Actually, the HR Director just asked me to tell them a little bit about my job.
Anyway, after I finished my most recent presentation to these ambitious up and comers, a strapping young man approached me and, out of the blue, asked, “What is the difference between ethics and integrity?”
I wondered if it was a trick question, and looked around for the hidden video camera that was set up to test me.
Apparently this had been a point of discussion earlier that morning, before I arrived, and there was an assignment to explore the subject in more depth. He wanted to see if my on-the-spot answer lined up with what the CEO had told them as part of their lesson that day.
After thinking about it for a moment, I answered with this: “Ethics is about following the rules, and integrity is about doing the right thing, regardless of the rules.”I’m no expert, but this is just what came to mind.
“So you’re telling me someone could be ethical, but not have integrity?” he asked.
“Sure,” I replied. “Plenty of people are just trying to stay out of trouble, only because the rules have been spelled out for them. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t charge ahead with those same behaviors if they were not prohibited. Integrity comes from a greater depth of character.”
He reclined back in his chair, seeming pleased with my answer. It synched up pretty close, I guess, with what the Big Guy had said earlier.
I suppose there is more to it than that, and if I wanted, I could do more research and consultation with the academic experts to explain it more completely. But lucky for me, I am not part of the High Potential Leaders’ group.
Marble photo by Nance Marie, used with permish.