Character Traits: Integrity

The Real You, Everywhere, All the Time

Would you prefer to hire people of good character or bad character? Silly question…perhaps even sillier is to ask whether you want to be known as a person of good character or bad. But what is good character?

IntegrityThere are countless adjectives that could describe aspects of good character. I use a model that describes it in terms of three TRAITS: Integrity, Selflessness, and Responsibility. Each of those traits can be further detailed as a set of ATTRIBUTES. (See diagram.)


In grade school we learned about integers – whole numbers, not fractions. That’s the essence of the word integrity: To be complete, consistent, undivided. With a person of integrity, what you see is what you get. You don’t wonder which person you’ll see under today’s circumstances; you can count on them to be real all the time. Even if being real causes them personal discomfort or even pain.

Attributes of Integrity

Here are the key attributes in our definition of integrity:

  • Trustworthy – A trustworthy person has good intentions and keeps their promises.
  • Transparent – Transparency is willingness to be vulnerable and share information and perspectives with others.
  • Authentic – An authentic person is not pretentious, posturing, or insincere. You don’t have to worry about their ulterior motives.
  • Honest – It’s easy to be honest when it doesn’t cost anything. But a person of integrity is honest even when it comes with personal pain or cost.
  • Loyal – Remaining supportive even when it would be easier to turn away.

The Cost of Integrity

The attributes of integrity (or any character attribute, for that matter) don’t mean much until we face a choice that puts them to the test. Will I be honest and admit my own mistakes? Transparent enough to admit that I don’t have an answer I’m expected to have? Authentically admit I see things differently than the popular opinion?

It doesn’t require integrity to make choices that cost me nothing. Integrity accepts the risks that come with being consistent and true to my own values in every situation. It’s being willing to make the right choice rather than the easy choice.

People with integrity don’t have to make excuses. They stick with the truth even if the truth makes them look bad.

If your family, friends, employees, bosses, vendors, and other acquaintances were all in a room together, would they be surprised by the way the others described your character? Some may see certain attributes more deeply than others. But integrity means their descriptions won’t conflict because you’re the same person everywhere, all the time.

We aren’t born with character; we develop or destroy it one choice at a time throughout our whole lives.

The Character Traits article on Responsibility is available at

The Character Traits article on Selflessness is available at © 2019 enLumen Leadership Services

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