A Peyton Manning Workplace

Originally published November 15, 2017 by The Montrose Daily Press

Character is what you do when no one’s watching. Right?

I am a person who believes all people are inherently good. Deep inside, we want to do the right thing and we act in accordance with that behavior as part of our guiding principles every day.

But then something happens. We make a mistake at work. A mistake that could cost the company a lawsuit, or if discovered could cost us our job. And suddenly, we are faced with a choice. Should we lie? Should we cover it up? Is it worth the risk? Or should we come clean even though it could mean losing everything?

We’ve seen many companies go through the same struggle. It is discovered that they have been using unethical business practices or unsafe product components. Or there’s a harassment scandal. Possibly one of the more famous examples in recent American history: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewensky.”

Integrity can not only prevent the Oval Office situations of the world, but it can also help clean them up. Goodness may be born into people, but integrity is a discipline.

How to practice integrity at work (and life):

1. Make the “right” decision every time, even if it is the hard one. Over time, this steady and reliable practice will give you credibility and trustworthiness amongst your peers, superiors, business partners, customers and beyond. Don’t cut corners: Leaving an empty copier for the next person because you’re too lazy to refill it with paper. Not doing what’s in the best interest of the company or someone on the other side of the contract. Making a decision that benefits you financially, but ultimately is not good for your client. Do what is right. Reputation capital is a valuable currency.

2. Always tell the truth. Always. Even when faced with the ultimate difficult truth. Tell it. We all mess up. If you pay attention long enough, you will discover that everyone stumbles. Some more public or scandalous than others, but every dog has its day. People with integrity not only tell their truth when their day comes, but they also put down the stones when they find themselves in a glass house.

3. The tiny details matter. Even if it is only you who will ever find out, the tiny cracks in your integrity will eventually lead to bigger ones. Be honest in the time you actually work. Don’t abuse the company expense account; even if you’re the business owner. We all accidentally make off with pens and various office supplies, but you know the line. Exactly how many pages a month are you printing on the company printer? It’s not about the trivial cost of copies. It’s about the gut check in knowing you’re doing the right thing. No one owes you anything. Get away from that mindset or it will eventually lead you down a path to a more compromising and serious situation.

4. Use “we.” People with integrity give the credit when there are successes and they take the blame when there are failures. We’ve talked about this before. None of us are doing our job alone. Your success has been fueled by the work, advice, inspiration or companionship of others. As Tim McGraw says: “Let yourself feel the pride, but always stay humble and kind.”

5. Keep your word and your commitments. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. And mean it.

Last week the Board of County Commissioners presented long time community volunteer Rich Jakino with the Distinguished Citizen Award. In his congratulation to Mr. Jakino, Commissioner Glen Davis put it this way: “In the end, it doesn’t matter if you won or lost the game; it matters how you played the game. And you sir, have played the game well.”

In other words, be a Peyton Manning in a world full of Cam Newtons. Omaha!

Chelsea Rosty is the executive director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce and director of Business Innovation, City of Montrose. Reach her at chelsea@montrosechamber.com.