Honesty Matters

By Guest Blogger: Ken Byler, Owner, Higher Ground Consulting Group, LLC

Since my blog title isn’t phrased as a question, you can assume I believe this short statement to be true.

There was a time in American history when integrity mattered, reputations were valued, and character was more important than money or status.

Today’s leaders and businesses often forget the important role that honesty plays in shaping client relationships, attracting and retaining dedicated employees, and building goodwill that creates a lasting brand.

Why It’s Important

Small businesses have the most to lose by not practicing honesty. They are generally more leveraged financially with less capital to invest in marketing and public relations campaigns.

Owners represent the “face” of these enterprises so their own personal reputations are on the line when things go wrong.

There is also the power of “word of mouth” to quickly affect the community’s opinion in a negative way if fraud or deceptive business practices are uncovered. Entire industries, like remodeling, can suffer a damaged reputation at the hands of one unscrupulous contractor.  

A Personal Story

A number of years ago my wife and I ate breakfast at a favorite local restaurant. The friendly person at the cash register was Mary, a friend from church.

As I reached for my credit card, she produced a separate receipt and $1.37 that she placed on the counter. When she had rung up a lunch ticket earlier in the week for my wife, the cash register had failed to override a mistaken entry on her part and this money represented what we were owed in change.

After the initial shock, we both responded in amazement that an error had been found. We asked why she had held the money so it could be returned to us. After all, it was a small sum with little implications for our family budget.

Mary knew why honesty was important. Her simple acknowledgement of a mistake, sincere apology on behalf of the business, and restitution of our $1.37 left a lasting impression.

Leaders in every industry would benefit from teaching employees about honesty and empowering them to make things right with customers. They would do well to model truth telling in the workplace and marketplace.

Our experience with Mary is a wonderful reminder that integrity matters, regardless of the size of the mistake.

Filed in: Client News