“Ethos, Core Values & Standards” What is Integrity?

I have written in the past couple of months about the Royal Air Force’s Ethos, Core Values and Standards and explained that the subject is looked at in four areas: Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence (RISE). I promised that I would look this month at Integrity. The Royal Air Force source of information on this is AP1 and, as I have mentioned before, it is a short booklet that is simple to read and easy to apply to many areas of your Service life.

There are many of us who believe that Integrity is the most important of our Core Values in service and in life. Integrity is the courage to do what is right in all circumstances. It is the basis for the trust that is essential for the Royal Air Force to operate effectively. Integrity is vital in establishing trust and confidence between individuals in any environment, and especially between those who may face hardship and danger. Integrity is based on several other moral principles: Moral Courage; Honesty; Responsibility; and Justice.

Moral courage
Moral courage is the conviction to do what you believe to be right, even though it might be unpopular. This can be difficult when among work-colleagues or friends, but we rely on each other to do the right thing. This includes the courage to refuse to compromise personal values in the face of opposition and, importantly, to sustain the highest standards of decency and behaviour; I have found that this quickly earns the respect of others and builds trust. Courage, both physical and moral, forms the bedrock upon which bravery, fighting spirit and success depend.

Honesty is a way of life in the Royal Air Force because, as members of a professional armed service, our word must never be in doubt. Some of us may have experienced a time where someone’s deceit, dishonesty or breach of trust or confidence calls into question an individual’s reliability. It is usually the case that, if an individual is found to be dishonest or disloyal, trust between friends and work colleagues will be damaged; it can be extremely awkward and the tension created within a team will reduce its effectiveness.

Responsibility demands that we are fair and consistent at all times in every aspect of our lives. Truly responsible people acknowledge their duty and act accordingly. Only then can we earn the respect and loyalty that are essential to good leadership and followership. Responsibility is all-pervasive and is not something that we can pick and choose in part.

A person of integrity practices just behaviour and treatment. It is vital in the Royal Air Force that there is fairness of treatment for all and that justice is done and is seen to be done without favour, as it is equally as vital in our family lives and within our community. Moral courage, honesty and integrity builds trust within the wider RAF Marham family and, as such, I consider it to be a bedrock of community. Those in a RAF work environment will understand ‘Just Culture’ in which we sustain an open and honest reporting culture in which all personnel, regardless of status or experience, can expect to be treated in a fair, consistent, objective and timely manner. Just Culture is equally applicable in our community; many of you live your lives to this value without even realising that the RAF has terminology for it! It can sometimes be difficult to practise Just Culture; there are many pressures on us not to, but it is something that we must all strive to do.

Core Values are important to us in all aspects of our lives – they stay with us at all times and we should work hard to live by them. Integrity touches every relationship we have, at work, at home, and with friends. To quote a favourite book of mine: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,… think about such things.

Next month I will look at Service.

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