In life there are people of good character you feel comfortable being around and others whom you feel less comfortable with. The same is true for companies. A company’s character and culture is rooted in its internalized values. When employees perceive the company as being of good character, there tends to be a positive attitude and culture in the company. Harvard Business Review conducted interviews with 4,700 customers and the employees of 63 businesses to measure the relationship between how a company’s character is perceived and the company’s overall success. The results were interesting.
What they discovered was that companies are more likely to be growing if employees’ opinions of the company were better than the customers’ opinions. Similarly, sales were more likely to be falling if customers thought better of the company than its employees did. Their conclusion was that if companies invest in improving their employees’ views of their corporate character, those positive attitudes will rub off and boost customers’ opinions of the company and that will drive growth. In other words, if we take care of our employees, our employees will take care of our customer and when that happens, our customers will take care of the shareholders.
The question then is, if your company came to life as a human, what would be the attributes of its character? The list could be lengthy, but I’ve identified a few that when seen through the eyes of employees should provide a solid foundation of good internal character leading to positive customer outcomes.
- To be agreeable, even when not agreeing.
There is a difference between being agreeable and agreeing with someone. We can disagree with someone and still be sensitive to the needs of others. We should stand up for what’s right but avoid nitpicking and correcting the small things. Very few people are 100% wrong or right. Communication should not be a battle to win. When we do, we miss the opportunity to learn from another point of view and deepen our relationships with others.
- To be empathetic.
The ability to see a situation through someone else’s eyes is a valuable skill. It is one of the most important skills of a leader. Empathy is critical to leadership because it builds trust and without trust you’re not leading people, you’re managing them.
- To be amicable in our disagreements.
Disagreements have a way of bringing out the worst in us. But when we’re amicable we make the choice to respond with a friendly, peaceable disposition and goodwill even when others would expect us to be unfriendly. Notwithstanding our own justification of the situation, it is our desire to act with kindness toward others.
- To be humble.
Humility is rooted in an attitude that the leader is as human as those they lead. It says “I may not have the answer or know what to do in every situation, but by working together we’ll have the best opportunity to succeed.” A leader’s expression of humility makes them real to others around them.
- To be forgiving without lowering expectations.
High performance is enabled with a forgiving heart. I know how hopeless it can feel when we believe we’re being held to a standard of perfection. Good is never good enough. Holding others to that standard even with the best of intentions will eventually demoralize them. Forgiveness acknowledges the performance issue and then makes clear that it’s our goal to see the individual succeed with our full support and encouragement.
- To show gratitude.
When circumstances are heading in the wrong direction it can seem hard to see what’s going right, but something always is. This is a good time to be grateful. Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness despite our circumstances. It puts situations into perspective and when we can see the good in the bad, it becomes more difficult to complain and stay stuck in the negative.
- To be resilient.
The ability to bounce back from life’s downturns is a powerful tool for success. Even successful companies experience setbacks or problems, but they see them as temporary. Sometimes the best ideas emerge from our toughest situations. The sense of a community working together to solve a problem is a powerful thing. We are stronger together than we are alone, no matter what the obstacle. Resiliency is the quality that enables a team to bounce back from setbacks and adversity.
- To be optimistic.
Optimism is an attitude that expects circumstances will eventually work out for the good. An attitude of optimism can also positively affect mental and physical health. It is the fuel of resiliency. Optimism is a critical component to any team reaching its goals.
So remember, none of us are perfect. People disappoint us and we are certain to disappoint others. This list does not necessarily guarantee success or harmony, but on the journey to success, character building through the pursuit of positive human virtues like those above, can make it a more rewarding experience for your employees, your customers and ultimately you.
If you’d like to strengthen the character of your organization, call or reach me through the “contact us” tab on this page.