In the Being a Leader (BAL) course, great emphasis is made on integrity, and especially the fact that you are nothing other than your word. 

One of the definitions that people struggle with is that your word constitutes whatever is expected of you, even when you have not explicitly stated this as your word.

For example, if you are working in a team, and you are the only one qualified in first aid, helping out whenever an emergency situation arises constitutes your word. The only exemption is when you have explicitly stated that in the event of any situation that requires your expertise, you will not help.

Most people find it easier to work with the following definition of one’s word.  If someone has an expectation of me and has expressed that expectation in the form of a request, I can accept, decline or counteroffer that request.  The challenge most people have is being obligated by an expectation that has not been expressed explicitly. 

When these expectations that have not been explicitly included in the definition of one’s word, it occurs for many as wrongful that one should be burdened by the unexpressed expectations (unexpressed requests) that others have.

Here are some considerations to this discussion:

  1. Suppose someone has an expectation (unexpressed request) of another. Even if one is unaware of the expectation, if that expectation is not met, like it or not, the outcome is much the same as having given one’s word and not kept that word.  In the BAL course, integrity is defined around workability and performance.  When unexpressed expectations are not met, WORKABILITY DECLINES, and consequently the OPPORTUNITY FOR PERFORMANCE DECLINES;
  2. For better or for worse, what is expected of one is expected of one. IN LIFE THERE IS NO ESCAPING EXPECTATIONS (UNEXPRESSED REQUESTS). And if there is an expectation (even if you are unaware of that expectation), and you do not either meet that expectation or uncover it and explicitly declare that you will not meet it, THERE WILL BE A BREAKDOWN AND WORKABILITY WILL DECLINE. As with an object or system, WHEN A RELATIONSHIP IS LESS THAN WHOLE AND COMPLETE, WORKABILITY DECLINES, and consequently the OPPORTUNITY FOR PERFORMANCE DECLINES;
  3. The notion of it being wrong or right (or bad or good, or unfair or fair) that you are affected by the unannounced expectations (unexpressed requests) of others is a normative value judgment.  In our new model of integrity, integrity is devoid of such normative value judgments. Whether you like it or not is irrelevant from the standpoint of integrity, workability, and performance;