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  • Writer's pictureViva Sarah Press

Integrity: Those who lack it, don't understand it

I worked at a job once where cutting corners was not just par for the course; it was the main directive.

From go, the accuracy and openness I brought to the job were flagged as curiosities by the manager.

Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the world’s most esteemed business leaders, says there are 12 questions that help employers determine integrity.

In retrospect, I could have benefited from early tips to determine integrity among the supervisor – but I figured it out rather quickly and left.

Warren Buffett’s first question: Tell about a time when you experienced a loss for doing what is right. How did you react?

I would love to sit down with Mr. Buffett and explain why I walked away from a job I loved. And that I would do it again if I was faced with the same situation.

I am a huge believer in open and honest communication. I believe this builds team trust. In fact, I know it does. I have held numerous jobs (both as a member of a team and as a leader) and have worked with great teams. The better the communication, the better the camaraderie and the more efficient in getting assignments done.

Which is why in the case about which I’m writing, it was peculiar to find myself in two one-way dialogues. I put my thoughts and ideas on the table but said manager would keep important bits of info off the table and tweak rules at whim. We were swimming in two opposite directions.

When I asked to speak about our different opinions or my unsettling thoughts regarding the client’s needs being altered without their knowledge, I was told I had “too much integrity” and should learn to cut corners.

Who knew too much integrity was even possible. And cutting corners is not something I wanted to learn.

Moreover, the more I wanted to talk about possibilities of finding common ground, the more said manager couldn’t find time to do so.

Those who lack integrity, I realized, don’t and can’t understand it.

For me, one of the last “nails” came when I was told to be happy that I had the job and the fortune to work for said manager. I was reminded, in that same conversation, that my inability and opposition to round corners was bothersome and that I should remedy the situation.

Looking back, I see how futile it was to have even tried to stay on so that I could continue doing the part of the job I enjoyed. It was an impossible case of juggling my manager’s untruthfulness, the client’s obliviousness and my integrity.

The job I loved became a job I couldn’t love because of certain twisting behind-the-scenes.

I could have stayed. I was great at my job. I chose to leave.

The manager was stunned when I did.

Added thought:

Perhaps, the “loss” as per the question was not a loss at all. I learned a great lesson that I have taken with me forward to other jobs: integrity is not a dirty word. I know there are many others who stand by their word/work ethic and I absolutely love working with them!


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