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Integrity Matters

7 Jul, 2022

By Daz Farrell

I am a bit of a word nerd. I think there is great power in words. As Rabbi Abraham Herschel said, “Words build worlds.” The word “integration” shares the same Latin root word as “integrity”.  “Integer” meaning “whole”, has been a huge word for me in my role of Executive Ministry Director for churches of Christ in NSW & ACT. 

The definition of integration is “an act or instance of combining into an integral whole”.  

Which is like “integrity”, which the Oxford dictionary describes as:  

  1. the state of being whole and undivided  
  2. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.  

This idea of wholeness also carries an air of differentiation; different parts all join together around what is most important. At Fresh Hope Communities, this looks like all the unique parts/roles, from our aged care communities to the Tops—serving our guests, residents and local community together.  

To live in this wholeness may cost us our comfort at times. As Dr. Brene Brown poetically says, “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. And you choose to practice your values rather than simply professing them.”   

So, what does this look like practically in an organisation like Fresh Hope Communities? Having integrity and functioning to our fullest capacity to serve others could be taking responsibility and owning where we are at with a task—it is both honesty and responsibility. Integrity at times could be, “I don’t know”, “I need help”, or even simply being curious. Being guided by honesty and remaining true to our strong moral principles Dr. Brown says, is going on a journey from “always knowing” into “always learning”. She suggests three practical strategies for teams:  

1. Name the issue.   
It’s a tough conversation, but clear is kind. Examples of a tough conversation include, “I’d like for you to work on your curiosity and critical thinking skills.” “You’re often quick with answers, which can be helpful, but not as helpful as having the right questions, which is how you’ll grow as a leader. We can work together on this.”  
2. Make learning “curiosity skills” a priority.   
Some people may be perceived as naturally curious, and others need to be taught how to be more curious. Don’t assume people aren’t curious because they don’t care. They may not know how to be curious. 

3. Acknowledge and reward great questions.  
Normalise instances of “I don’t know, but I’d like to find out” as daring leadership behaviours. The big shift here is from wanting to “be right” to wanting to “get it right.”  

A diverse team having strong commitments to integrity may require us to “rumble” and practice honesty and vulnerability. It will mean both learning and unlearning for all of us.   

Research by car manufacturers, Toyota, has shown how methods of workplace honesty and feedback have led to increased efficiency and productivity.  

The Toyota Production System is a method which Toyota has implemented that builds continual learning from tiny failures (small process deviations) into its approach to improvement. This process allows for workers on a production line to stop the process of production if they see or make an error or even, anticipate one. Production is halted—despite the impact on profit—until the failure is understood and resolved. Toyota understands that every individual playing their part with integrity influences the outcome of the whole.   

In our “Stories & News” page on our website, you’ll find three other articles on our Organisational values. Across the three articles in this series, we say that connection, optimism and kindness matters. All three of these are important as we seek to be an organisation that operates with integrity. Because we have an optimistic outlook about the future, we can have courage over comfort. We know that there is safety in meaningful connection and that true kindness is being clear.  

Integrity is about all of these values and pieces working together to bring together the parts of a whole. It is a shared project that we hope to reflect in our behaviours as we ourselves experience integration. As we move towards working as a whole staff team, it will be beautiful, it will be attractive. It will build trust and wholeness. Collectively experienced, it will form togetherness and resist sameness. It will pursue unity and diversity in equal measure.  

There is this stunning image in the book The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran; himself an integrator of art, religion and philosophy, that I leave with you in summary:  

“But let there be spaces in your togetherness, 

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.” 

By Daz Farrell

Daz was appointed Executive Ministry Director in February 2021 and provides the spiritual and cultural leadership of churches of Christ in NSW and ACT.