In a recent conversation with a colleague of mine the topic of business integrity came up. Actually, I’ve had this type of conversation many times during the nearly 20 years I’ve been in business.
It seems in some circles the word integrity means something completely different than in other circles.
Let’s start with the Webster’s Dictionary definition.
: the quality of being honest and fair
: the state of being complete or whole
Full Definition of INTEGRITY
1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
2: an unimpaired condition : soundness
3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness
It’s amazing the number of entrepreneurs who use the word integrity to define the way they run their business, but a closer look reveals a contradiction in their use of the word and their actions.
Many of these entrepreneurs call themselves heartcentered, soul based, or integrity based business owners.
Yet their actions are so far removed from the very way they define themselves.
Here are a few examples of how people may be missing the mark when it comes to their expression of integrity.
1. Information Product Purchases.
There are those who buy information products, digest the information and then ask for a refund while applying (and benefiting from) the very information they are requesting a refund on.
For some this is not a one time occurrence, but rather a standard, business as usual, practice.
Really?!?! Is this someone who is walking in integrity? I think not. It’s one thing to buy a program, go through the information and if you really feel it is misrepresented asking for a refund.
On the other hand, if you bought a program, used it and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt the information was as represented, what the heck are you asking for a refund for? Would you want people to do that to you? Likely not, so why do it to others.
You wouldn’t believe some of the lame excuses my colleagues and I have heard. Well, maybe you would. Maybe you’ve heard these or something whackier.
“I went on vacation and spent more than expected so I need a refund.”
“I want to buy expert X’s program and before I can do that I need my money back from your program.”
Come on folks. Grow up. Put on the big girl and boy panties. This is real business.
2. Coach surfing.
You hire a coach to help you and rather than listening to their advice (which they have a proven track record on) you decide to hire a couple more coaches and bounce around on who you will listen to this week.
Sure, there are occasions you need more than one coach due to areas of expertise, but to have three or four coaches for the exact same thing is counterproductive.
There’s a good chance each coach has their own style of coaching and will make conflicting recommendations.
By taking advice from three or four people on the same thing you are going to be spreading your efforts way too thin and frustrating the heck out of the experts you hired.
Why not stick with one coach, give it 100% and get out of your comfort zone by sticking with one plan.
This one will lose you points faster than just about anything. My team works hard to give the best service possible. If someone mistreats, is rude, or acts like they can talk down to my team and I won’t mind them doing so, well… this is as close to the edge as you can get.
Years ago I ran a multimillion dollar career training company. Occasionally we would be hiring for either a sales or training position. When a potential new hire would come in for an interview one of the “tests” I had was to make them wait a few minutes in the lobby.
The fact is, I wanted to see how they treated the receptionist. Little did the new hire know this was all part of the interview process. If they were polite and treated Erika, the receptionist, as a professional they gained points.
If, on the other hand, they didn’t treat her respectfully or complained about the wait, they lost lots of points. So many in fact, they were not considered for the job.
So how do you treat members of a support team? Don’t think for a minute they don’t share great treatment as well as harsh treatment with the person who pays them because they do.
If you claim to have an integrity based business are you acting the part?
You’re not doing anyone a favor by buying products and services and then either asking for a refund based on your bad money management or thinking having a bunch of coaches is going to solve your problems.
You’re also not doing anyone a favor by taking your bad mood out on others. You’ll get a heck of a lot further by showing respect and appreciation than by being a jerk.
The fact is, you’re not the only one dealing with problems. Every business owner does. What determines your level of professionalism is how you handle your problems and how you interact with others in the process.
Running a business takes discipline. Often it’s the discipline of saying no, even though you think that next fun thing will make all the difference in the world.
The discipline resides in being able to say no when needed AND saying yes to the agreements you have made. Yes in time, yes in money and yes in energy.
The discipline also resides in treating everyone you come in contact with respectfully. After all, isn’t there enough disrespect going around? The buck and ball stops with you.
What are your thoughts on walking the talk/walk of integrity based businesses? Comments welcome.