July 2012

Integrity

“In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you.”

I think you’d agree that’s a pretty powerful observation, especially coming from Warren Buffet, known for his brilliance as an investor, his leadership as a businessman, and his generosity as a philanthropist (he’s announced his intention to give 99% of his fortune to charity).

It’s an important reminder, I think, that some of the attributes we may think of as being crucial to success - how smart you are, how productive your work is, how much initiative you take, and so on - count less, at the end of the day, than having a moral compass. In the quest to lead a meaningful life, few things matter more than knowing what you stand for and remaining true to it.

The more examples we see of behavior that’s just about expediency or personal gain at the expense of others, the more evidence we get that integrity - or lack of it - is not just an abstract trait. “My word is my bond” has real and lasting consequences. And that, by the way, is as true of organizations as it is of individual people.

Integrity matters - not because it makes you noble, but because it makes you someone another person can trust.