What is the price of your integrity?

Ivan Temelkov

04/17/2020 4 min read

What is the price of your integrity? How much will it cost you to retain it? How much would you lose should you choose to retain your integrity?

What is integrity?

By definition, integrity is the quality of being honest and having moral principles. More uprightness. It is the state of being whole and undivided.

Recently I was speaking with a client of mine regarding integrity. The conversation had taken a stem from something that we were discussing and suddenly we found ourselves talking about the importance of integrity. 

We talked about honesty, vulnerability, transparency, accountability, and being direct. I also brought up the fact that integrity has a price.

What is the cost of integrity?

As our discussion continued to develop I mentioned that I had previously lost business/clients because I adhere to a strong sense of integrity. I am a firm believer that it’s important, to be honest, tell the truth, and simply do the right thing.

In the business world, integrity is a dual-edged sword. It has to be exercised with caution or otherwise, it can cost you. Dearly!

Exercising my integrity has cost me in the past. It has cost me relationships. It has cost me money with my business. It has created perhaps unnecessary havoc.

I know what you’re probably thinking right about now.

Isn’t integrity about being honest, direct, transparent, and everything else that I mentioned above? You are absolutely correct! Integrity is all of that and then some but here’s the caveat to this.

Exercising integrity in business doesn’t always yield a positive result. In fact, there are many instances when integrity can have a negative impact.

What do I mean by that?

The unfortunate part about business is that most clients want to hear what they want to hear. Telling them the truth, being honest, direct, transparent, and accountable isn’t always the best approach.

For instance, last year I worked with one of the biggest opportunities that I had in my business thus far. It was a challenging industry and one that I had not done any digital marketing work in previously but I chose to welcome the opportunity with open arms.

I did an amazing job of offering the whole 9 yards. Website, paid media ads, SEO, social media. It wasn’t a question about the results that were generated as an outcome of my initiatives. What was extremely disturbing is when I exercised integrity and was very transparent with them.

You see, certain members of management were manipulating the reports I was providing simply due to the fact that they were wanting to ‘Wow’ their investors in shareholders. They were inflating the numbers so much that you could clearly tell that such exponential growth would be very difficult to accomplish in such a short period of time.

So, naturally being a contracted provider I stepped up to the plate and exercised my integrity where I showed full transparency. I advised them that inflating numbers wasn’t a good approach for the sake of making themselves look better. Instead, it was an act of self-sabotage that would eventually come back and haunt them. 

Most clients want to hear what they want to hear. What satisfies them. What seems to be rewarding and not necessarily what is exactly happening. This is where integrity cross-pollinates and can be detrimental in such situations.

In the grand scheme of things though I have learned a few things. It is more important, to be honest, transparent, direct, and otherwise doing the right thing then to be spreading lies or feeding an ego.

What kind of role has integrity played in your business?