By Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner

Your professional integrity is one of the most important parts of your business. Integrity and professionalism is the glue that holds competent, strong companies together. As your business evolves, there's no doubt that you will encounter situations that make you question what you think you know about being a professional and leader.

Let's look at some of the ways you can increase your professional integrity regardless of whether you're working in a small business or a worldwide corporation. These methods are designed to help you both be true to yourself and keep your integrity and pride within your business.

Do the right thing.

It sounds so simple, right? We all want to do the right thing, but sadly, many people fall victim to a power complex once their businesses gain traction. They feel as if they are now successful and fear that they will lose their success. As a result, sometimes they will do things that are unethical, but good for business.

Don't fall into this trap.

It's possible to do the right thing for the people you hire, your clients and investors and for the business. It may not always be easy to do the right thing, but it's worth it. For example, think of a burger joint that makes it big selling real, USA beef. After a while, they become successful -- too successful. They can't keep up with the demand.

Someone without integrity would change suppliers and get meat that isn't as high-quality but is cheaper and more readily available. On the other hand, someone with professional integrity is going to keep looking until they find a supplier that can still deliver their customers the quality they expect, without sacrificing price or value.

Rise to the occasion and look for solutions that are a little outside the box. Most importantly, remember this -- don't do the right thing because you have to -- do the right thing because it's right.

Keep an open line of communication.

When I say keep an open line of communication, I mean with everyone within your business. Everyone should either have access to you, or someone in a higher position so they can have their concerns addressed immediately. Proper communication is not just ethical; it's part of making employees happy. If there is a lack of communication, it's easy for projects to get off track.

Keeping an open line of communication means that you have a strong verbal presence and your body language reflects this mentality. The bottom line is this -- when you're willing to put people first, you show that you are a professional leader with the integrity required to make sure the job is done in a correct and fair way.

Learn the compliment/critique dance.

Part of being a good leader with integrity is learning how to talk to your coworkers and employees. Generally speaking, one of the best things you can do is give compliments out in public. Let people know that they are doing a good job and this will reinforce positivity throughout the business. Employees receiving the compliments will feel good knowing that you are paying attention to their hard work, and other employees will feel inspired to do better.

Part of being a good leader with integrity is learning how to talk to your coworkers and employees, even with negative feedback. Harvard Business Review published findings that revealed how employees feel about being critiqued on their performance.

You should never call employees out in public; instead, make it a private conversation with a witness or documentation. The fact that you were respectful enough to address your concerns in private and like a real human instead of a "scary corporate overlord" lends further to your integrity and overall professionalism.

What next?

Every professional is a little different, though these methods and tips are designed to help build a common thread among those in higher positions at companies. The goal is to always put people first.

A healthy work environment is one where all employees -- regardless of official position -- feel like family. It's your job as a professional to balance your business with the ties you make with your employees.

At the end of the day, remain true to yourself and your vision, even if others object. If you maintain the same integrity you had when you started, you'll be able to say you never wavered and you always did the right thing.

Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site that helps small businesses start their website.

Published on: Mar 14, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.