The Vital Importance of Integrity
by Marty Poehler
Imagine you have been a member of an organization for a long time. It recently got a new President and CEO. He had been successful in his previous job. Right from the start, however, in his new job there was a shakeup almost daily. Members of the organization were sniping at each other constantly, trying to gain the favor of the chief. Members in leadership positions came and left regularly. They sometimes left because they didn’t agree on certain things with the head. Other times they went because they were caught stealing, and everyone knew that was wrong. Even though they were good friends with the CEO, he had to let them go.
One thing that seemed to make things much worse was that the chief was always lying. He lied from the very beginning. The lies would stack up – sometimes two, three, or four a day. Nobody could trust anything he said and any order coming from above. It became tempting to just ignore what he said and work around it so that the organization could function and get a few things done that it felt important to do – though there was nothing now that could be called efficiency, as nobody was sure what was to be followed, or what was true. You had to always be questioning what was said, and couldn’t take anything at face value.
This brought a general disheartening to you and other members of the organization. You felt it hard to feel you were all in a shared venture with shared goals. Rather than get close to your colleagues, you began to wonder whether they were spying on you – or whether they would get the ax – or that you would get it. There was no joy and little purpose in the day-to-day goings on in your job. It became a heavy burden – a “going through the motions.” And while some customers felt the organization was giving them good service, a growing number felt it and its CEO were not serving them as it should, and grumbling began against it.
Imagining this scenario, you can see that all of this came about in this hypothetical situation (which may have some parallels in real life) because of the demise of integrity. Many people at the top -- instead of uniting for the good of the organization, went after the approval of the CEO to further their own ambition and at the expense of others’ careers. People began to not trust each other. And because the CEO was always lying, everything you heard spoken in the organization had to be checked and rechecked and couldn’t be accepted at face value.
When selfishness and lying like this combine, personal integrity and integrity in an organization go out the window. Then the temptation is great for each member to not be true and honest, but to lie to further their own goals. It becomes “every man for himself.” You can see that without integrity, organizations, whether they be large ones like a government or country, or small ones like a family, will tend to self-destruct.
Could this happen to your government or country? And is your own small group or family in danger of flying apart because you’ve trampled integrity or someone close to you has? For a group (large or small) to survive, people in it have to look out for others and tell the truth -- or it will tear itself apart. There’s great practical as well as eternal truth in, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”