Communication: Bridging Integrity and Flexibility
In a past post, I talked about the importance of maintaining integrity through change. Integrity is keeping thought, word, and action consistent with one’s core values. In a fast-paced, constantly changing environment, such as with startups, it might seem difficult to maintain consistency. It might seem more important to be flexible to stay nimble in a world where change is the only constant.
The trick is to be clear about where to be flexible, and where to hold fast to ethical principles. Think of core values as the overarching guidelines to which we adhere as individuals, teams, and organizations. For instance, a core value might be “respect every team member.” Ideally, every action we take follows this basic rule, and stays within these boundaries.
Flexibility comes into play when we put our goals into action: there are multiple pathways to get to a particular outcome, and some subset of those options adhere to our core values. A key bridge between integrity and flexibility is communication, especially in team environments where work happens at a relentless pace. Dates, meetings, priorities, and more are constantly being re-evaluated. In these conditions, it’s important to communicate clearly and in real time to avoid misunderstandings, disengagement, and breaches of core values.
For example, a core value in a company might be respecting cultural diversity. To practice this guiding principle, it would be important for team members to understand and value cultural differences in their organization. If a team member inadvertently disrespects another’s cultural practice, communication becomes crucial to resolve the situation to maintain integrity with the core value of respect.
Without communication, the fabric of teamwork can fall apart rapidly. To achieve and sustain a healthy balance between integrity and flexibility, use clear communication in a timely way. Tell me how your organization handles the balance between integrity, flexibility, and communication.