Ben Lamm, a vice president at Capital One, spoke last week at the West Point Ethics and Leadership Conference in Richmond, Va. He emphasized the importance of honesty in the workplace. He called honesty a “non-negotiable,” and went on to give some examples that illustrated how important it is to him in his day-to-day dealings with employees. One example resulted in an employee losing his job. This made me think about the responsibility parents and teachers have to teach honesty and integrity to our children.
Teaching children to be honest should be simple, yet it is not as easy as it seems. Last Christmas, I gave my grandson a gift that he did not like. I was a little surprised when he told me he did not want it. My daughter and I were talking about it afterward, and we realized how difficult it is to teach a child how to be polite yet truthful.
In school, students often say they did their homework but left it at home. I cannot tell whether they are being honest with me or not. If they make a habit of this, I require them to do it over in their study hall. It is hard for me to trust them in other situations that are even more important, such as when taking a test. I explain this loss of trust to these students in the hope that they will begin to see the importance of always telling the truth. I would much rather that they tell me they did not do the work no matter what the reason is.
This emphasis on honesty has to start and be reinforced at home. Teachers and parents need to work together on this most important character trait. There are many in the college and workplace who agree with Lamm’s words.
For more on this important topic, read The Parent-Teacher Partnership: A Critical Connection.