the room at the time. When Mr. Selfridge instructed Gibbo to tell the caller that he was out, Gibbo handed him the phone and said, ‘You tell him you’re out!’ Gordon Selfridge was absolutely furious, but Gibbo said to him, ‘Look, if I can lie for you, I can lie to you. And I never will.’ That moment transformed Gibbo’s career at Selfridges – he became the owner’s most trusted employee.
Integrity, for Gibbo, was so deeply ingrained that he disobeyed his boss without hesitation. Yes, he might have been fired, but I am guessing that Gibbo wouldn’t have wanted to continue working there anyway. In this case, however, his integrity was instrumental to his ascent at Selfridges.
Why Integrity Works
It is no surprise that employees with integrity shine. They do not undermine their fellow workers, they work just as hard whether they are being watched or not, they can always be counted on to do their best, and they will be honest enough to admit it if they have made mistakes. They won’t pass the blame, but they will share the credit. They are an inspiration to others, creating a positive and upbeat work environment.
If you were in charge of hiring and networking, wouldn’t you dig beneath the surface of a potential employee’s resume to learn of their integrity? Of course you would. Therefore, if you are that employee, your services will be coveted, both when you are hired and for years thereafter.
How Are You Doing?
- Do you leave work early when there is no possibility anyone else will find out?
- Do you accept full responsibility (or your share) when things don’t go well?
- Do you share the credit when things go right?
- Do you confront wrongdoing, even if it means confronting a Team Leader/Manager?
- Do you hide legitimate income to avoid paying taxes on it (such as not reporting cash payments)?
- Do you claim tax deductions you can’t document?
When I left my job as a corporate executive, most people did not understand what I was trying to do. I remember calling my mentor, Mr Zweli Manyathi and spending 45 minutes with him on the phone with the whole conversation centered around the foolishness of the decision. The concern was mostly created by my own inability to explain what felt right but didn’t make sense.
What exactly is that? Social entrepreneurship uses business techniques and private sector approaches to unearth solutions to social, cultural, or environmental problems. The idea may be applied to a variety of organizations with different sizes, aims, and beliefs. Generally speaking, entrepreneurs measure performance in profit, revenues and increases in share prices.
However, social entrepreneurs also take into account a positive “return to society” over and above conventional business performance approaches.
Social entrepreneurship typically attempts to further broad social, cultural, and environmental goals often associated with the voluntarism (often confused with pure philanthropy). I have since met many social entrepreneurs (whether they call themselves such or not).
As many people who know me will attest to, people who get me in terms of values and what I stand for generally and those who enjoy working with me tend to literally follow me. However, Dot does not work for me and neither is she involved in BPO, Education or the church. She has however involved in in creating opportunities for young South Africa. She just facilitated 5000 young people through a learnership between February and June, majority of whom are already gainfully employed with one of the large retail groups in South Africa. In my sector we call this Impact Sourcing and it makes global headlines.
Dot goes about her day like this is nothing. The morning, we met for a catchup, as we shared our favourite drink, Cafe Latte (we have shared this bad habit since we met long ago), she casually told me she is preparing for her second intake of 6000 plus young people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. That’s 6000 unemployed school leavers who would otherwise have not chance to join the formal economy and provide for their families.
So, why am I sharing this? I am sharing this precisely because when I meet friends and colleagues who share my passion for a better tomorrow for our nation, it validates the decision I took to jump out of the corporate rat race based on the feeling that it was right. I share it so i can say to my friend Zuki Mzozoyana of Young Entrepreneurs and #Uthemandithi (He said I should do/say…), it’s ok to not make sense to the world when you follow your calling. I am sharing this to encourage other people who want to make a difference in the lives of others through their vocational activities.
Thank you to all the roses busy growing on concrete. Those who know that poverty is not meant to permanently move from generation to generation on this the wealthiest continent on earth. The champions who get up and do something about what they see in our communities. While the world wonders about what can or can’t be done, we get young Africans into opportunities and change destiny for families, communities, countries and out continent. Thobela! Nda!
This trend has made its way to our shores and it’s such a shame. People don’t even check facts anymore before stating their view on virtually anything and everything. We have the same people on social media posing as scientists, doctors, attorneys, preachers, teachers, parents, entrepreneurs, coaches and I even saw someone attempt to educate us on history without historical facts. Sad day for our species