Why Character Matters and 5 Ways to Reveal It

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If you asked 100 companies if they value character in their leaders, you will get 100 emphatic responses of ‘YES!’

But take a closer look – are these same companies screening for character during the hiring process? Do they have a culture that supports making tough, ethical decisions? Are they recognizing employees of high character and publically rewarding them?

Character, defined simply, is the way someone thinks, feels and behaves.  Character is fundamental to how we engage with the world, who we engage with, how we act and make decisions.

But having character is not just about doing the right thing. Running a business with high character is also good business. The cost of putting unethical people in leadership roles can be substantial. It can erode morale and company culture, expose your organization to significant financial and legal risks, lead to major employee retention problems, destroy your brand and kill profits.

So how do you make sure you are promoting for high competence as well as high character? A great place to start is by asking behavior-based questions. Here are five questions to ask when choosing your next team leader:

  • Tell me about a time when someone changed your mind about something you felt strongly about.
    • A leader without humility isn’t open-minded, doesn’t listen to others, becomes isolated and is unable to become a stronger leader. 
  • Give me an example of a time you had to show courage at work.
    • A leader without courage doesn’t challenge poor decisions or difficult issues.
  • How do you hold team members accountable? How about yourself? Please provide examples.
    • Leaders without accountability create a disengaged culture of fear where others are blamed for their poor decisions.
  • Tell me about a time where you needed to exercise restraint, or self-control.
    • Leaders without temperance lose credibility as they rush to judgement, don’t gather relevant data and take uncalculated risks. 
  • Collaboration is key to achieving success. As a team leader, explain how you foster collaboration.
    • Without collaboration, leaders don’t achieve worthwhile goals because they don’t take advantage of their team’s diverse knowledge, experience, judgement and skills.

Remember that character can be learned and needs to be practiced in order to be cultivated. The key is to create a culture where integrity, honesty, courage, fairness, humility and loyalty are expected, recognized and rewarded.

If your leadership training program or new hire screening process needs a character overhaul, please give Powers Resource Center a call at powersresourcecenter.com.

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