In my 20 years experience in HR and Training, 80% of the training modules we developed and/or conducted is geared towards skills development. As the global playing field change, so new skills are also being required.  Now as a micro entrepreneur, most consultations and trainings I got is also geared towards bridging the skills gap.

Not long ago, I conducted a 2 day  training session for a gov’t agency, and as agreed, 1st day is for self image [values] and 2nd day will be on skills. Of the different topics I  discussed, the subject of “integrity” made an impact.

Skills based success is still the norm and character development or values enhancement almost always take the back seat. While skills development  is not bad per se, there is a long term repercussion if character development is not given attention. Let’s read an excerpt from the article written by Lala Rimando entitled “When Executives Misbehave” in Newsbreak published on August 2, 2004

Ms. Rimando wrote:

I can’t take it anymore,” Mike, a thirtyish company vice-president, told Newsbreak. For the past years, his boss has been paying off a government official to avoid taxes. The legally mandated amount would have cost them three times more than what they are paying the official. Mike, bothered by his conscience, “Cancer cells.” That’s how Eduardo Roberto, marketing professor at the Asian Institute of Management and fellow of the Social Weather Stations, describes the likes of Mike’s boss.

Roberto is the principal researcher of a study entitled “CEO Perceptions and Attitudes Toward Corporate Misconduct.” The results show that the majority of the 96 chief executive officers (CEOs) and top management officials surveyed considered what was “wrong” in shades of gray, not in black and white terms.

These executives are members of the AIM Alumni Association, American Chamber of Commerce, Financial Executives Association, Management Association of the Philippines, and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“They are the bad cells that contaminate the good cells until the whole body is too sick,” Roberto said during the presentation of the study results… When CEOs distort the meaning of wrong and these cascades down the line, the excellent and honest employees like Mike leave. But more usually, employees tend to adopt the behavior of their superiors.

The cultural rejection of whistle blowing is strong among most senior executives, the study shows. Since executives twist the meaning of wrong to protect their own interests, Roberto said they might be inclined to do the same for their employees who misbehave. In fact, 57 percent of the respondents say it is acceptable to keep quiet about the misconduct of others.

A culture of corruption, whether in gov’t or private sector will  continue to proliferate if strength of character is given less emphasis.

Alexander Solzehnitsyn, a novelist, seemed to agree

In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers…we are ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations

In my opinion, if we would like to strengthen the institutions of our society beginning at home, this is of paramount importance.

Let’s take a look at pareto principle and see if I am making sense

 

If this principle is correct, then the 20% importance that we give to character affect 80% of our life.

Lack of integrity hurts our relationship, it breaks marriages and affects how kids are raised.

Lack of integrity is a breeding ground of corruption. Time, fixed assets, supplies and money is stolen from the corridors of government institutions to the hallways of private businesses.

Ethics becomes consensual, shades of gray becomes the color of the day.

But what is integrity, you may asked?

Integrity came from the latin word integer, which means in contrast with fraction, is “whole numbers”. In application to character, Integrity, according to Richard Dortch “involves everything about the wholeness of our inner person, our heart, mind and will. Integrity simply means singleness: Singleness of our purpose, singleness of our will, singleness of our hearts. There is no dividing of the truth that splits the wholeness of what we are about”. Mr. Dortch further explained that the prevailing duplicity in a person’s professional and private life is a manifestation of an eroding integrity.

In plain english, integrity is private life = public life. What you will not do in public, you would not still do even though you are alone. What you will not do in front of your kids and family, you will still not do when they’re not around.

Allow me to share  a story  about  Mahatma Gandhi to get a grasp on one dimension of integrity.

A lady reached Mahatma Gandhi with her 10 yr. old son. She told Gandhi, ” Sir, my son has a bad habit of eating a lot of jaggery ( a special kind of Indian sweets ). I have been telling him to reduce eating jaggery but he does not listen to me. Mahatma ji, the whole nation listens to you and you are a revered personality. I am sure my son too will heed to your advice. Please tell him not to eat too much of jaggery.”Mahatma Gandhi thought for a while and asked the lady to bring her son again after a week.

After a week , the lady again took her son to Mahatma. Mahatma Gandhi put his hand on the head of the boy and told him, “My dear child, don’t eat jaggery too much. It can be harmful”.

The conversation ended.

The bewildered lady asked the Mahatma, “Sir, this was simple. You could have told him the same thing last week itself !! Why you made us come again after a week ?”

Mahatma told the lady,” I myself used to take jaggery till last week. I needed a weeks’ time to quit eating jaggery so that I could counsel your son with conviction”.

The lady bowed in reverence to Mahatma Gandhi and took leave of him.

But integrity must have a basis as this will be the yardstick of  right from wrong. This is where Spiritual Intelligence play a role.

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