My 8 year old granddaughter recently won the "Principal's Award" for having "good character". She received a certificate and was invited to a special breakfast held at the school for the award recipients. It was a great honor and we were all pleased that her kindness and compassion was being recognized. After all, healthy leaders possess good character.
Character matters if an organization wants be successful and thriving in their mission. When a leader's bad character is exposed, the organization is always affected. Integrity is the clean air that organizations need to breathe in order to stay alive. When corruption, manipulation, and unethical practices pollute the environment, it's hard to keep the organization healthy and strong. Eventually, a scandal will suffocate the future of the company and often it dies a very public death in the headlines. This is especially true for nonprofit organizations.
Leaders who possess good character hold more weight in the community. Other organizations are more willing to partner with companies that are led by people who are genuine and honest. Character is the currency of "trust".
A leader who possesses good character will also possess the trust of their team members. If the leader is known for having personal integrity, team members will follow more readily and will be willing to take risk and new direction as they are led. Team members can spot hypocrisy from a mile away. If a leader with poor character tries to correct a member of the team, their words will be ignored.
Character counts! Fight hard to remain intergritous and honest in your personal and professional practices. It will go a long way!
Todd Polyniak is a partner at SAX and is an expert in Not-For-Profit financial health for over 30 years.