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As you can see from results of these studies, character of leader affects not only behavior of organization, but its results as well. I do not know all details of Enron or MCI WorldCom scandals, but I do know that fallout hurt companies and their employees. These examples are extreme cases of character failures, but many smaller ones happen in business and organizational life every day.
As usual, I have a story to relate to illustrate my point. One time I hired a man to work in a department I managed. During hiring process, I realized that a woman in department, working in same capacity, was significantly underpaid compared to both industry standards and starting salary of man we were hiring. I immediately went to my supervisor and attempted to negotiate a resolution plan. In response to my request to adjust her salary he asked, “Does she know that he will be making more than her?” This perspective floored me. It seems that her knowledge of situation, rather than a determination of whether it was right or wrong, was deciding factor on whether it should be addressed or not. At that moment, I remembered a statement I had heard long before: “Character is what you do when no one is watching.”
Unfortunately, I was unable to persuade my supervisor to take action in this case. This response severely damaged my trust and respect for both person and organization. I eventually left organization for other reasons, but in retrospect, I probably should have left sooner. When it comes to character, leaders simply cannot compromise.
You can staff your organization to compensate for skill and knowledge deficiencies. You must stand alone on character. Do not let short-term thinking entice you into small, subtle concessions on matters of character. Be a leader of high morals and impeccable integrity in everything you do.
So, I encourage you to remember this simple tip . . . It is far better to have character than to be one.
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Copyright 2005, Guy Harris
Guy Harris helps entrepreneurs, business managers, and other organizational leaders improve team performance by applying the principles of human behavior.
Guy co-authored "The Behavior Bucks System(tm)" (http://www.behaviorbucks.com) to help parents apply behavioral principles in the home. Register for Guy's monthly “Positive Principles” newsletter at http://www.principledriven.com/newsletter.htm