When it comes to business growth and development, we often look at a list of many factors and elements that affects the overall business performance ranging from SME`s to large conglomerates. Just name them. But after all that can be named and mentioned, What I consider the most important Factor with full secondary and primary data source as authority, is INTEGRITY without owing any apologies.
Integrity is defined as being Perfectly honest and upright in all things; thoughts, words and actions. A business is considered a living entity or system.
“Honest Business is truthful even when it is not easy or convenient. Honest Business means not lying or stealing for any reason. A Business of integrity is true at all times to customers (internal and external) in all relations.”
Consider the following allegory;
“There once was a boy who lived with his mother and father. Their family was poor. The father got a job with a company that processed mangoes. The man thought the rich owner of the business would not miss a few mangoes. So, the father stole three mangoes one day for himself, his wife, and their boy. He said to his wife and boy: “What difference do three mangoes make to the business? The owner will not miss them and we like mangoes.” The boy knew that his father did not pay for the mangoes, but he ate one anyway because he was hungry. The father continued to bring three stolen mangoes home to his family every day and they continued to eat. The boy grew up and had a wife and a boy of his own. He got a job with a company that builds bridges, and helped to build a long bridge across a large river. He thought that the rich owner of the bridge building business would not miss a few building materials. So, while he was working on the bridge, he stole materials to build a house for his family. Because he took many materials that were supposed to be part of the bridge, it lacked structural integrity when it was finished. Many people (including the man’s wife and boy) celebrated the completion of the bridge by gathering together on the bridge for a ceremony. However, because the bridge lacked materials that were supposed to be used on it, it was not as strong as it looked. It collapsed during the ceremony and everyone—including the man and his family—were very sad.”-excerpt from Integrity and Honesty: A Family, Three Mangos, and a Bridge by Elder Marcus B. Nash, Africa West Area President.
I was in a meeting where Elder Marcus B. Nash gave the above talk excerpt on Integrity and Honesty, I could feel the message like fire in my bones. Since then, the subject of honesty and integrity has played a very important part in every aspect of my life. While preparing to write this article, I thought of different ways I could share how I applied the values of honesty and integrity in business.
One of the lessons share by Elder Marcus B. Nash is “our character will only be strong to the degree that we are honest and live with integrity. The bridge in both versions was only as strong as the materials that went into it. In the first version, the man decided to take some of the materials for his own house and not use them on the bridge. As a result, the bridge in the first version lacked structural integrity, and collapsed under a heavy load. In the second version, the man chose to put all of the proper materials in the bridge. As a result, the bridge in the second version of the story had the structural integrity to stand strong when a load was placed upon it.”
The best way I describe honesty and integrity in business, is that honesty and integrity is the life wire of every business, it is the core element, without which both the individuals and the business will fail like in the above allegory.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “There are 7 things that will destroy us: wealth without work; pleasure without conscience; knowledge without character; religion without sacrifice; politics without principle; science without humanity; business without ethics.”. In other words, if we are honest in our business and workplace by putting the require effort as required, without trying to cheat the business, customers or our employers, then we will be creating wealth with work, character, principle, humanity, conscience and ethics.
Over the majority of my career, I have worked in two areas that have the greatest influence on the success or failure of a business as an Administrative Assistant. Consequently, during my time as an Administrative Assistant, I have been very honest with financial dealings and in presenting the true situation of things as they really are, I also ensure I dedicate working hours for work. Through every work, family, business and religions activities, I always kept this quote of wisdom shared by C. S. Lewis, at the forefront of my mind saying “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” I always strive to do what is right even if no one is watching me and let my conscience be my guide. Also, Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”
Integrity and honesty, in my opinion, are crucial in leadership. Almost everyone has, at some point or another, been involved in or had a business where someone they know acted dishonestly. People often act in ways that contradict their words when they claim to cherish integrity in these circumstances. Every element of business intersect with honesty and integrity, I strongly believe that both people and business will blossom with honesty and integrity at heart. Honesty and Integrity is not something we exhibit because others are watching, it is who we are and when both business owners, customers, employers, employees, I mean everyone is honest at all time and in all places. Business will prosper, because there will be trust, trust is built from honesty while dishonesty tears down the tower of trust. I believe we all can be completely upright and honest in all that we do, think and say, not because of your business but for yourself, your family and the World at large.
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