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5 Simple Rules to Create a Character-Driven Company

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By Dave Anderson

RISMEDIA, January 7, 2010—Now that the clean slate of 2010 is here, most people have bid their old bad habits farewell and are trying to make good on their new year’s resolution. And if you own a business, you may have your own version of this custom. Right now you’re probably busy taking inventory, organizing your books, and evaluating what you did right (and not so right) in hopes of preparing yourself for a profitable new year. Dave Anderson has a suggestion: Instead of focusing solely on financial matters, why not take a good hard look at the character of your company?

“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.. “Character does matter in business. And right now, at the beginning of a new year, is a great time to sit down and define your goals for the character of your company with your employees. “

Anderson offers 5 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. 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. 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 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. 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. 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.

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, 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. Think about what you can do to go the extra mile each day. It may mean volunteering to take on an extra project, coming in on a Saturday once in a while, or taking a night class to improve your skill set. Whatever that extra mile may be, the benefits will be well worth your sacrifice.

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.

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. This is an appropriate time of year to 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 from the past year, and encourage them to make amends.

About the Author
Dave Anderson is president of Dave Anderson’s Learn to Lead. 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. He and his wife, Rhonda, are cofounders of The Matthew 25.35 Foundation, which helps feed, educate, and house destitute people throughout the world.

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