"Only you can relinquish it or allow it to be compromised".
John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, even reportedly revealed that Mr Tillerson had been informed when he was in the toilet.
"I'd like to ask each of you undertake to ensure one act of kindness each day towards another person".
Tillerson did not mention President Donald Trump, who fired him unceremoniously last Tuesday just hours after the top diplomat returned to Washington from a five-nation tour of Africa.
Never lose sight of your most valuable asset, the most valuable asset you possess: your personal integrity.
He said: "Finally, I hope you will continue to treat each other with respect". "Regardless of the job title, the station in life, or your role, everyone is important to the State Department", - the State Secretary said.
"But you don't have to choose to participate in that", he continued as the clapping crescendoed in the formal, flag-draped entrance of the State Department's headquarters.
It was Tillerson's closing shot that got reporters' ears up.
The country faces many challenges, Tillerson said, ranging from perplexing foreign affairs to serious national security threats.
"Each of us gets to choose the person we will be, the way we want to be treated and the way we will treat others".
Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson waves to employees upon his departure from the State Department in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2018.
Tillerson will likely be remembered as among the least successful secretaries of state in recent history, having alienated much of the White House staff and most of his own department with an imperious style, skeletal leadership team and missteps on the worldwide stage.
Tillerson and Trump differed on several key policies, notably the Iran nuclear deal, moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and the Paris climate accords.
But after he concluded his remarks on Thursday, Tillerson left the State Department to several minutes of applause, as he shook the hands of employees on his way out the door.
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