I discovered an interesting word today: Rectitude. Quite curious about its meaning, I looked it up right away in the dictionary, and this is what it said: \tThe quality of thinking or behaving in a correct or honest way. \tMoral uprightness; righteousness. \tThe quality or condition of being correct in judgment. \tThe quality of being straight. In the work we do, we often discuss the core values of our client organizations with them. Interestingly, one of the most important and most common values of organizations is Integrity \u2013 voila we are back at Rectitude! Having said that, a quick run through of the newspapers \u2013 and the spate of corporate scams, wrong doings & missteps - brings us to the dismaying conclusion that while it is much strutted in placards around corporate board rooms, in reality - it is often a scarce commodity. How important is it to live this value? Subroto Bagchi in his book \u2018The Professional\u2019, talks about how important it is to live with complete rectitude & honesty to become a true professional. Here is a quick synopsis of this impressive book \u2013 which in my opinion should be made compulsory reading for all professionals. Doing Right, Unsupervised \u2013 Rectitude is to do the right thing, even when nobody is watching. Even organizations that have been branded as the, \u201cBest places to Work\u201d do have a governance department to look for rectitude issues. This is simply because, they know that even if they hire the best resources, rectitude may still be a challenge as it is quite easy to slip on this value. But the employee who truly stands by the value of honesty and integrity makes all the difference. \u201cThe two qualities, which differentiate a professional from a professionally qualified person, are: the ability to work unsupervised and the ability to certify the completion of one\u2019s work\u201d. Watch out - for Power is Dangerous \u2013 There are innumerous examples in our society where people in power believe that they can go wrong and never be caught. Enron and Satyam are screaming stories of such people in power who went wrong. But the fact is justice does not see the designation or position. Even a single slip in Rectitude is dangerous; a doctor cannot misuse his position to mislead the patient for treatment; a project manager working on a project under a NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) for a client is not supposed to share the project info to anybody outside, even with his wife; \u201ca CEO cannot appoint his wife as a contractor of his own office and do business with her; a boss cannot take situational advantage of an emotionally distressed employee. Every profession has some code of conduct and understanding it is the boundary between a skilled individual, from a Professional\u201d. Without rectitude a professionally qualified person is a danger to the society. Rectitude is Personal \u2013 It is not only important to watch for complete transparency in business transactions, rectitude should not be compromised in small things like: \u201cusing office phone for personal calls\u201d; bringing office stationary home for personal use; printing personal content on office printer; submitting bloated reimbursement claims; etc. Even these small things, which normally go unnoticed and are treated \u2018OK\u2019, are \u2018NOT OK\u2019 and bring us down on the Rectitude scale. Now the question is how to identify these slips. Let\u2019s see what rectitude means in the professional context. Simply said it means: \t\u201cWe follow the rules\u201d \t\u201cWhere rules don't exist, we use fair judgment.\u201d \t\u201cWhen in doubt, we don't go ahead and do what suits us; \u201c \t\u201cWe seek counsel.\u201d \t\u201cFinally faced with a dilemma, we ask ourselves: can my act stand in public scrutiny without causing embarrassment to me and my family?\u201d \u201cIf these four rules are applied, answers to the most daunting questions will present themselves and our subsequent professional conduct will always meet the highest standards of rectitude.\u201d Rectitude Starts Early \u2013 Although rectitude is an important value globally, \u201cmost of us in India have a very poor understanding of what constitutes rectitude. When we are children and things around us fail, we look up to our parents for value clarification. At the same time if a child has been witness to a parent giving or taking bribe or validating malpractice, the child will associate heroics with such an act. Now when the same child listens to the sermons in school about the importance of being truthful or not taking what does not belong to one, he will not actually \u2018hear\u2019 the message. One day the same child, now grown up and qualified, joins the workplace, already a cynic about the benefits of rectitude and will easily discount an organizational value.\u201d Many Shades of Grey \u2013 In most of the organizations, where Integrity is a Core- Value, most of them fail to consciously articulate a shared understanding of ethical behavior. What it actually means in that particular work environment and how everyone at work should practice it ? \u201cAnd in only a very few companies is ethical behavior truly non-negotiable. Organizations falter when they start looking at professional misconduct not in black and white but in shades of grey. Once you let yourself enter the grey zone, you get lost. Once confused in shades of grey, value clarification takes a back seat, for a majority of people find taking a black & white stand on a breach of rectitude an uncomfortable proposition. Some managers skirt determination of facts and let emotions cloud them. An other fear that people have is about organizational embarrassment and business loss.\u201d The book asks a very thought provoking question to its readers, which I want to leave you with. Lets consider the following situation: \u201cYou have just discovered that your star salesperson has faked a travel voucher. He is negotiating a huge order. He is about to close a very valuable deal on which the company will make a lot of money. And he is the only person who has mapped the client organization. What would you do?\u201d \t\u201cKeep quiet? \tWarn him and let him go? \tWarn him only after the order comes in? \tSack him on the spot?\u201d Think!! And do share your feedback with us.