Professional Values: How Do They Impact Your Career Success?
Professional values and ethics are perhaps the most emblematic qualities of a person’s character – and they have a significant impact on career success. Individuals who want to succeed will go the extra mile to meet their goals and work obligations. It shows – and it pays off.
Your values and ethics guide the decisions you make. Staying true to them results in myriad benefits for your reputation and your career.
Your reputation plays a major role in whether or not you enjoy a successful career. Regardless of your field, the professional values and ethical principles that steer your decisions form the basis of that reputation.
Others form opinions of you based on the decisions you make. The behaviors you exhibit at every stage of your career contribute to creating your professional reputation.
Building a positive reputation takes time, but you can tear it down in an instant. A damaged reputation can be difficult or even impossible to mend. If you become known as someone who greys the lines when it comes to ethical decision making, that’s the reputation you’ll be branded with over the long term.
It has a domino effect. Your poor reputation leads to lost respect, which can destroy trust between you and those with whom you work and do business. The fallout can be missed opportunities for advancement and even job loss or difficulty finding new employment. In the most extreme cases, the end result can be civil or criminal penalties.
Control Your Reputation
Avoid the pitfalls of a marred reputation by ensuring that co-workers, customers and peers perceive you as someone who thinks and acts in an ethical manner and exhibits appropriate values – without exception. Consistently behave in a manner that makes it impossible for people to see you any other way.
Demonstrating healthy values enables your employees to trust you. Similarly, your direct reports and coworkers can help or hinder your career via the ethics they portray on the job. You’re all in this together.
Values guide your sense of what’s important. Some values take priority over others and where they rank in your mind and heart impacts your career choices. For instance:
Valuing security over achievement makes you more risk averse. Your best strategy may be keeping your current job versus leaving for a risky new opportunity.
If you value achievement more than security, you may want to take the leap. You’ll consider the pros and cons, but you’ll be more inclined to risk what you have now for the uncertain chance of something bigger.
Your ethics are an outgrowth of your upbringing, experiences and lifelong relationships. They ground your behavior as you differentiate right from wrong. Your professional ethics may also be driven by your education or profession. For instance, accredited PR professionals adhere to a Code of Ethics established by the Public Relations Society of America.
Ethical behavior strengthens people’s trust in you. This leads to increased support for your ideas, better cooperation at work, and enhanced leadership opportunities.
The Importance of Integrity
The primary function of leadership is ensuring positive outcomes – and the integrity of both management and employees is critical to this result. Integrity is a pact that every individual makes to tell the truth, meet their professional responsibilities and keep their promises.
Staying true to your values and ethics builds integrity. Compromising your beliefs weakens your self-respect and can make you resent your work, your colleagues or yourself. Even when there is pressure to do otherwise, plant your feet and hold firm.
Ultimately, integrity is a choice. While influenced by countless factors, it cannot be forced. A professional with well-defined standards of integrity behaves with wholeness, integration and honesty and does well by themselves and by others.