When I bring on a new client I always ask them to detail their drivers. My favourite ones to look at aren’t their goals, it’s their values. I like values because it’s what makes us tick, deep down; it’s what keeps us on track; it’s what is often out of whack when things are going pear-shaped.

One of the common values my clients have on their list is Integrity.

Now I could rabbit on about why it’s important and how not having integrity can hurt your business. But you should know by now that I put people at the centre of your business & I want to show you how the different people around you and your business see YOUR integrity.

I want to build a list of words to help you engender integrity in your business because I believe that there are multiple ways of being and seeing and that means we benefit from multiple ways of understanding.

What is integrity?

Let’s start with a definition from the Meriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of integrity

1firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic valuesINCORRUPTIBILITY
2an unimpaired conditionSOUNDNESS
3the quality or state of being complete or undividedCOMPLETENESS

I like the sound of that way of being. Incorruptible, sound, complete.

What is integrity from a customer perspective?

When I think, as a customer, of what integrity is; I come to one thing. Doing what you say you’re going to do. No excuses, no reasons because I’m honestly not interested. You said you’d do something, so do it & if you can’t, just tell me.

As a client, it comes down to honesty & trust. As a business owner delivering these things, it comes down to courage. It also takes courage to admit that you can’t do what you originally said you could.

Let’s revise that list. Incorruptible, sound, complete, honest, trustworthy, courageous.

What is integrity from your staff’s perspective?

integrity and values in small business quoteI’ve had many bosses and I’ve been a boss, as a boss I learnt the power of understanding my staff’s values and aligning them with those of the business. It was a more powerful motivator than any financial gain.

So drawing on that, and the conversations with clients who do have staff (because I swore I’d not have staff in my business), how do staff see your integrity over and above what has already been discussed?

The word I keep coming back to is Respect. And I don’t mean your staff showing it to you, quite the opposite. This is about you respecting them as part of having integrity. Why? Too often I hear boss’ saying that their staff are great with clients but crap with them. When I listen a little more it’s clear that the boss doesn’t treat the staff with respect and they have conflicting expectations between service to the business, owner, and clients. This impacts their perception of completeness and incorruptibility.

Let’s add to the list. Incorruptible, sound, complete, honest, trustworthy, courageous, respectful.

What is integrity from a business owner perspective?


Because this is all about the business’ value of integrity and that is separate from your values as the business owner, we need to look at how you as the business owner sees the integrity of the business.

Here’s the irony, you need to be objective and you need to have integrity to do this honestly. The funny thing is that to do this, you need to be vulnerable. You need to be ok with honestly ripping yourself apart and looking at it piece by piece and putting it back together because so much of you is in your business.

You also need to be patient, patient with yourself as you pull this all apart but also understanding that this takes time.

Hmmm, there are a few extra words to add to the list. Incorruptible, sound, complete, honest, trustworthy, courageous, respectful, objective, vulnerability, patient.

general sir peter cosgrove business integrity quote

Where small business can show integrity in their business.

Everywhere. (It had to be said)

I think we think we can only see it face to face but with so much happening online these days we need to show integrity online, websites, socials, email. We show it by showing our face (yup). We show it by sharing our voice. We show it by sticking to what we say we do and not confusing our audience. We show it by using a brand identity kit and sticking to our brand voice. If we want to show integrity, we must also be consistent and that means no matter who and no matter where.

And there’s the final word. Incorruptible, sound, complete, honest, trustworthy, courageous, respectful, objective, vulnerability, patient, consistent.

I’ve made up our integrity word cloud printable if you’d like a visual reminder.

I’m curious.

How do you feel looking at the list of words? Do they sound like traits you have? And how would you feel running your business knowing that this is not just how you were perceived but how you behaved? What would that do for your business?

Don’t forget that I can help you unpack not just your business values but the other drivers which make it a success. And I do that so you can use them across your marketing and to develop stronger and more profitable relationships for your business. Email me if you’re interested.


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