Professionalism is now increasingly synonymous with a work ethic built on synergising trusting relationships. Society demands that we raise the bar on our personal excellence. In application what does that mean in our daily lives?

Our individual values and beliefs are integral to our code of conduct, and that is what determines how we show up to the rest of the world. Integrity goes beyond being an honest or merely loyal person, it alludes to a behaviour better described as strong moral principles which one adheres to. This has been parlayed by organizations as a mission or vision statement, which defines the spirit or soul of the company. As individuals we are called to have this vision for ourselves so that we may operate more effectively in our professional and personal lives.

Living by our principles means that we have identified and live by certain standards. Having the courage to model this behaviour can have a profound influence on others. Each of us has the potential to affect our environment just as that of water falling drop by drop into a still pond. What may seem a mere insignificant ripple grows with momentum as it moves outwards and gathers speed. It could literally start a chain reaction and inspire others to do the same thing.

Truthfulness, consistency and trustworthiness are cornerstones to every successful business. People are ultimately key to defining the quality and brand of a company regardless of the product. Employers who establish a foundation built on punctuality, responsibility and honoring of commitments, create a road map to success. The most inspiring leader’s in the history of mankind have been role models who have promoted the culture of their company by their own exemplary behavior. Consistent application of their principles provide a bench mark for those who also aspire to the same greatness. When excellence is constantly polished, the integrity of a company cannot help but shine forth and it’s luster glow out amongst other organizations.

Trust is built on honest communications and the keeping of promises, and if we are unable to keep our agreements we are better off knowing our limits and saying so, rather than not keeping up our side of the bargain. If we over promise and under deliver, the back lash ends up in a loss of credibility. As service providers, if this practice is condoned by the company one works with it will eventually affect the organization we represent and its reputation. Unfortunately, it does not take much for confidence in an organizations ability to perform at this most intrinsic level to be compromised.

The relationship that tests our levels of integrity most is that of the employer towards the employee and vice versa. It is the most direct expression of authority encountered initially in our working environment. This relationship is based on taking directions, and carrying out assignments to the best of our ability, under clear guidance from our immediate employer.

What happens when the employer does not fulfill the role of mentor and guide? The important issue here is not about being in favor of your direct employer, it’s about doing the right thing when you are caught in the midst of a challenging situation. There are limits in how flexible one can be, and it is ultimately those very principles that determine what you will and will not do regardless of the pressure to do otherwise. If you witness inner manipulations within your organization which do not align with your values, choose not to engage in it. It is crucial to understand that no matter how unfair a situation may be, it must not detract from our respect of ourselves as human beings which in turn outwardly manifests itself in our respect of others. ‘How’ we do what we do is as relevant as ‘why’ we do it.

Every day we are involved in scenarios which will require us to make a stand and show up in our lives. It can be tempting to lie or slant the truth or even lie by omission. However, if one decides not to lie, and that’s the bottom line, then there is no two ways about. It may be easier said then done, but, if we can think of it as an internal mental muscle that gets stronger with exercise, the more we practice the easier it becomes and it will eventually exist on it’s own terms and cease to be an issue. On the other hand, choosing to turn a blind eye or compromise once in a while for the sake of peace, means that the inner conflict experienced will be a far greater violation where one’s conscience will be at stake. The rewards of being congruent with our principles and living by our word means that we earn the right to the respect of our colleagues, peers and most importantly maintaining our own self worth.

It pays to foster a working environment which honors individuality and differences whilst keeping in sight the common goal. It encourages individuals to believe in themselves and to behave according to that belief. Trust is forged and transparency honored. The happiest employees are the most productive employees.

Our individual road maps, certainly do not define the territory however, having a clear idea of how we would behave in circumstances beyond our control diffuse the act of compromising our ethical boundaries whilst maintaining our values and integrity. As Gandhi said, “A "No" uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a "Yes" merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble”.