Towson’s fall semester begins September 2. Syllabi for my four classes are printed. Class rosters are ready for the first roll call. For weeks now, I’ve been planning lessons that hopefully will help my students learn to be competent communication/PR/IMC professionals.
But I also feel obligated to prepare my students for the “real world” of work and life in general. I wrote about this in the post below, “The Olympics has winners and losers, just like real life.” To effectively face that reality, students and practitioners alike must learn to make wise, ethical, and responsible choices. We all must do the right thing at all times. We must accept responsibility and be accountable for our actions. In so doing, we develop integrity.
Why is integrity important? Integrity, or probity, is all-important to living life responsibly, successfully, richly, fully, and eventually, as a self-actualized individual.
We have codes of ethics from IABC and PRSA to guide us in our work. Many of us have values that we derive from our spiritual beliefs to govern our personal conduct. And in the end, we must accept responsibility for our actions. That takes integrity.
How does this play out in the real world?
- Students — study hard, follow instructions, do assignments on time, correctly, with attention to detail, show up on time to all classes ready to participate in a meaningful way, and do not cheat or plagiarize. Students who do this, who accept that they are responsible for their success, should achieve course objectives and score high grades.
- Practitioners — devote themselves to continuous learning and professional development, do their assignments on time, correctly, with attention to detail, show up on time and participate in a meaningful way on the job, and practice ethically and morally. Practitioners who do this, who accept that they are responsible for their success, should achieve desired results and will earn higher salaries, bonuses, promotions, perks, and career advancement.
Common denominators with both groups are accepting responsibility, being accountable, and acting with integrity. These are fundamental ingredients for success.
Joe Gibbs, the famous football coach and owner of the NASCAR team, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), provides us with a great lesson to support this thinking. NASCAR recently suspended seven of his crew members and stripped his drivers Tony Stewart and Joey Logano of 150 points each for cheating after last week’s Nationwide series race in Michigan. Two of JGR’s crew chiefs were suspended indefinitely and fined $50,000 each.
A man of integrity, Gibbs accepted the ruling and said he would not appeal the penalties. He apologized to all concerned, taking “100 percent” of the blame for his team. He also said he would take further disciplinary action against his team members.
Gibbs said that in 17 years of NASCAR racing, no representative of JGR ever knowingly acted outside of NASCAR rules. Gibbs is a man of honor and never would knowingly condone cheating to win. He does not need to. Gibbs’ cars have dominated the Nationwide series this season, winning 14 of 25 races.
Lessons learned: Gibbs runs his team and his life with integrity and accepts the responsibility and accountability for its and his own actions. So must students and practitioners (and instructors, too).