What Does Integrity in Business Actually Mean?

things I wish I'd known

Every entrepreneur knows how vital it is to have employees you can count on to succeed in business. This is why loyalty and integrity are the two selection criteria on most of the soft skill selection lists of any Human Resource department.

Loyalty in business does not need further explanation, but what does integrity in business actually mean? Integrity in business is defined as:

Strict adherence to a moral code, reflected in transparent honesty and complete harmony in what one thinks, says, and does.[1]

Integrity is not always easy to measure. Integrity is perceived individually and is often less about logic and more about a general ‘sense’ we get from a person. But if we look at the elements of integrity: honesty and vulnerability, and congruency and harmony of thought, speech and action, we can begin to see not only how to spot those around us with true integrity, but to recognize and develop it within ourselves.


A lot of people are in fear of consequences when they make mistakes and would therefore rather lie than telling the truth. However, failing is part of the process of becoming successful. Transparent honesty is about having the vulnerability and self-awareness to recognize that making mistakes is not bad and horrible, in fact, failing can be very positive and you can learn a lot if you take a healthy, non-critical attitude!

If you are honest with yourself, you are willing to admit when you’ve made mistakes, but also not judge yourself (or anyone else) for those mistakes. You can then see what can be changed and allow the possibility of growth. If you are lying and trying to hide whatever has occurred, things are most often even worse when they eventually come out, and reputation and trust can be diminished.

The more honest and vulnerable you get with yourself – without keeping up any facades or masks – the more self-aware and empowered you will become, and your sense of personal integrity can expand. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

Is this really true for me?

If I would truly be me, what would I choose to be or do here?

If I choose this, will this create the future I actually desire?

Congruent Communication

Have you ever experienced two people that said exactly the same thing, but one of them was clear and easy to understand and second one (who used exactly the same words as the first one), was hard to hear? This is because when we communicate, it isn’t just the words coming out of our mouths or our body language that influence what we are communicating to those around us – our thoughts, attitudes and actions pay an integral part.

taking time out

When people are aligned and in harmony with what they are thinking, saying, being and doing, they are congruent on all communication levels. They tend to be much easier to understand and work with. These four levels of communication can be described as:

  1. Verbal – what people are saying
  2. Mental – what people are thinking while they are speaking
  3. Energetic – what people are being while they are talking (their state of being, feelings and emotions)
  4. Action – conclusive actions. If people are doing what they are saying, they walk their talk.

People who are in alignment on all communication levels are perceived as authentic, reliable, of integrity and in general, more easily trusted than those who are not. Integrity is important for them and most likely one of their personal core values next to other values like persistence, courage, and intelligence.

All of these communication levels can be perceived with your willingness to be aware of more than what is presented at face value, they are not necessarily always immediately obvious or logically measurable. In order to become more aware of them, you can ask yourself the following questions:

Is this person actually thinking / believing what she/he is saying?

Often times people think they have to have a specific point of view or opinion or they need to say what their boss would like to hear. Does the person actually mean what she/he is saying?

Is the person being what she/he is saying?

A person is energetically congruent when she/he is present in their body and is embodying the energies, feelings and emotions they are talking about. They have a sense of genuineness in that engages you and makes it easier to receive what they are saying.

Will this person fulfill what she/he is saying?

Will this person follow through with actions of what she is talking about? Is this person walking their talk?

The first three levels of communication will show up immediately, while the person is speaking. The fourth level will be most likely been seen at a later stage, as they engage with the people, tasks and projects around them. Being aware of these four levels of communication helps you to become an expert of knowing people. If you apply them to yourself, you become an expert in knowing you, and you may become aware of where you can increase your clarity of communication in your life and with others.

Integrity is a choice. You get to choose if you add it to your core values and to what degree you wish to live by those values. When you are willing to be honest with you and congruent with the way you communicate, you begin to have an easier time engaging with the world, as well as a greater ability to recognize integrity in others around you. Who or what are you choosing to be? What can those choices create in your life and business?

[1] http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/integrity.html

This guest post was authored by Tanja Barth

Tanja Barth is a personal wealth and well-being coach, mentor and co-author of Beyond Limitless. She has spent more than two decades in a highly-successful financial career – including as auditor, transaction service manager, private equity & management consultant, wealth manager, and CFO. Now, in addition to her business activities, she incorporates her vast financial and management experience into her role as a Wealth Creators Anonymous facilitator, and the facilitation of several other Access Consciousness® special programs. For more, visit www.tanjabarth.com.


Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.