I just had a good question from my friend Bruce asking about the difference between ethics and integrity.

Ethics is a code of conduct essentially. It is the straight lines. Socrates once said, “you’ll never know a line is crooked unless you have a straight line to put next to it.” We are losing our straight lines! We are becoming a culture of crooked lines.

Integrity is that personal commitment to be consistent – same in public as in private, consistent, integrated, whole.

You might say that ethics deal with the principles (straight lines) and integrity deals with the person (inner commitment and alignment).

Here is a good article on this worth checking out…. http://www.zoomstart.com/ethics-and-integrity/.

What think ye?

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I’ve had some great questions about how to distinguish character, integrity and values.

Values are simply what we consider important.  We do what we value. We are all value driven. The question is whether or not our values are good ones or bad ones.

Integrity is one of the core positive character qualities.  The word integrity comes from the Latin word ‘integritas’, meaning wholeness, coherence, rightness, or purity. Integrity has been defined as consistency between word and deed or “the perceived degree of congruence between the values expressed by words and those expressed through action.”1

Character originates from the Greek word charassein, which means to scratch or engrave.
Referring to a person’s character is a way of recognizing that person’s idiosyncratic attributes
or features.  Character can be good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.

Definitions of character vary. Hillman defines character as an “invisible source of personal
consistency” and “deep structures of personality that are particularly resistant to change.2
Other definitions differ: from explaining character as an individual set of attributes that deal
with “doing the right thing despite outside pressure to the contrary,”3

Fundamentally good character is the positive, healthy internal habits that you develop that results in ultimate, authentic success. Good habits = success. Bad habits = failure.

The character crisis we are having now is based on the reality that we have lost the straight lines needed to form healthy habits that become our foundational character.

Things to read…

1. Woden, S. (2003). The role of integrity as a mediator in strategic leadership: a recipe for reputational capital. Journal of Business Ethics, 46(1), 31., op cit.

2. Spears, L.C. (2000). On character and servant-leadership: ten characteristics of effective, caring leaders.  Concepts & Connections, 8(3).

3, Barlowe, C.B., Jordan, M. and Hendrix, W.H. (2003).  Character assessment: an examination of leadership levels. Journal of Business and Psychology, 17 (4), 563-584.

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