VOL. 128 | NO. 196 | Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Moral Character Wins in Business, Life
By Verne Harnish and Michael Synk
Verne Harnish & Michael Synk
Companies that build teams with strong moral character win. Their teams are happier, perform better and are more successful overall.
This bold claim stems from Jim Loehr, author of the book “The Only Way to Win.” His research, based on his work with 16 world class and “corporate athletes,” shows that the satisfaction we get from achieving extrinsic accomplishments is shallow and fleeting.
What gives us long lasting fulfillment is practicing integrity, generosity, gratefulness, humility, optimism, and compassion in the pursuit of your goals.
Loehr founded a junior tennis academy at his Human Performance Institute. On their first day, the students hear: “We care about your tennis but care more about who you become because of tennis. We want you to win with character.” Working from a list of moral strengths, all 15 students going through the program are currently nationally ranked.
It works in business, as well. Jay Steinfeld, founder and CEO of Blinds.com, reached a turning point. “My future really began to take shape only when I began to define my success as being in the act of continuous improvement and improving the lives of others around me.”
Realizing that he was “an overly burdensome micromanager, always finding fault in others,” he focused on identifying and recognizing the successes of his team. As he became more empathetic, his team relaxed – and performed better.
As the company has grown successful – it is now the world’s largest online retailer for window blinds and shades – Steinfeld helps his team stay true to its humble beginnings. He personally brings new recruits to a run-down alleyway in Houston where he had its first office back in 1996 and he shares the history and core values of the company.
“This way, we keep our humble history fresh while reinforcing our core value – ‘help people achieve what they never thought they could.’”
Boston Centerless, a manufacturer of ground bars and grinding services, recently completed its first eight-month leadership program where character building was the focus. One of the key practices taught in the program is journaling.
Try this: every night write down three things that went well that day and why they went well. This helps you identify personal patterns of success and highlights how character strengths make good things happen in business and in life.
Andre Agassi writes down his goals every morning and how he will achieve them that day, which he credits for bringing him back to No. 1. “After putting them on paper, saying them out a loud, I also say aloud: ‘No shortcuts.’”
Agassi’s reinvention of himself – from an obnoxious player who hated his fame and wealth – to “the compassionate, generous, thoughtful and humble person he is today,” shows how moral character development ultimately supports performance. When he focused on improving himself, he came back as No. 1 and was happier.
As a leader, consider how you use your company as a vehicle for building your own character strengths and your team’s. The results will likely astound you.
Verne Harnish is the founder of Gazelles. Michael Synk is the founder of In-Synk and is the Gazelles Coach in Memphis. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.