(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


The words integrity and ethics are often used somewhat interchangeably. And incorrectly so.

Ethics describe behavior relative to some defined scale – moral/immoral, right/wrong, just/unjust, etc. There is a place for ethics and for the teachers thereof. Parents, pastors, priests, and professors are some sources for defining ethics.

Integrity is a different matter. From a coaching perspective integrity is when what you think, feel, say, and do are all in alignment, the same. When you think one thing and say another, or say one thing but behave differently, then you are said to be out of integrity. (There are many reasons why you would do that and they are beyond the scope of this S3MC.)

Ethics uses one or more external frames of reference.

Integrity uses a single internal frame of reference.

Both are about you and how you show up in the world.

Note that you can be fully in integrity and still do ‘bad’ (unethical) behavior. In like manner, you can be out of integrity yet do ethical behavior. But if you focus on integrity – aligning your thinking, feeling, speaking, and doing – you will probably also end up being ethical.


Coaching Point: Are you, most of the time, in integrity?


Copyright 2017 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.