Integrity builds trust, confidence within Army workforce

By Kari HawkinsSeptember 1, 2020

Army Value of integrity builds collaboration
The Army Value of integrity is essential to building working teams that are high performing and successful. At the Army Materiel Command, integrity ensures employee teams are equipped with dependable information, sound decision-making and appropriate delegation of authority as they collaborate to achieve Army readiness. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

Editor's Note: This is the sixth in a 7-part series on Army Materiel Command's enduring commitment to the Army Values as the organization celebrates its 58th birthday in August. This installment is focused on the Army Value of integrity.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The Army’s mission success is based on its trust and confidence in the ability of each Soldier and civilian employee to follow the rules and principles of the organization as they work toward readiness goals.

While the Army’s external system of rules and laws is known as ethics, it’s the Army Value of integrity that ensures an employee’s actions and behaviors are right, both legally and morally. With this understanding, Army Materiel Command employees recognize their ongoing commitment to the Army Value of integrity ensures the organization is equipped with dependable information, sound decision-making and appropriate delegation of authority.

“The leaders I’ve seen who are most effective understand and live the Army Values, understand the ethical rule set and then they make decisions and provide the right guidance and treat people the right way based on their integrity. It’s about absorbing the value of integrity and living it every day,” said Maj. Gen. Bob Harter, AMC’s chief of staff.

While Army Values like respect, loyalty and personal courage can carry various definitions based on an employee’s culture, background or experience, integrity only has one meaning – truth.

“Integrity means I must be true to myself, my family, my supervisor and co-workers and anyone who places trust in me. Integrity is non-negotiable, once violated it is perhaps the hardest element in life to restore as trust is lost,” said Ed Francis, program analyst for AMC’s G-1 Total Force, Military Support and Family Programs.

“Integrity violations at that leader level can tear down an organization and can create a cancerous environment that can quickly spread through the employee or Soldier unit, creating uncertainty and ultimately impacting readiness.”

How an organization – whether government or industry – views the importance of integrity is set by its senior leaders, said AMC attorney Larry Wilde.

“The ethical climate of every organization is set from the top,” he said. “It is the single most important thing. The only way for leaders to effectively emphasize the Army Value of integrity is to visibly and consistently display it. Mere words are not enough.”

Perception has a significant role in establishing integrity, Harter said.

“Leaders lead by example. If employees know the leader is adhering to the same standards they are expected to adhere to, they are okay with the tough decisions, even if they don’t agree with them because they know the leader is acting in the best interest of the Army and the organization, and they have faith and trust in that leader,” he said.

(Photo Credit: Graphic by Robert L. Fisher) VIEW ORIGINAL

Integrity is most visible within an organization when issues arise, Ed Francis said.

“When mission accomplishment is facing challenges or mistakes occur in the process, an employee with integrity will disclose all details and admit to challenges or mistakes,” he said.

More than any other Army Value, integrity is built on layers – the more it is exhibited, the more trust and respect it inspires.

“Leading from the front and demonstrating integrity in everyday actions, empowers employees to do the same. This shared philosophy makes the organization stronger and makes individuals realize they are part of something bigger than themselves,” said Valerie Francis, AMC’s Health Promotion program manager and Master Resilience trainer.

“Leaders who demonstrate integrity in their everyday actions gain the respect of employees and greatly impact the organization's culture. Leading by example can instill integrity throughout the workforce to achieve the mission.”

When an employee team holds each other accountable to the value of integrity it builds team cohesion, Valerie Francis said.

“A shared vision of integrity fosters the ability for employees to work together in a unified manner. When honesty and high moral standards are shared by the group, trust is built which leads to collaboration and mission success,” she said.

“The shared demonstration of integrity between supervisors/leaders and their employees sets the climate for the team. Knowing your teammates will always do the right thing, even if no one is looking, solidifies the relationship.”

Violations of integrity should be treated in a consistent manner, without preference to specific employees, Ed Francis said. Senior leaders should ensure all leaders within the organization implement the same integrity standard.

“Senior leaders must encourage the leaders under their supervision to do the right thing. Their actions can affect an employee’s potential and ultimately an organization,” he said.

Likewise, when integrity is not prevalent in an organization or is not consistently enforced among employees, employee discontent and high turnover can result, Ed Francis said.

Employees who are valued, who hold themselves accountable and who are tied closely to the mission are more likely to value integrity in the workplace, said Tora Henry, AMC’s Equal Employment Opportunity program manager.

“When you care about your work and you care about the end product, you are going to do the right thing,” she said.

Acting with integrity is important even when others do not value it.

“Each of us is responsible for our own actions,” Valerie Francis said. “We should allow honesty and high moral standards to reflect in our everyday actions, regardless of those around us. Others are watching and by acting with integrity, we might influence others to do so also.”

Employees are more productive and committed to their mission when their integrity – an internal moral compass – and their organization’s ethics -- an external force of laws – are compatible.

“Army values and the ethics rules are inherently intertwined with what it means to be a Federal employee and public servant,” Wilde said. “The decisions and actions that we take every day reflect our values and personal integrity. They therefore serve to reinforce or undermine the public’s trust in the integrity of the Army as an institution.”