20th June 2013

Demonstrating Integrity! by Ian Kinnery

“Does what he says he’s going to do” is a significant measure of integrity as I said last week, and I recently heard another acid test of integrity.
An American colleague was relating a conversation he had had with the investor Warren Buffett, and Warren had allegedly said “If you want to check a person’s integrity, just look at his calendar”. Of course we English speakers would call a calendar a diary but the meaning is still obvious. People of true integrity schedule time in their diaries to make sure that they do the things that they profess to be important. They make sure that they allocate the time to be able to do what is important.
If, for example, I espouse the virtues of learning, but in my diary I haven’t scheduled time for learning and the diary is full of other stuff, then it follows that I am saying one thing and prioritising another. I am not walking the talk. I am not a man of integrity.
If someone says that spending time with loved ones is important but their diary doesn’t allow time for such things we have to question how much integrity they are actually demonstrating.
I remember chastising a manager who worked with me for not getting away from the office earlier to spend time with his young family. My words were not having much effect and when I asked him why he just looked at his watch. It was 7.15 in the evening, and I was having this conversation in his office. He clearly, and rightly, wondered how I expected him to take any notice of what I was saying, when how I was behaving was in direct conflict with my advice.
Albert Schweitzer said that “Example is Leadership”. People will notice and follow what we do rather than what we say for people of integrity the two are the same. For people who lack integrity they won’t be the same and the actions will always speak louder than the words. I was not acting with integrity in that moment and my colleague heard my example, rather than my rhetoric.
So perhaps it would be an idea to look at your diary, and to review what you actually do to see how it aligns with what you profess. Does it demonstrate integrity or something less than that?
I am going to do that exercise, are you?