Submitted by Dottie DeHart, DeHart & Company Public Relations
Hoboken, NJ (September 2011)—It’s certainly a tense time in business. The uncertain economy has many business leaders constantly poring over the financials, crunching the budget, and nixing every possible unnecessary expense. Unfortunately, says Dave Anderson, financial problems aren’t the only ones your company might be facing. He asks if you’ve recently taken a good hard look at the character of your company.
“When you really think about it, many of the transgressions we see in business today, from CEO scandals to terrible customer service, boil down to a lack of solid character,” says Anderson, author of How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK—Revised and Expanded: A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Business (Wiley, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-118-02237-5, $18.95, www.learntolead.com).
Anderson says 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:
Don’t Tell White Lies. We’re all guilty of telling a white lie or two. In fact, most of us do it on a daily basis and hardly even notice anymore! And while we may consider those little untruths to be harmless, consider that instructing your receptionist to tell a caller that you’re out of the office when you really aren’t is a reflection on your own character. White lies are still lies, after all. Think of how many business scandal stories there were this past year and how many of them were the result of dishonesty—and how that dishonesty shattered the lives of so many people.
“White lies are like the gateway drug to bigger offenses,” says Anderson. “And even though telling the truth is often the hard and unpopular thing to do, honesty is rule number one to developing sound character."
Keep Your Commitments. Have you ever made a business promise that you didn’t keep? Perhaps you didn’t follow through with a promised promotion, or skipped out early on a day when you promised to work late. And given the past year’s turbulent economy, it’s even more likely that you found yourself in a situation where your mouth wrote checks in the good times that your bank account can no longer cash. Cutting expenses is necessary and understandable, but Anderson warns that breaking promises is not—even if it turns out to be more costly, inconvenient, or time-consuming than you estimated.
“Don’t take your promises casually,” asserts Anderson, “and explain to your employees that they shouldn’t either. "Before you commit to anything, make certain that you can live with the worst-case scenario resulting from what you’re agreeing to, and always, always follow through. Do what you said you’d do, regardless of the cost.”
Go the Second Mile. One of the most common character flaws in leaders and their employees is that they do just enough to get by; they come to work and do just enough to get paid and just enough not to get fired. That’s not good enough, says Anderson. He suggests thinking 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. “Some of the most successful business men and women will readily admit that they are no smarter than their less successful counterparts,” explains Anderson. “They simply outwork them, outthink them, and, as a result, outperform them. By doing what others were unwilling to do, going where they were unwilling to go, saying what they were unwilling to say, learning what they were unwilling to learn, and risking what they were unwilling to risk, they earned a success and a lifestyle that the ‘just enough’ crowd was unable to attain.”
Don’t Give False Impressions. When it comes to business, false impressions are everywhere. From misleading advertising campaigns to padded resumes, you won’t be hard pressed to find examples of people trying to make others believe things are better than they really are. But Anderson says that you have to be upfront and honest with those you work with, or you may lose your credibility and build up bitterness and resentment in a once-valuable business relationship. Think about the ways that you or your company may be misleading others, and find ways to stop it.
“There are a few simple things you can do to get your employees and organization on the road to transparency,” explains Anderson. “For starters, stop any misleading advertising you may be engaged in—and if you’re not sure if it’s misleading, then it probably is! Make sure that you aren’t spinning feedback to make someone feel as though they’re doing better or worse than they really are. And certainly don’t mislead any potential job candidates or employees about realities concerning compensation, advancement, or future plans.
Reconcile and Forgive Immediately. Holding grudges is a common and unfortunate consequence of competitive business. Resentment builds up when employees leave organizations, mistakes are made, or when coworkers feel slighted. Take an inventory of grudges you may be nursing, people you’re resenting, and those with whom you must reconcile. It doesn’t matter how far back the offense was. If you’re carrying it around, it’s affecting your performance, whether you realize it or not. Suggest to your employees that they think about any hard feelings they may be harboring and encourage them to make amends.
“When you are busy harboring resentment and holding onto grudges, you are taking time and precious energy away from the things you could be doing to increase your productivity and your business,” asserts Anderson. “Bring closure to past offenses. Identify amends you must make, with whom, and do it quickly. By holding onto these hard feelings, you aren’t hurting the other person; you’re hurting yourself! And having a clear conscience and a sound heart is a key component to having a solid character.”
For more information, please visit www.learntolead.com