The Three Measures of Character in the Workplace

Everyone has their own character. It's the sum of our attitude (our own personal pattern of emotions and actions), our beliefs (our opinions, judgments and acceptance of what is true), and our commitments (how we choose to act). Our character affects our first impression with others and defines how our peers, subordinates or bosses at work view us.

If you believe you are someone who makes things happen at work, what does that look like? In a work world, where changes are happening faster and decisions require a greater sense of urgency, what does it mean to have the right attitude? People with the right attitude are individuals who work hard. They do not blame others but instead they focus on results. They are decisive, assertive and very self disciplined. People with poor attitudes live at the other end of the continuum and are typically not very proactive. Instead, they blame others, wait for direction, waste time and energy and often lack focus and discipline.

Individuals don't simply become good at making things happen. Making things happen is closely related to a healthy and accurate self concept based on personal awareness. People who make things happen are fully aware of their unique strengths as well as areas requiring development. An accurate self image means knowing your strengths and weaknesses and being open to accepting feedback. 

Accepting feedback is one way to become a more effective communicator. You'll be more willing to take a long-range point of view. Being open to feedback and new ideas also allows you to positively influence the people around you. On the other hand, failing to be self aware leads to a lack of confidence, an unwillingness to open up, and becoming defensive when given feedback. Those who lack self awareness often misjudge interactions with others and frequently lock their thinking onto the first short-term solution they identify.

While the ability to make things happen and be self aware are key to developing a good attitude, another piece to the success puzzle is required - optimism! People who are optimistic tend to directly confront issues. They possess a can-do attitude and can more effectively overcome areas of weakness. By being hopeful and open minded, optimistic people move forward at times when many others are paralyzed. People without optimism get discouraged easily and often avoid facing difficulties. Instead, they become overwhelmed by their weaknesses and, rather than moving through difficulties, display a negative attitude towards everything and everyone around them.

There are many people in our work world who make things happen and who are very self aware; however, they are not optimistic. At the same time, there are many people who are optimistic and self aware yet fail to make things happen. In today's fast-paced work environments, individuals must have a positive, open and reflective mindset coupled with a can-do work ethic.

I believe the goal for any employee is to strive towards maximizing all three areas of attitude, beliefs and commitment. When the three areas of are balanced, you will become recognized as someone who can be trusted to get the job done - someone who does not complain but instead shows a positive outlook.

After all, who doesn't want to be known as the "go to" person at their place of work, and who doesn't want to be viewed as the employee with a great attitude and with a strong, positive character? Anyone and everyone can become that trusted employee by identifying and developing their character competencies.

There are tools today that can help you to measure your character competencies. There are also resources, such as executive coaches, that can assist you in growing and developing into a strong contributor - both individually and in a team environment. As part of your Christmas or a New Year's resolution, give yourself the gift of engaging with an executive coach. Put yourself on a path to greater success by working with your coach to identify your character competencies and developing a career plan for 2013.

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