For example, you are at lunch with a friend. Your main competitor is sitting at the table next to you with a new contact you are meeting with next week. It sounds like he is trying to get the same business you want. Do you stay and listen in on the conversation, hoping that specific details are discussed, allowing you to better his offer or do you excuse yourself knowing that you will have your chance next week?
Your boss has implemented an incentive program based on selling x amounts of widget B, a higher priced alternative to widget A. The extra money would come in handy. Do you push widget B even when widget A meets all your customer’s needs?
And if you are the boss, what would you do if you found out your sales person walked away instead of trying to get the inside scoop on a competitor’s pricing proposal or continued to include widget A as an option when speaking with customers?
In the first case, that insider information may be just what you need to secure the contract and in the second case, revenues are slightly lower when a customer chooses widget A over widget B.
Do we add a couple of dollars on to the blank tax receipt the cab driver hands us? Do you go back to the store when you realize the cashier forgot to charge you for the eggs? Do you look for things to keep you busy even when the boss isn’t looking? Do you wait until the very last minute to tell employees about layoffs to prevent people starting their job search immediately? Do you tell the customer the flooring will be in by Thursday in order to close a sale even though you know full well it will take at least a week longer?
Our integrity is tested every day. Integrity means doing what is right even when no one is looking. It means doing what is right regardless of the consequences. It means being willing to lose a sale if the only way to get that sale is to lie, cheat or steal.
In today’s “the end justifies the means” world, it can be very tempting to start looking for loopholes or the excuse “but everyone is doing it”. ‘The end justifies the means’ is an example of short-term thinking. It takes a long time to build a reputation for honesty and integrity, but that reputation reaps rewards and creates relationships that cross the line of competitor, vendor, customer, employee and boss. A commitment to honesty and integrity is an example of long-term thinking.