In my very first job after graduating university, one of my tasks for the team was to do the ordering of supplies. The one supply person in each team had to be nominated, approved and signatures required and kept on file somewhere in the organisation. (It was a huge government department.)

After coming back from my first recreation leave/holidays I was ordering supplies for the team and noticed that the previous page (the carbonless copy page) in the order book (yes, this was in the old days of pen and paper internal order pads), had an order I didn’t place. As I scanned down the page, I was shocked to see my signature forged.

I took this to my boss and asked if she was aware of this and the shock continued. Her response to me was, “It was only for milk, what does it matter!” 

I’m not often speechless but I was in that moment.

I took a deep breath, collected myself and said, “It’s not the milk, it’s the forged signature that I have a concern with.”

It was right then and there her demeanour changed and our relationship changed forever. She asked me what I was going to do about it and quickly followed that with, “I really think you’re over reacting about all of this.”

That night was a fairly interesting and sleepless night exploring:

Yourdictionary says that to have integrity is to:

follow your moral or ethical convictions and doing the right thing in all circumstances, even if no one is watching you. Having integrity means you are true to yourself and would do nothing that demeans or dishonours you.

The impact that incident had on our relationship made managing up incredibly challenging. I no longer trusted her and she no doubt saw me in a different light.

As a manager your integrity is essential for managing up. Whether it is your wanting to influence up or your team being able to influence you. 

Keeping in mind influence is not manipulation. Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.

And it goes deeper: managing up is not just or simply getting something you want, managing up could be about raising an important issue or opportunity; helping someone become aware of a behaviour or blindspot for their own positive development; giving feedback upwards that really needs to be brought to light; or exploring ways to improve productivity through better relationships or processes.


One of the easiest ways to grapple with, have clarity on, and be a person of integrity is to look at what traits make up integrity.

  1. Honesty
  2. Humility
  3. Goodness
  4. Accountability
  5. Trustworthy
  6. Mistakes are Forgiven
  7. Gives Credit
  8. Own mistakes and apologises
  9. Argues calmly and fairly
  10. Has high emotional intelligence



With integrity you are seen as credible which means you’re believable and trusted. You can handle conflict constructively and calmly, with honesty and fairness.


Even with mistakes, you own them and learn. You forgive mistakes – your own and others! You also take accountability seriously as it contributes to a feedback loop that, again, helps you learn and lead. 

High emotional intelligence means having a high level of self- and social- awareness. This knowledge means being able to read a situation, handle and lead yourself and others through challenging, uncertain times.


Your high integrity means people see you as an expert leader with goodness and humility. Having a reputation as a leader who gives credit, lifts others, and listens deeply will ensure a strong and positive reputation that’s seen by key decision makers in your organisation and across your industry.

Even with all these insights I’ve learned since my early first job days, I will still stop and reflect on the integrity of that experience. And I believe that has served me well. I also understand there are a range of views, some will vary widely from mine while others will be similar, and that’s okay. It’s how I then handle it that matters. When I stop and reflect on the integrity of a situation or behaviour I learn more about:

  • the other person
  • the situation and context
  • myself

So, what are your thoughts on this: is forging a signature for milk or a million dollars okay or does it depend on…?