Character-Centered Leadership in Business

//Character-Centered Leadership in Business

Character-Centered Leadership in Business

Character-centered leadership in business is absolutely essential for those who want business success. It is a priority of vital importance!

Let me be clear before we go on. I am not referring to the business coaching model known as Values-centered Leadership. Nor am I in any way endorsing that program.

Values-centered Leadership and the character-centered leadership we will discuss here are two different subjects.

Character in Business

Character in business guides your organization. Basic character, wherever it is found in business, seasons that business. It gives an ethical savor that is apparent to employees, customers, clients, vendors, and anyone else who interacts with it.

Character in business sets behavioral standards, determining how everyone is going to act. Character in business impinges on every department and every person, from employer to the least of the employees.

What Is Character-Centered Leadership in Business?

Character-centered leadership in business is proactive, moral guidance of the workplace.

It focuses on acting in advance to deal with moral problems that might be expected to affect workers in the workplace. Character-centered leadership anticipates such difficulties and heads them off by consistently modeling strong character. It works consciously to direct the business with the reins of moral absolutes.

Leaders who are character-centered bring all 66 character traits into the workplace and apply them. They act on the principle that high moral values are critical for creating and upholding a strong ethical workplace. They recognize that an unethical workplace is doomed to failure.

Character-centered leadership, vital to large corporations, is equally essential for small “Mom-and-Pop” businesses. Such leadership can revolutionize houses of government and corporate giants, but it can revolutionize your small business also.

The Impact of Character-Centered Leadership

When character-centered leaders inject moral absolutes of right and wrong into the workplace, they impact the way people think about things. They influence the attitudes of people in the business. Those attitudes, in turn, influence behavior – what the people do.

Let’s look at some of the ways character-centered leadership will impact your organization. What can you expect when you begin to build and model strong character?

  • Character Becomes Contagious. As people accept the leader’s moral actions, it becomes the “in thing” for everyone to make positive behavioral changes. Each one that changes infects another with the desire to change. Growing behavioral change gradually makes it difficult for anyone to resist.
  • Employees Follow the Leader. The moral actions of any leader have a direct effect on that leader’s people. When a restaurant manager does his job to the utmost of his ability, his actions encourage the wait staff to serve customers to the best of their ability. Almost unconsciously, people tend to follow leadership.
  • Trust and Confidence Grow. Employees and customers begin to have confidence in your business. They begin to consider it trustworthy – a business that won’t let them down. J.C. Penney said this about his empire of stores:

When this business was founded, it sought to win public confidence through service, for it was my conviction then, as it is now, that nothing else than right service to the public results in mutual understanding and satisfaction between customer and merchant. It was for this reason that our business was founded upon the eternal principle of the Golden Rule.

  • Your Business Gains a Competitive Edge. The public wants businesses and leaders to exercise character. People often choose or reject businesses based on values and actions. When buying a used car, they want to know they are dealing with principled salespeople, not the stereotypical shyster. Your business gains a competitive edge over others when your leadership builds and models character.


In a successive article, we will look at how you can develop character-centered leadership. For now, however, let me leave you with this:

A character-centered leader who approaches his or her business with determination to serve employees and the public as well as possible never needs to fear the competition.



  1. Elizabeth Hamilton April 26, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    When you choose between honesty and dishonesty, what influences your choice?

    Why are people honest or dishonest?

    You ask your secretary if she finished typing up the minutes of yesterday’s budget committee meeting. She did not, and her answer will reflect a choice between honesty and dishonesty.

    You ask your viola student if he practiced his lesson according to the schedule you set for him. He did not, but he has a choice. He can exercise honesty or dishonesty in answering you.

    Your school principal has zero tolerance for teacher tardiness, but shopping on your lunch break took longer than expected. As you pass his office, he questions your tardiness, giving you a choice between honesty and dishonesty.

    We face that choice many times in any given day. What makes us choose one over the other?

    Honesty should be the easier of the two, since it involves a clear statement of reality. You don’t need to think hard or get creative. You just tell it like it is. Once you’ve told it, you don’t work to remember it. If you’re asked again later, you’ll say the same thing. It’s reality. You’ll remember.

    Dishonesty requires work – sometimes hard work! You have to come up with a pretend reality that sounds plausible, even though it isn’t reality. You have to be prepared to elaborate if your questioner asks for detail. You have to work in an excuse for your failure to meet expectations. You have to be good at the childish game of “Let’s Pretend” if you’re going to be dishonest

    Why would you choose to lie?

    The answer, secondary to religious tenets, is that those who choose to lie do so because they lack character. They do not treasure high moral values as they ought. Before you disagree with me, consider the evidence.

    You believe in the rightness of honesty, don’t you? Most people do. “Honesty is the best policy” became a well-known phrase because people agree with it. We agree that it’s right to tell the truth, wrong to lie.

    Since character is a matter of doing what’s right, men and women of character choose honesty over dishonesty. General character demands that choice.

    Drilling down to more specific reasons, we find courage of convictions – standing firm on right principles no matter what personal sacrifice may be required. Honesty demands personal sacrifice. You may have to “lose face” to exercise honesty. You have to admit that you didn’t get your work done on time; took too much time shopping; or forgot an assignment. Humans don’t like personal sacrifice. We don’t like to lose face, but those who exercise the courage of their convictions will do so in order to choose honesty.

    Responsibility is another specific character trait that requires honesty. If you had a task to fulfill and you failed to do so, you would be irresponsible to lie. You’ll remember the Siamese twins: Responsibility and Accountability.

    Respect demands honesty, too. That person to whom you are about to give an answer has value. He or she is important enough to merit a clear statement of reality.

    I encourage you to consider the impact of other character traits as well.

  2. Michael J. Kerrigan March 21, 2010 at 10:08 am

    After visiting your site, I was impressed with the results of character centered leadership and am looking forward to thoughts on how such leadership can be developed.

    In the future, I would be greatly interested in your examination of why people are honest or dishonest. Most responses are either rooted in economic theory (models of rational and selfish behavior) psychological Motivation due to images of self concept) or moral. I need to study your site more thoroughly, thank you for your excellent work. MJK

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