Getting a job may be easy especially when one has the necessary requirements but real work is in keeping it and eventually growing it into a career. You need integrity to do this.
Late last year, a scandal rocked the country when State minister for Labour, Employment and Industrial Relations, Herbert Kabafunzaki, was arrested shortly after allegedly taking a bribe of Shs5m. According to reports, the money was part payment of total of Shs10m he had demanded from Aya Group boss Mohammned Hamid to help him sort out a one Jamila Opondo who had accused him of sexual harassment.
This incident is a typical description of what lack of integrity looks like. The Merriam-Webster defines integrity as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change.
Integrity encompasses various qualities such as honesty, uprightness, honour, ethics, morals, decency, sincerity, truthfulness and trustworthiness, among others. These qualities are the foundation of a great career.
Seventy five-year-old former civil servant John Willy Ndyomugyenyi says the most important legacy one can leave behind in their career is their integrity. “I do not have riches, but I have a good name. It is this name that opens doors for me and my family wherever we go. During my career days, people were ethical and had morals. These days, people have abandoned their integrity for quick money. We need to go back to the basics where ethics and integrity mean something. And it begins with you and me,” he implores.
According to Ndyomugyenyi, one of the most important qualities needed in the workplace is trust. If you make a commitment you should be able to see it through.
For example if you promise to deliver a report on Tuesday at midday, make sure that report is on your supervisor’s desk on Tuesday at 11.58am because all it takes is failing to meet that deadline once to permanently impact your reputation. People have to know that you can be trusted, you are reliable and disciplined. This reputation will win you more praise than good grades.
As you embark on your career, you will meet situations that will test the strength of your integrity. For example in situations where you have an opportunity to make quick cash for just bending the truth a little bit.
A few years ago, Arua-Grade II Magistrate, Marcello Alioni, sentenced newspaper reporter Ronald Afeku to 10 months in prison after finding him guilty of soliciting a bribe.
Afeku had asked for a Shs2m bribe from BAT Uganda to “kill” a story related to an accident in which about 10 people died when the company truck overturned. There are so many other situations that might seem harmless at the moment but have far-reaching consequences. To build a good reputation, you should be prepared to always do the right thing even when no one is watching, and even when the choice is not easy.
As Ndyomugyenyi says, many of us have to make decisions that define who we are and what we believe in. Most often, the choices we face may seem insignificant. But this does not mean they are not important to us: even the smallest action can have an impact on our self-respect, integrity, and, ultimately, our reputation.
For instance we have heard of “the carpet interviews phenomena” where a boss expects sexual favours from an interviewee in return for a job. In a world where headlines are often dominated by people who seem to be succeeding even after making wrong choices it becomes really difficult to do what is right.
However, once you make the right choice, the dividends far outweigh the instant gratification of getting a job you are unqualified for. Not only does it feel good to live and work with integrity but when we become known for this highly valued trait, our lives and our careers can flourish.
Regain lost integrity
A frequent question is “can you get your integrity back after losing it?” The quick answer is yes, but with a lot of hard work, seeking forgiveness from those you wronged, working to correct the wrong, slowly rebuilding trust, and perhaps the hardest part, truly forgiving yourself for crossing the fine line of integrity. There is a lot of gray in the world across countries, cultures, races and religions, but things are black and white on the integrity front. There is just right and there is wrong with regard to integrity.