Military Success Trait – Character

Successful business leadership is mutually inclusive with another military success trait – character. While some businesses can show short term gains with executive personnel possessing less-than-stellar moral fiber, long-term success can only be fostered from strong character.

For this reason, middle-manager positions, the front-line of many businesses, offer an opportunity to insert developing leaders who possess strong character into companies, and the timing is optimal: Businesses can leverage their strong character while the young leaders learn the industry/process/technology. This is the central theme of a Junior Military Officer (JMO) Leadership Development Program (LDP) strategy which, with the strengthening economy, is experiencing a strong upward trend in corporate America.

Seeing the consistent successes of JMO LDPs across industry lines has served as proof of my initial thesis, that is, in business, “character counts”. I recently heard a strong supporting case on HBR IdeaCast – 462: “Ethical CEOs Finish First” where Fred Kiel, author of “Return on Character”, explains his research regarding why “being good” benefits the bottom line. It’s a great interview and there is also a great post on Harvard Business Reviews Blog, Measuring the Return on Character. I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of his book and I cannot wait to dig into it.

I like that the author has applied metrics to character. I’m constantly working on ways to better explain character-leadership in measurable terms. Even the great business leader/icon Jack Welch refers to soft skills with the terms “fuzzy” and “gray”. Quantifying leadership and character is a sound business strategy that top-performing organizations know in their hearts and possibly now, know in their heads too.

Is your business maximizing ROC (Return On Character) from its leaders? Is character part of your hiring process? How are you currently measuring character?

Bobby Whitehouse

Image courtesy of Naval Surface Warriors