Have you ever worked with someone who over promised and under delivered? Or how about someone who exaggerated their job qualifications during an interview? The sad truth is there are many people who rationalize dishonesty and cut corners to get ahead in the workplace.

When you have an “end justifies the means” mentality, you may receive short-term gratification and success, but it comes with a price. When you damage your integrity, you also damage your credibility and reputation. And that’s something that you can’t easily win back.

In all relationships – both personal and professional – trust is the foundation. Employees want to work with companies they trust.

What Does Integrity Look Like in the Workplace?

Before we discuss how integrity impacts innovation, let’s be clear on how it influences leadership in general.  As a leader, it starts with you and how well you communicate and act with integrity. It’s establishing a moral and ethical framework for your company, which governs decision-making on every level.

Now, let’s break down what integrity looks like:

It’s being transparent. Integrity is keeping your word and following through on what you say you’re going to do. Being an open and honest communicator is especially important when things aren’t going well. 

For instance, let’s say you’ve launched a new product, but your ROI isn’t what you anticipated. When your team knows what’s happening, they will be more understanding when you need to re-strategize and go in a different direction.

It’s acting in accordance with your values and beliefs. For many companies, there’s a major disconnect between company value statements and employee values. 

In fact, according to research from the Institute of Leadership and Management, 83% of managers claim their companies have value statements, yet only 38% consider they are closely aligned to those statements. In addition, 63% of people believe they have been asked to take action which goes against the values of their organization.

If kindness is one of your core beliefs, be mindful of how you behave the next time an employee disappoints you. If your initial reaction is harsh and aggressive, take a step back. Observe the misalignment between your beliefs and actions, and think of how you can bring them closer together moving forward.

It’s holding yourself accountable and taking ownership of your mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process, and rather than beat yourself up, you should acknowledge your mistakes to foster continuous growth.

Not only are mistakes an excellent learning tool, they also make you more likeable, according to research. Numerous studies have been conducted on the “Pratfall Effect,” which is “a psychological phenomenon that says that competent people appear more likeable and attractive when they make a mistake than when they are perfect.”

In one study led by researcher Elliot Aronson, participants were asked to listen to two tapes of people taking a quiz. The first tape was unchanged and the second one included the sound of a coffee cup being knocked over. When participants rated the people on “likability,” the coffee spill group ranked higher.

Why? Mistakes make you more relatable. We’re all human, and we’re all flawed.

How Integrity Impacts Innovation 

  1. You’re not afraid to challenge the status quo.

Integrity means standing up for what you believe in. Nothing extraordinary has ever been achieved by doing things the way they’ve always been done. To create something innovative, you must venture out, explore new ideas and test theories.

  1. You’re willing to make the hard calls.

Even when it goes against popular opinion, you act in the best interest of your company, your employees and your clients. 

Also, the way you make tough decisions affects your company’s decision-making culture. If you put off making hard choices, this teaches your employees to avoid conflict, rather than face it. The momentary discomfort of making a hard call should pale in comparison to the example you set that it’s vital to put the company’s well-being first.

  1. You start thought-provoking conversations and encourage feedback.

Feedback allows for individual and organizational growth. It’s also necessary in order to identify areas that require improvement. 

To foster innovation within your organization, you need to create a safe space where everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions. You can have outstanding ideas, but they’re not valuable until they are expressed. 

Tap into Your Inner Truth

You may talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? Ask yourself: “What do I believe in? What drives me on a deep level?” Take a moment to reflect on your core values and beliefs. Acting with integrity means making decisions that are aligned with those values and beliefs. It’s being guided by your true purpose and intent.

As a leader with integrity, you inspire innovation. When you’re honest with others, they’re honest with you. Living in integrity brings out the best in you and your team.