Three Questions Leaders Must Ask About Their Company
Too often we see character, certainly in management circles, in reference to lack of it. That is, some CEO or CFO or senior executive has been caught with his hand in the kitty or in the knickers of some subordinate. Character, as our parents tell us, is what you do when you think no one is looking. Therefore, cheaters cheat; liars lie; but the converse is also true; faithful remain so and truthful tell the truth.
Within the corporate structure, character is taken for granted; it is assumed to be the cornerstone upon which the enterprise rests. Read the mission statements or values pledges of any company and you will come across phrases such as “to improve the lives of our customers” or “to improve the society in which we live.” Great stuff, but is anyone really paying attention? I think not and that’s why we need to remind ourselves that character does matter.
For me, character, like leadership, requires action; you must act on your convictions otherwise your character lies dormant. To make sure character plays an active role in your organization, ask yourself the following three questions:
1. Do people know what the organization stands for? Take the lofty vision or mission statements. Are they nice sounding words that describe what the organization does? Or are they nice-sounding words that look good on posters but not in real life? If there is a disconnect between vision and values then it is hard for people to believe that the company stands for anything. When that happens, people go through the motions on matters of character. They do not automatically cheat or lie, but do not go out of their way to serve their customers or even each other.
2. Do people believe that ethics in the organization matter? People know that legal transgressions will get them in trouble. But what about the guy who climbs over others to get the big promotion? Do bosses who demean others, and throw their people under the proverbial bus, get rewarded? When these things happen, employees quickly realize that ethics are platitudes.
3. What am I doing to set the right example? This covers standing up for the team, focusing on the issues, and getting things done. It also includes the people-development side of management, coaching and mentoring, and pushing for career and professional opportunities for your people. Respected managers are known for doing these things.
Many executives exude their values on a daily basis. Some work in enlightened companies that insist in values, but many others do not. Yet somehow in their work with customers or in managing their own teams these leaders make a positive difference. They teach good examples because they live them.
Where do you think character fits in the workplace?
Source: Harvard Business Review