What Is Integrity? Definition, Attributes and Examples
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 18 November 2022
Published 30 August 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Integrity is a personality trait that involves having strong principles and using a strict code of ethics to guide your actions. This is an important quality in professional settings for both employees and employers. Learning how to behave with integrity can help you contribute to a positive work environment, build meaningful relationships and increase your career opportunities. In this article, we define integrity, discuss its five major attributes, share how you can show integrity at work and provide examples of how this quality may appear in action.
What is integrity?
To answer the question about what is integrity, it's the act of behaving honourably, even when no one is watching. People with integrity follow moral and ethical principles in all aspects of life. Integrity can extend to professional areas at work, such as decision-making, interacting with colleagues and serving customers or clients.
Employers seek job candidates with integrity because it helps ensure the quality of the product or service the company produces and promotes a positive reputation. When employees have integrity, their managers can trust their team works diligently.
What are the 5 attributes of integrity?
Integrity is both a personality trait and a skill, meaning you can develop this over time. Here are attributes that contribute to being a person with integrity and how you can display these traits:
Dependability means people can rely on you and that you keep promises. You're able to commit to tasks, people and events in which you can take part. Employers can trust you and give you more responsibilities. Your colleagues are happy to collaborate with you because they can rely on you to complete your share of a project.
To develop skills to be dependable, ensure that you meet deadlines, do what you say and are punctual. Assisting your colleagues is also a good way to show you're dependable.
Employers especially value and appreciate the loyalty of their employees. You can show loyalty by committing yourself to the company where you work and helping them to achieve their goals. You can be loyal to your team members by speaking kindly of them and assisting them when they need help.
Listening to authority and respecting their decisions is another way to show loyalty. It's also important to protect trade secrets such as company processes, inventions or strategies.
Integrity requires honesty. Those with integrity strive to be truthful. They own up to mistakes and try to learn from them. This attribute also means being authentic in the workplace.
Being honest encourages others to trust you and helps build meaning full relationships. Your colleagues are more likely to enjoy working with you, and this can create a positive work environment. You may also increase your career opportunities by handling professional matters with honesty.
4. Good judgement
Integrity requires some critical thinking and assessment skills to determine the best choice in decision-making situations. Showing integrity can help you develop a keen sense of intuition and make good judgements more consistently. Ensure that you carefully consider your options in a situation and try to predict the outcomes of each choice. If your decision affects your colleagues, it's important to decide with them in mind.
Possessing the other attributes of integrity is indicative that you're an individual with good judgement. You make decisions and act in a way that encourages others to trust, respect and depend on you.
People with integrity value other people by showing them respect at work. They do their best to be on time for meetings, meet project deadlines and keep others' feelings in mind. You can demonstrate this trait by exercising punctuality, care with your words and careful consideration of people's ideas. Developing interpersonal skills can help you be more aware of others' feelings and empathise.
How to be an employee with integrity
By showing integrity, you can make a positive impact on your work environment. Your actions can also inspire other employees and help exemplify employee behaviour that managers expect.
Here are several actions you can take to show integrity and impact your workplace environment:
1. Show up ready to work
Arrive at work each day on time. Ensure that you have a positive attitude and motivation to complete your tasks. If you have a conflict or a personal emergency, be sure to let a manager know immediately, rather than arriving late or being absent from work without notice. This shows responsibility and respect.
2. Set a positive example
You can set a good example of employee behaviour by acting with integrity. If you're in a position of leadership, it's essential to demonstrate this quality in your actions, but even in an entry-level position, showing integrity can inspire other employees around you. You can contribute to an outstanding work environment where employees are dependable and respect one another. This can reduce workplace conflict, improve the quality of work and increase productivity.
3. Be respectful during a conflict
Having integrity means you stand up for your ideas and opinions, but it also means you avoid speaking negatively of others or using unprofessional language. When you disagree with someone, take time to consider their point of view and respond respectfully. It's responsible to discuss the issue and make a compromise so that you can resolve conflict and maintain relationships.
4. Practise accountability
Be accountable for your actions, including mistakes or failures. This means you can admit when you do something wrong and that you accept responsibility for the results of your behaviour. Showing accountability fosters trust between you and your employer or colleagues. Accepting responsibility is also a sign of leadership and can help you advance your career.
5. Follow and enforce company policies
When you begin working for a company, it's important to learn the rules and policies for employees. Most often, company policy is in place to promote the safety of employees. Following rules and encouraging others to adhere to policy is a good way to show integrity. For example, if there's a policy that states employees cannot have food or drink on the production floor, be sure to eat in designated areas. If you see another employee breaking this rule, remind them of the policy and inform them of an alternative, such as taking a break to get a drink.
6. Improve your work ethic
Work ethic means you apply effort to ensure the quality and timeliness of your work. Try to meet deadlines or complete work early. Strive to be productive during working hours and meet each task or assignment with enthusiasm and motivation.
7. Respect property
Employees acting with integrity take care of the company and their personal property. This includes handling items with care, using equipment properly and taking supplies only for use of your work assignments. It's important that employers can trust you to be careful and help maintain facilities and company resources.
Examples of integrity in the workplace
To provide a better understanding of integrity, here are examples of situations that could occur in the workplace to provide context:
Example 1: Making hard decisions
Balqis was a developer assigned to develop a code for a new product. Although she had been working on the code for several months, she kept running into dead ends. Instead of patching together a temporary solution that would allow her to use the code she worked so hard to create, she decided to discuss the issue with her team to crowdsource a solution. Her primary goal was to ensure the code didn't lead to problems down the road and/or undermine the quality of the product.
Example 2: Addressing issues of honesty
Seng Chong, a sales rep for a software company, was asked by a potential customer whether the company's technology could perform a specific function critical to their business needs. Seng Chong wasn't certain the software could handle the needs of the customer, so he told them he would need to get back to them. Rather than provide potential misinformation just to make the sale, Seng Chong checked with the development team first. After determining the product could perform the requested function, he let his customer know. Not only did Seng Chong earn the sale, but he earned trust and respect from the client, too.
Examples of how to show integrity in your personal life
Try to be honest and abide by your principles, both professionally and personally. This can improve relationships and help you achieve happiness. If you practise integrity in all aspects of your life, you may be more likely to act ethically in the workplace.
Here are examples of how you can show integrity in your everyday life:
Speaking kindly of others and avoid gossip
Keeping your word and carrying through on promises
Listening to your partner and being honest about your feelings
Admitting when you make a mistake
Apologising when you hurt another person
Returning extra change if a cashier gives too much back
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