The Concept of Integrity

For a number of years, I was involved in various team development activities primarily with Ph.D. students. In these about eight students are put together in a facilitated group and “tortured” over a period of 3-5 days in order to help them develop. The “torture” requires risk and it was not uncommon for people to have a hissy fit or a control drama, during the experience. I facilitated about half a dozen of these groups. I even designed and directed ~6 larger courses under the auspices of the UK GRAD programme. I know a bit about group dynamics. As a consequence, I am interested in this kind of thing, as is the wife. So, we watched the “SAS Who Dares Wins” programme last night in which a bunch of would be macho men are put through their paces. The testing they endure is way more severe, yet thematically linked. Many of the same “issues” surface. Just to be clear I have never had any military training in this lifetime other than when I went along to ~3 sessions at the Royal Marines Reserves. I had put myself up as an officer cadet and because of family connections and my educational background I was accepted as a starter. I quite fancied abseiling down cliffs and using speed boats. At the time I was a Ph.D. student and more interested in the waccy-baccy and Tennent’s Extra, so I left after three sessions. It wasn’t for me after all.

What surfaced in last night’s episode was the concept of integrity. One recruit was flamboyant and a bit of a show man, making pals with everyone. The staff called him in hooded to understand him better. He revealed that he had been in trouble with the law. Something was off and so the staff dug deeper. In his online footprint they found a CV in which he claimed he had served three years in the elite Paratroop Regiment. Now this could have explained his success so far or could have been fantasy. In either case he had somehow completely forgotten to mention it. They called him in again. They pressed, and it turns out he had done about twelve weeks training and then quit. To say that the staff were displeased by his behaviour is to understate. He had, in their eyes, showed a fundamental lack of integrity. They tore him off a strip and he skulked back to his fellows. The next day he quit. He had gotten himself into a mess. If he had said at the outset, I tried it once, fucked up and would like another chance, all would have been dandy. That would have been integrity. You probably would not want to be in a fire-fight with someone of dubious integrity.

This concept of integrity is perhaps a moveable feast. Often, we see people in public life falling short and it speaks volumes that there has to be a kind of watchdog to police this for our politicians. Many of whom in the past have stretched expense claims and the like, way past the elastic limit. So many people are tempted to try to pull “a fast one”. One could say that this is cunning, but does it show integrity? It depends upon what you view as acceptable behaviour and how you yourself are oriented. It is for each individual to decide what is their own personal integrity. Apart from when integrity brings you into conflict with the corrupt, in the long-term integrity causes less problems. There is no concern about being found out and the tendency for mess-generation is reduced. It is comforting to know that one works with people of integrity, because you have your back covered and you don’t need to clean up after them. It is easier to trust people of high integrity than the cunning.

Having cued this up:

What do I think about this concept of integrity?

Is it important to me as an individual?

Have I ever been asked to lower my own personal integrity?

How did that make me feel?