What Is Organizational Integrity?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Individual integrity is the full alignment in what a person thinks, says and does. Taking that concept to another level, this post will explore the question “what is organizational integrity?”

Clearly, organizational integrity is broader than individual integrity, but what does it include? It seems to me that taking the concept of individual integrity to the organizational level, organizational integrity would mean full alignment in what an organization thinks, says and does.

When an organization demonstrates full alignment, all company messages, actions, decisions, leadership and rewards align. It’s not enough to just ensure alignment, though, because alignment without values can lead an organization away from ethical decisions and actions.

Messages, actions, decisions, leadership and rewards  must be aligned around positive ethical values that the entire organization supports.

This positive values-based alignment in what an organization values, says and does creates the scaffolding for an ethical culture. What does your organization say it values? How consistently does it live out those values in daily practice?

If your leaders are all perfectly clear about which high level ethical values to uphold and how to demonstrate them, you are probably incorporating complexity into your leadership development. You are also probably providing leaders with the level of detail about ethical values that they need to navigate through information overload, constant change and demands from multiple stakeholders. If not, you may be rolling the dice by taking an “I’ll know it when I see it” approach to ethics.

Linda Fisher Thornton, “What Is Integrity?: Beyond I’ll Know it When I See It”, Leading in Context Blog

Leaders are the key to values alignment – they model and reinforce values and hold people accountable for following them. Organizational integrity (at its most effective) is what happens when leaders consistently immerse an organization in positive ethical values and align all leadership, actions, decisions, messages, and reward systems accordingly.

 

 

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About Linda Fisher Thornton
Linda Fisher Thornton is Founder and CEO of Leading in Context, and author of the award-winning book 7 Lenses. She teaches as Adjunct Assoc. Prof. for University of Richmond SPCS. She is leading a movement to help leaders and organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.

4 Responses to What Is Organizational Integrity?

  1. Gabriel Sodje says:

    An Organizational integrity-means that the organization has attained an ethical height that set it out as ”light and path way” for leaders to emulate and set the world on its proper perspective. Leaders in our world today needs innate ethical characteristic traits, that would motivate them, to let go all about themselves, but navigates far into the future and creates formidable safe grounds for posterity to thrive in unshakable life sustainability. And thus imprint their names and their good works in the heart of men and women of our universe, in an indelible manner.

  2. Is the title a rhetorical question, or is it meant to invite discussion?

    If rhetorical, I apologize for bothering. If however it was to invite constructive discussion, then I am excited to contribute. Yes, my leadership comes from my military background, but ethical leadership doesn’t need to wear a uniform to be innately ethical. But, we are stereotypically the example used therein. In an attempt to answer, what I perceive to be, the question posed by the title it starts at the top of an org. Lead by example, if a board then all must exemplify, that which is desired. A single leader/President can show work ethic and behavioral etiquette. If a board they can show all that and the ability to work as a team in all facets. From that the organizational ethics are created. It is not a do as I say, not what I do, situation. Responsibility can be delegated, accountability can not.

  3. Pingback: What Is Organizational Integrity? | HENRY KOTULA

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