Integrity is the trait of sticking to your ethics and moral principles at all times. Examples of a person with integrity include someone who keeps their promises, takes personal responsibility for their actions, treats others with respect at all times, and follows the rules.
When you apply for a job, you’re often asked to show an example of how you have integrity in your application letter. The following integrity examples can help you think up ways you might have shown personal integrity in your life.
Examples of Integrity
1. Keeping Promises
A person who keeps promises is showing that they stand by their morals and ethics. If they didn’t keep the promise, they would show they do not have the trustworthy, honest, and dependable characteristics that you need in a friend or reliable colleague. You’d probably not confide in them again!
2. Keeping Secrets
Keeping secrets is an ideal way to demonstrate your integrity to people who confide in you. By demonstrating that you can keep a secret, people will develop greater trust in you and believe that you have moral fiber. In a job application, for example, you could talk about how you have consistently shown your ability to be trusted with sensitive company data.
3. Not Letting Someone Else Take the Blame
Everyone with a sibling remembers a time in their childhood when their brother or sister got blamed when it was really your own fault. As an adult, you should have the integrity and moral character to step up and admit fault to protect innocent people from getting into trouble for something you did.
Related: 27 Examples of Morals
4. Not Gossiping
Gossips are people who share knowledge about people that might be embarrassing to the person being talked about. An example might be talking about a relationship break-up behind someone’s back. They might not want you to talk about it because it’s upsetting to them!
If you gossip, people will see you as someone who doesn’t act with integrity. You are saying hurtful things.
In the workplace, a gossip might not get a promotion because they’re seen as being untrustworthy with sensitive information.
5. Doing the Right thing without Expecting a Reward
A great proactive way to show your integrity to others is to do the right thing, even when you don’t expect a reward. This might mean giving money back to the cashier when they give you too much change or helping out a friend by paying for their meal.
When you do this, you show that you’re a moral person. You’re doing things not for the social status or expecting to get something for yourself. Instead, you’re acting out of a sense of universal ethics.
6. Paying your Taxes
A person with integrity will make sure that they pay their taxes because they know it’s the right thing to do. They know that the rules of fairness mean they have to contribute money into the pot in order to get the roads, firefighters and other services that they rely upon.
7. Being Polite even when someone is Rude to You
A person who keeps their calm and is polite to rude people does it out of integrity. They are being polite because they hold themselves to high standards and a high moral character. By not losing your cool and remembering your manners, you’re showing that you have high self-standards.
8. Telling the Truth
As children, we used to tell lies whenever we thought we could use them to get our own way. Then, in our teenage and early adult years, we developed the moral codes in our minds that we needed to be more honest when under pressure. We learned that telling the truth even when it doesn’t benefit us is the right thing to do because it’s consistent with a universal moral code that we think everyone should follow.
9. Admitting you Made a Mistake
In sports, you often see sports starts hiding their mistakes to advance their games. For example, in baseball a catcher might drop a ball but stand up and pretend they caught it to the umpire. This does not show integrity!
The sports star with integrity would admit they dropped the ball and carry on with the game. This is because they believe in the spirit of sports: competing on your merits and playing within the rules.
A sports star who admits their mistakes might not be popular at that very moment, but children watching at home will see someone who is an excellent role model for how we want people to behave in life.
10. Working Hard at School or Work
Some people come to school and just play around all day. They don’t pay attention to their teacher or care about their learning. These people are showing poor integrity. They aren’t demonstrating respect for their teacher or the other students around them.
Similarly, at work, there is always that person who cuts corners and plays on their phone when they should be paying attention. These people don’t respect the fact they’re being paid to work, not play. A boss will see this person as having poor work ethic and low trustworthiness.
11. Not Cheating in a Test
Sometimes, everyone will get the chance to cheat. It might be because the teacher has left the classroom so you can quickly search for the answer online, for example.
But it is this moment where we can see who has integrity and who doesn’t. The person who cheats on the test is demonstrating low levels of integrity. They are showing that they will do the wrong and untrustworthy thing if they think they can get away with it.
12. Giving Credit where Credit is Due
This one is common when we see leaders with integrity. They are people who actively go up to others and say “You did a great job. You deserve to be congratulated.”
We can use the example of Lewis and Clark, the pioneers who went on an early European expedition across North America. These two got a lot of credit for their hard work, despite the fact most of the praise should have gone to their native American guide, Sacagawea. A person with integrity should have at every opportunity spoken about Sacagawea’s important contribution to the mission rather than taking all the credit themselves.
13. Apologizing for your Mistakes
When children do the wrong thing, we often ask them to apologize for their mistakes. We encourage them to calm down and help them realize why what they did was wrong.
But we often see adults refusing to apologize for their mistakes. Sometimes they will flat-out refuse to even admit they made a mistake when they clearly did.
But a person who apologizes for their mistakes is a person with integrity. They have the strength to acknowledge they can improve and the honesty to admit it.
14. Following the Spirit of the Rules
Sometimes you can act without integrity while still following the rules. This often happens when people engage in tax evasion.
The key idea of taxation is that everyone pays their fair share so the roads get built and the fireman comes to put out your house.
But some people choose to hide their money in offshore accounts and tax havens. These people pay less tax than the rest of us because they have clever accountants. While this isn’t illegal, some people also might also consider it unethical.
The people avoiding taxes are getting all the benefits of public services but aren’t paying into the funds that pay for all those services. They are avoiding their responsibilities to society, which isn’t something someone with integrity does.
15. Standing up for What’s Right (Even when it’s Tough)
A person with integrity will always stand up for justice. Even when the people around them are encouraging them to break the law or do the wrong thing, they will stand their ground with the knowledge that the right and honorable thing must be done.
We have role models throughout history who have shown us this. Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr. all stood up for justice despite being persecuted.
Why is it Important to have Integrity in the Workplace?
Integrity in the workplace means being a trustworthy, hard-working, and respectful employee.
These are important traits to have because it means that your colleagues and your boss will value your presence.
It could help you to get the next promotion (the boss will promote the person they think is the best and most mature employee) and help to create a better and more comfortable workplace for everyone.
Why is it Important to have Integrity at School?
Integrity in school means being a mature student who the teachers and your classmates can trust to do the right thing at all times.
A student with integrity will be trusted with more advanced tasks and activities, will be liked more by others, and will probably get good grades (because they will work hard and do their homework)!
Why is it Important to have integrity in your Personal Life?
While integrity at school and work are important, personal integrity is by far the most important of all the traits.
Personal integrity means respecting and honoring your parents, partner, and children. It means always doing the best by them and trying to live up to the values you were taught as a child.
Your integrity will help you in life. You will be more liked, have more friends, and get into far less arguments with loved ones!
Who are some Examples of Leaders with Integrity?
Many people who act with integrity are punished for doing so. They are harmed for standing up for their morals and principles. Below are a few:
- Nelson Mandela – Nelson Mandela went to prison because he stood up for equal rights in his country. He was widely considered to be a political prisoner because of his moral stance.
- Rosa Parks – Rosa Parks kept her seat on a segregated bus despite knowing it would lead her to prison. Why did she do this? Because she believed it was the right thing to do. She stood by her moral convictions no matter the consequences.
- Alexander the Great – Legend says that Alexander the Great always led from the front when he took his troops into battle. He never asked other people to do things he wasn’t willing to do himself.
What’s the Difference between Honesty and Integrity?
Integrity and honesty are regularly confused. Being honest is part of integrity, but integrity is far more than that.
To have integrity means to not only be honest but also be guided by moral principles. You stand up for the right thing (even when it’s hard), you are polite, and you speak up when you think justice should be done.
Take, for example, gossiping. An honest person could also be a gossip (so long as what they’re gossiping about is true). But a person with integrity does not gossip because they are guided by their moral character, which says gossiping is wrong.
Related Required Skills For Students And Employees
Here are some other skills you might need to be able to demonstrate as a successful employee or college student:
Integrity is one of the most important traits you can develop in life. It is a trait that leaders and wise people need. But it’s also a trait that will get you a lot of respect from the people around you and may even make you a lot of friends! The true sign of a person with integrity is someone who does the moral thing even when it’s hard. Examples include apologizing when you’re wrong, choosing not to cheat, and choosing not to gossip.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.