The Character-Driven Company: Five Simple Rules to Follow in Order to Become One in 2010

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Seeking a New Year’s business resolution? Consider zeroing in on character. Author Dave Anderson shares his thoughts on the business implications of issues like white lies, false impressions, and forgiveness—and explains how to make character-driven choices in 2010.

Character does matter in business. And right now, with the holiday season upon us, it’s a great time to sit down and define your goals for the character of your company with your employees.

As the year draws to a close and the holidays loom large, most people spend time reflecting on the past twelve months and anticipating a fresh start in January. And business owners are probably busy taking inventory, organizing their books, and evaluating what they did right (and not so right) in hopes of preparing for a profitable New Year. Dave Anderson has a suggestion for these people: Instead of focusing on financial matters, business owners should take a good hard look at their company's character.

“When you really think about it, the Ponzi schemes and shady CEO scandals that made headlines throughout 2009 boil down to a lack of solid character,” says Anderson, author of How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK: A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Business (Wiley, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-4704964-2-8, $24.95). “Character does matter in business. And right now, with the holiday season upon us, it’s a great time to sit down and define your goals for the character of your company with your employees.”

“It’s amazing how few leaders take the time to do this,” says Anderson. “But just resolving to sit down and articulate your beliefs is a powerful exercise that yields powerful results.”

There are five simple rules that every employee, from the top of the corporate ladder on down should follow to ensure that they have a rock-solid character next year:

Don’t Tell White Lies. Everyone is guilty of telling a white lie or two. And while we may consider those little untruths to be harmless, they are a reflection of character. Think of all the business scandal stories from this past year and how many of them were the result of dishonesty—and how that dishonesty shattered the lives of so many people.

Keep Your Commitments. Given the past year’s turbulent economy, it’s likely that many have found themselves in a situation where their mouth wrote checks in the good times that their bank account can no longer cash. Cutting expenses is necessary and understandable, but breaking promises is not—even if it turns out to be more costly, inconvenient, or time-consuming than first estimated.

Go the Second Mile. One of the most common character flaws is that people do just enough to get by; they come to work and do just enough to get paid and just enough not to get fired. Think about it this way: If the majority of people are doing only the minimum, then those who give just a little bit more of themselves will stand out and be highly valued—a great asset for any company or individual to have.

Don’t Give False Impressions. When it comes to business, false impressions are everywhere: from misleading advertising campaigns to padded resumes. But it's important to be honest with those coworkers, or one may lose their credibility and build up resentment in a once-valuable business relationship. One must think about the ways that they or their company may be misleading others, and find ways to stop it.

Reconcile and Forgive Immediately. Holding grudges is an unfortunate consequence of competitive business. Resentment builds up when employees leave organizations, mistakes are made, or when coworkers feel slighted. This is an appropriate time of year for one to take an inventory of grudges they may be nursing, people they're resenting, and those with whom they must reconcile. If they're carrying it around, rest assured it’s affecting their performance.

“It’s one thing to sit down with your employees and share your values, but the best way to get the message across is to make sure you are setting the example yourself,” Anderson concludes. “If you haven’t been doing so, make a point to change that in 2010. Others in your organization will be sure to follow. And you’ll see firsthand that a business that is based on strong core values and a shared vision is one that’s headed for long-term success and prosperity.”

About the Author:

Dave Anderson is president of Dave Anderson’s Learn to Lead and has given over 1,000 leadership presentations in thirteen countries. He is the author of If You Don’t Make Waves, You’ll Drown; Up Your Business!; How to Deal with Difficult Customers; and the TKO business series, all from Wiley. He and his wife, Rhonda, are cofounders of The Matthew 25.35 Foundation, which helps feed, educate, and house destitute people throughout the world.

For more information, please visit http://www.learntolead.com.

About the Book:

How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK: A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Business (Wiley, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-4704964-2-8, $24.95) is available at bookstores nationwide, major online booksellers, or directly from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797.

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Charity Hand

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