With the 2016 election campaigns already well underway here in the US, some of us are likely to be entreated to: "Elect a candidate with integrity!" But what, exactly, does integrity mean? Generally, we associate integrity with strong moral character. Miriam Webster defines it as: "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values". I'd like to propose a more specific meaning:
Having integrity means that my words and actions are aligned with my thoughts/beliefs.
For example: If I think the environment is important and I tell people that I am pro-environment but I over-water my lawn, create lots of plastic waste and buy beef raised on clear-cut forest fields, I am not being in integrity.
Another example: I believe and say that family means everything to me, but I spend very little time with my kids, I don't share all the family tasks fairly, and I spend most of my time after work drinking and getting in trouble. Again, I am not being in integrity.
The expression "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" is a way of saying that our so-called goodness depends on our actions, not merely thoughts or beliefs. That's integrity.
So, why does this matter?
If I become known as a person of integrity, I will be trusted with more things, and more important things at work. I will most likely be less micro-managed. If my reputation for integrity extends outside of my employer, I'm more likely to attract better opportunities, whether I am actively looking or I find myself suddenly in need of a job change.
By contrast, if you become known for a lack of integrity, people will hear your good intentions but they won't trust you to do what is right. Employers might watch over your work more carefully, or lay you off in a first round. Job opportunities could become constrained, being limited to only positions where mostly doing the right thing is good enough.
A closing thought about integrity: don't rely on other people's views of you to determine whether you are being in integrity. You know. When contemplating action, do a "gut check". Does what I am about to do reflect what I believe and what I say?