Character in Leadership! Why It Matters?

Nov 1, 2022 | Workforce

By Mike French

When I was growing up in the 1950’s (yeah, that was a long time ago), I loved to watch cowboy movies featuring heroes like Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger, and of course, anything with the great John Wayne. There were the good guys and the bad guys, and you clearly knew who they were; the good guys usually wore white hats, and the bad guys wore black. The movie plots were thin and predictable, but that didn’t matter because the good guys always saved the day – they got the bad guys, they got the beautiful girls, and they rode off into a brilliant sunset at the end of the movie. You walked out of the theater feeling good because all had been made right. Those were the days!

Not Anymore!

Over the years there has been a paradigm shift in movie characters and plots. Today, we have both superheroes and super villains, and you no longer know who’s going to win. In fact, characters who would have been considered evil during my childhood are now portrayed as wonderful, powerful, and exciting, and kids root for them to win. Good and evil is no longer clearly defined.

Young people no longer understand the difference and why it should be important to them. They spend hours playing electronic games virtually, and they mentally become the characters they are playing, whether good or evil. This does affect their character development and how they understand what’s right and wrong, and society changes as millions of them become adults and enter communities and the work force.

Defining Character 

“Your character is the internal script that will determine your response to failure, success, mistreatment, and pain. It reaches into every single facet of your life. It is more far-reaching than your talent, your education, your background, or your network of friends.” – A.W. Tozer

According to the dictionary, “Character is the evaluation of a person’s moral qualities; it implies attributes which include honesty, integrity, courage, loyalty, and fortitude.” Someone else stated it this way: “Character is a collection of personality traits within a person’s behavior that shows who they are and is reflected in their integrity, attitudes, moral fiber, disposition, and how they treat those around them.” 

Why Character Matters in Society

When character is changed negatively in young people, they grow up to be adults without good character traits, which becomes reflected with a dramatic escalation of crime. According to the National Association of Shoplifting and Theft Addiction Specialists, shoplifting is America’s number one property crime. More than 500,000 shoplifting incidents occur every day and $13 billion worth of goods are stolen a year. It is estimated that 10% of the U.S.’s population are shoplifters!

Why Character Matters in Business

Theft from employees, which includes both loss from fraud stealing, is $2.9 trillion annually! It is also estimated that 33% of corporate bankruptcies in the U.S. are linked to employee theft.

The Company Owner

Internally and externally, good character traits are critical to a company’s success, especially in its ownership and leadership. The owner’s character sets the tone for the entire company and is the moral gauge used for hiring employees, including the kinds of people for upper management, sales staff, and customer service personnel, who in turn determine how customers are treated. It starts at the top of a company, at the ownership level, and trickles down the chain to every part of it. The entire company reflects it in one way or another.

Any business operating through bad character traits will eventually fail!

Let me explain with a story I used to tell at recycler conferences.

It began with a direct mail campaign for a businessman who had seen my ad in a recycler publication. The headline that got his attention stated boldly, “We make your phones ring, guaranteed!” His business was slow, and he wanted his phone to ring. So I began by obtaining a mailing list for him of automotive repair shops within a fifty-mile radius of his location.

I designed a beautiful mailer for him that included all the right things. It had everything a great mailer should have to generate positive results. It was colorful and eye-catching. It had powerful headlines, beautiful photos, attractive coupons, and it had a strong call to action. We then mailed it out to the mailing list and waited for the expected results.

Crickets!

His phones did not ring! A few days later I got a call from the very angry owner accusing me of fraud. He said I must have sold him a bad mailing list, or maybe I didn’t even mail them out at all! I assured him the mailing list was obtained from a reputable list provider and was guaranteed to be accurate and up-to-date, and I had a postal receipt showing that it had, in fact, gone into the mail. But, just in case, I would phone some of the companies on the list to see if they had received the mailer. And they did.

What I Found Out

The first person I called yelled at me as soon as I said the name on the mailer. He then told me about the terrible business experience he had with them and said he would “never do business with that crook ever again!” Everyone else I called had similar negative stories tell. It became painfully obvious why this company didn’t get calls from their mailer, no matter how good it looked; it had been preceded by a bad company reputation. Therefore, the only mailer that would work for them is one that included a huge headline saying, “Under new ownership!”

The Company Employees

Employees at every level of a company must have good character. They must be honest, trustworthy, diligent, and helpful. Bad character traits such as laziness, carelessness, dishonesty, or argumentativeness, will result in higher business costs and losses. Good character drives business to you and bad character drives it away!

How to Hire People of Good Character

With so many negatively influenced people in today’s world, how can you find people of good character to hire who are honest, respectful, hardworking, loyal, and professional? Begin with help wanted ads that state boldly who should apply and what character traits you’re looking for. Have a well-crafted job application to help you make an informed decision regarding the applicant’s character and to spot red flags and eliminate problem people early in the discovery process. Include some hypothetical “what would you do if…” questions that deal with ethical situations.

Do background checks. Phone previous employers to verify job history. Check their social media sites for character clues. Ask for several character references and follow up with them. Then do personal interviews with potential hires. Once hired, monitor their phone calls to see how they treat your customers in real situations. Send follow-up questionnaires to customers to find how they were treated by the new employee. Finally, have a 90-day trial period before they become permanent – true character reveals itself over time.

Therefore… Having good character in today’s chaotic times is critical for a healthy society! When dealing with other people, someone with a strong sense of character is fairer and more honest than someone who doesn’t believe in good principles and values. A person’s character is their moral compass; it reflects how they treat others.

Mike French is retired from 39 years of business in the automotive recycling industry. He is an author, publisher, consultant and speaker. Mike is founder and Executive Director of  Christian Auto Recyclers & Vendors Association (CARVA) and will be at upcoming recycler trade shows and events. Mike is available to speak at your group, conference or event. He loves to share inspirational stories which demonstrate how the Word of God actively changes lives. He can be reached at mike@carva.group. Visit www.CARVA.group and visit www.PowerPackedPromises.com.

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