Fast Company

What’s More Important Than Exceptional Work? Integrity.

If you ask me, integrity is the backbone of any good business—no, great business. But it’s a broad term, one that people find more difficult to define than, say, “results-oriented.” And without knowing what integrity is, it’s almost impossible to live it.

So, what does integrity mean to me? Well, to start:

  • Delivering what you promise, when you promise.

Without even talking about how diverse the marketplace is and how quickly buyers can go elsewhere to find what they’re looking for, it’s simply the right thing for businesspeople to do. Delivering the right product on time tells your buyers/clients that you value their needs, their business, and their money. It’s the best and simplest way to build trust. If you’re not perfect (and none of us are), integrity is best exemplified by how you take action when you have floundered.  If you have failed to deliver on time or on the money, how do you show your client that you learned something, will correct the issue, and value the sacrifice they have made in enduring your mess?

  • Being accountable.

This means taking ownership of a project. When you really own something, you want to get it done to the absolute best of your ability. This should be the case with any product or service you provide. Conversely, as mentioned above, being accountable also means accepting responsibility when something goes wrong, and doing everything in your power to make it right.

  • Being completely present

No one can be involved in every project from start to finish; it would be impossible to grow a business that way. But you can be present in every project. Being present means remaining aware. It means contributing to the process when it’s necessary or appropriate, and personally ensuring that your buyer’s needs are met. Your clients want to know that you’re just as invested in the project as they are, so show them with a quick phone call, by being attentive to e-mail, and by generally being available for consultation. 

Operating a business with integrity makes the difference between one that’s “okay” or “acceptable” and one that grows because clients are eager to share their experiences with the world. What’s your definition of integrity? How do you live it? Please share your thoughts with me here!

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