In a 6-year character study completed by KRW International on 100 CEOs from fortune 500 and 1,000 companies, researchers proved that character matters in business. In the study, businesses who had leaders that consistently exhibited high-character values experienced three times more ROA (return on asset) and employee engagement than those companies managed by leaders who lacked character. The study also surfaced a remarkable data point—character can be taught. The book Fuel Your Business, reveals the following eight high-character value trends common among exceptional leaders.
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness is being present—always. It’s the ability to look into the future and reflect on the past without getting trapped in either place. It’s consciousness of your actions and emotions. Leaders who are mindful are self-aware, have the ability to correct their actions, and ensure their behaviors are beneficial to themselves and others.
- Freedom: Freedom drives revenue by giving everyone in the business the permission and protection to address challenges, manage initiatives, and develop strategies in their own unique way. When leaders exhibit the value of freedom they trust everyone involved, and their need for providing constant oversight is removed.
- Truth: Truth drives mobility in both people and the business. When leaders are transparent in all accounts and without exception, people are inspired and motivated to help move the business forward, and they have a desire to move into more significant roles in support of the business. Living the value of truth negates denial; excuses dissipate, and ownership for mistakes becomes obvious. “I’m honored to work for such business or such leader” is the benchmark statement when a leader lives the value of truth.
- Integrity: Integrity drives trust by acting consistently with principles, values, and beliefs, telling the truth, standing up for what is right, and keeping promises. Integrity takes courage and fearless conviction—especially if the business as a whole does not operate with integrity. When a leader lives integrity he ensures the business operates with truth and what is right for humanity by first putting the people who work for the business at the center of his decisions, without wavering.
- Compassion: Compassion heightens engagement and talent retention. Compassion is about genuinely empathizing with others, and showing sympathy with authenticity. Compassion breeds trust, respect, and loyalty throughout the business, and shows everyone that the business has heart. When leaders have compassion, it’s evident that they care about how the business impacts people and communities.
- Creative Expression: Creative expression drives margins and elevates cost efficiencies. When people feel they have truly been given the freedom to express themselves openly, ideas and innovation flow easily through the business. Change becomes more fluid and effective because people take ownership for their ideas and the possibilities their ideas have created for others.
- Forgiveness: Forgiveness fuels innovation and is the genuine act of letting go of one’s own mistakes as well as those of others. Forgiveness is the most challenging of all the values due to our human tendency to hold on to grudges, hang on to past resentment, dwell on hurt, and harbor shame associated with perceived failure. The key to living the value of forgiveness is to forgive yourself first—the rest becomes that much easier.
- Responsibility: A direct partner of truth, responsibility is about inspiring and driving action by taking ownership for personal choices, admitting mistakes and failures, embracing the responsibility for serving others, and leaving the world a better place. When leaders live the value of responsibility, deadlines are met, promises are kept, and the overall performance of the business improves.
Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Email Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.