Honesty vs. Integrity: What’s the Difference?

I think honesty is being true in what you say, while integrity is being true in what you do. Honesty is giving your word, integrity is keeping it.  Leadership communications are important only so far as they match up with actions.

I asked members of my groups over on LinkedIn this question about the differences between honesty and integrity and it stimulated some thought-provoking responses:

  • Group: Linked 2 Leadership
  • Discussion: What’s the difference between honesty and integrity?

My twenty five year old has graduated and begun his own business: Business and Entertainment Filming. He has on numerous occasions had to withdraw from so-called friends for their actions because of his integrity. Your definition is a good way to remember it. Many of these values begin early in life (at home, church, etc.) where the values learned and illustrated are imprinted upon their mind for future use. Some call this brainwashing, well, bad behaviors have been identified through examination and study to do the very same thing to the mind.

As someone I read said, “If you have integrity, it means you have all the traits in its makeup.” These traits are mostly leadership traits such as honesty, trustworthy. You don’t have to be a leader of anyone but yourself to have these.

If you can’t lead yourself, how can you lead anyone else? Leading begins with self-mastery and self discipline. Integrity begins with commitment and willingness to be, do, and have transparent, authentic behavior that implies being a leader of service for self and others.

After all, leadership has two basic functions: Vision (where and why) and Support (how).
Posted by Gene Munson

  • Group: CSCMP – Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals

Integrity = Consistency with absolute honesty and accuracy in ALL actions.
Posted by Jennifer Verellen

  • Group: CSCMP – Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals

Honesty involves telling the truth; the action of representing the facts as you understand them. To achieve integrity is to gain the reputation for persistent and unwavering honesty. The highest level of honesty is representing the facts in a holistic sense, hiding nothing. Over time, this achieves the highest level of integrity and respect.

Transparency has become a term in fashion for the past few years. The intended use in business is to describe an environment of fidelity: that the facts are represented with no hidden or conflicting meanings. This practice in business achieves business integrity. These attributes in an organization are difficult to gain, but result in one that is good to work for and to work with.
Posted by Tim Rother

  • Group: CSCMP – Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals
  • Honesty > transparency > integrity
  • Honesty is being absolutely and consistently truthful to one’s self and to others.
  • Transparency is the recognition of one’s unwavering honesty by others (one could be honest and yet not transparent)

Integrity is therefore the recognition and “certification” of a person’s transparent honesty by others.
Posted by Yunusa Bello

Which raises the issue of transparency. Are businesses really all that transparent? Are leaders transparent with their constituencies and stakeholders? Employees? What do you think?

Quite frankly, it all comes back to having clarity. If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll not only lack clarity, you’ll give mixed messages to people. Which comes back to bite in the form of confusion, or outright impressions of dishonesty. What d’ya think about that? True? Is that what causes someone to be unintentionally dishonest?

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