Recently, I attended a fundraiser for Youth Frontiers, a local non-profit whose aim is to build character in young adults. Kids are learning the skills they need to succeed in school and Youth Frontiers focus is to get kids to be aware of their own character and how it impacts themselves and others they encounter throughout life. I was deeply moved by what they do, the changes they are making in local schools and the long term impact it has on the students in building their character. The event got me thinking about character vs. qualifications in business…
In my line of business I have the opportunity to work with people with varying backgrounds and education and companies in all types of industries. Some of the companies I’ve come across companies that base hiring solely on where someone went to school, how many degrees they have or how many letters are behind their name. I have seen good people get passed up on positions for all the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong, getting a good education is very important, however a person’s character and moral compass is paramount. When individuals feel their credentials make them better than everyone else it really comes through in how they treat others. The people who have stood out to me are those that value their character. This is shown by proving themselves and working hard, treating their coworkers with respect and doing the right thing…no matter their experience or education.
When you’re making a decision to expand your team, consider this bit of advice from Peter Schutz (former Porsche CEO & motivational speaker), “Hire character. Train skill.” If you’re in a managerial role, take time to build up the individuals on your team so they have the courage to stand up and feel they are in an environment where they can succeed. This will in turn build their confidence and their character.
P.S. Upon reflection and writing this blog post I remembered when I was young and my dad gave me a copy of the poem The Man in the Glass by Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr. If you have not read this, I highly recommend you to do so. The lesson is to be true to yourself by having good mental and moral qualities – the definition of character. At the end of the day you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror.