Character and Competency Go Together

Steven Covey once said, “Character is what we are; competence is what we can do. The reality is that character and competence drive everything else in the organization.”

How is your team in your business or organization aligned for success? Do you have two key components that drive success? I have known many companies who have some very competent people but are lacking in some key character traits. I have also known some high-character people who are not competent in their job – mostly because they are not the right fit. What happens when your highly competent salesperson continually misleads prospects just to get the sale (we call it over-promising and under-delivering)? What happens when the virtuous production manager – who loves making systems function perfectly – gets promoted to the Vice President of Operations position dealing with non-tangible leadership challenges?

More often than not, businesses and organizations that don’t foster both character development and competency find themselves falling behind their competition in market share, reputation, employee retention, and profit. Wait a minute. Character development? Isn’t that something an employee should do on their own time? Shouldn’t they know this already? Not necessarily.

We live in a different culture, a different time. Virtues like patience, hard work, and resourcefulness are not taught at home as they once were. Schools attempt to teach it, but without a child seeing these virtues lived out in the home, they are simply words they learn without any real attachment to application. Our pop culture (movies, TV shows, and music) certainly does not teach these character traits – in fact, just the opposite. What we end up with is a work force who may struggle with the concept of not stealing from the company. How many potentially productive hours are lost due to an employee dealing with personal emails, Facebooking, Tweeting, texting, and so on? Do they see these activities as “stealing” from the company? Unfortunately, companies are having to do more training regarding character because it’s just not there.

Competency is much easier to train and develop. There are many classes, books, and seminars to help your team get better at just about anything you need them to do. As the team gets better, the organization gets more effective as well. Up to a point.

Just as character is what people are, the collective character of the employees of an organization make what that organization is. If an organization’s “character” is bad, even the best product won’t make up for it. Truly successful companies are great at developing their people in both character and competency. Are you one of them?

Where are you seeing a gap between character and competency? What are you finding to be effective in dealing with this issue?

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