Is purpose the same thing as integrity?

judgeA reader recently reviewed our book, “The Star Factor,” on Amazon. In his review, he talked about workplace performance, personal behavior, and values, and he quoted Warren Buffet: “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.” The quote not only made me laugh, it also got me thinking about one of the questions people often ask me: Does purpose always reflect what some describe as “good moral values” and “integrity”? (People in the United States typically think of morality and integrity as the mostly Judeo-Christian values of social good.) The answer is no. Purpose is relative to an organization or culture. Say, for example, that someone’s environment promotes bank robbery as a virtue. As a result, the compelling purpose of that organization might be to successfully rob banks. This will resonate with others in the environment. Consequently, if the surrounding environment is one of corruption—what we might call a lack of integrity—that might be perfectly fine for everyone involved. Fortunately, most organizations are not focused on robbing banks, and many are using business as a force for good. I’ll write more about purpose-driven organizations in my next post; stay tuned.]]>

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