Integrity is Alive

I was recently working in a national security facility and witnessed a terrific example of integrity. I was escorted into a highly restricted area by a couple of staff members. As I was almost through the card and password controlled gate, one of my escorts remembered to verify if I had a cell phone on me, as those are considered a major security breach. Unfortunately I did. The gate was similar to a revolving door, so I immediately re-exited the way I came in. No harm no foul, right?

The very next thing the escorts did was get on the phone and report the incident. As a guest, I was not the one responsible for ensuring I was electronics free, my escorts were. And they immediately reported themselves for allowing this breach. The fact that I never officially left the gate – and there was no one around – and the gate actually exited into a plain lobby where there was nothing of value, they still made the call. They could have easily overlooked the situation because it was so minor. But without blinking an eye, they immediately reported it, because for them, there was a solid line in the sand about what constitutes a security breach, and we crossed it.

Leaders understand the importance of living values and celebrating those who do. My escorts will likely be pointedly reminded of their miscue and the need to be more attentive. There are consequences for incidents like this. I Just hope they work with leaders who will also acknowledge them for their visible demonstration of uncompromising integrity. I certainly wanted to recognize it, and hope all of us have the courage to follow their great example when we face a similar moment of truth.

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