People are hired for strengths in areas where they are talented, experienced, and gifted, so goes conventional wisdom.

But do you ever interview someone for character? Seriously, before you hire that VP, developer or project manager, do you thoroughly investigate that person for integrity and honesty, or is it a slam-dunk hire because she has all the qualifications?

The hard truth is not everyone that you hire with rock star skills will display the character traits that transcend all their gifts and make your business a success.

Here's what I'm getting at. In our fishbowl business-world where one tweet or status update can easily destroy brand reputation, more people are gravitating toward leadership cultures with character.

But character is not easy to come by with one flip of the switch -- "I'll be a good person now." It doesn't work that way. You have to scale the mountain.

As you make the climb, it's good to be aware of the different aspects of character that serve different functions, but are related to one another.

Here are 5 you need to start putting into practice today.

1. The ability to connect authentically (which leads to trust).

I often see people get into trouble when this aspect of character isn't rooted in the foundation of work relationships. They can't even look each other in the eye and say and mean things from a place of raw truth.

Being authentic is predicated on the simple--and practical idea-- that people who aren't afraid to admit the truth about what's really going are not going to engage in the kind of political drama that sucks away everyone's time and energy, and more important, gets in the way of accomplishing goals and results.

If you're a leader, it's being able to connect with what your people are really thinking, feeling and experiencing in a way that makes them feel their hearts are being heard.

This has been proven to be the magic potion for trust-building. Employees under such leadership styles are much quicker to respond with emotional commitment to their work, and the organization's objectives.

2. The ability to increase openness and accountability.

As companies shape their leadership culture and equip their tribe for battle, it is imperative that leaders from the front-lines to the C-Suite measure the core elements needed to attract, focus, and keep their most talented employees.

This will require a high-degree of openness and transparency on the leader's part to self-diagnose by asking simple questions like:

  • Do my employees know what is expected of them at work?
  • Do my employees have the resources and information they need to do their work right?
  • Do my employees have the opportunity to do what they do best every day?
  • Have my top performers received recognition or praise for doing good work?

3. The ability to see the big picture, keep the eye on the prize, and finish well.

Leaders with this aspect of character integration see the big picture, know their purpose, establish a mission, build a strong and unified team, plan with the end in mind and reach their BHAG's.

The opposite? Narcissism, power, control, ego, giving in to external pressures, or chasing an ideal image of themselves. This will take them in the wrong direction.

4. The ability to embrace, engage, and deal with the negative.

A leader with this aspect of character integration does not avoid the elephant in the room. She has the courage to cut through conflict and resolve problems by running toward the eye-of-the-storm, confronting in a proactive way with the end-goal of bringing people together, not diving them into silos.

This act of healthy confrontation is done in a way that preserves the relationship and the person. Nobody is "thrown under the bus" (what a horrible and violent business metaphor that needs to go extinct!). There's dignity and respect involved in the exchange and dialogue.

5. The ability to be oriented toward growth.

Leaders with this aspect of character integration need to be open to exposing themselves to new experiences and sources of growth.

Ask yourself if you are a "closed system." Do you only talk to people who believe and think as you do? Do you only take input from old sources?

For a leader to grow in this relationship economy being flooded with Millennials, there has to be a connection to other sources, some even younger or less experienced.

Who is pushing you to grow? Who is supporting you to grow? Who is pushing you past the level at which you already are? Where is the encouragement coming from?

Published on: Nov 9, 2016
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