I travel across the country consulting organizations to make them better, stronger, and more efficient. Each share their narrative on what they believe is decelerating their growth. This includes but certainly isn’t limited to diversity in hiring, an outdated brand, and a lack of capacity. My team can and does fix all these issues, but I find that these issues aren’t the center of the problem.
One might say Uber has a public relations problem, or Capital Hill has a leadership challenge—both are totally accurate, but don’t represent the truth and nothing but the truth. There is a simple reality that we face in every sector, every institution, and every governmental agency in the world. It is the one challenge that embroils small businesses and Fortune 500s alike—it’s a lack of character.
It’s easy to overlook character. Why? We don’t talk about it anymore. We don’t talk about the need for universal moral qualities, in fear that we will offend someone. In our hiring approach, we don’t want to know what a person believes; we want to know what they know and whom they know. This starts the pipeline of disaster, which shapes company culture and misaligns the character of organizations.
Now before you go rethink everyone you’ve ever hired or go fire your Director of Human Resources, pause. The truth is, character starts at the top and trickles down. Character is just like how Michelle or Ivanka said it—depending on your perspective. “Your word is your bond.” Character, as a concept, is easy. Character in practice, is a moving target. It’s something we refuse to address. In writing this, I started a period of introspection. I started thinking of the small things daily that chip away at my character—like saying I would meet a deadline or responding to an email. I started wondering what the end-user thought of me. How my “white lie” may shape how they interact with me. Even more so, I started wondering what my people thought of me. Did they think I was a man of my word? Even more frightening, did they start adopting my ways?
The truth—we know we have a character issue, but addressing it is a horse of another color. Addressing it means challenging the image we have of ourselves, which challenges what we believe people think about us. Sadly, in the age of social media and information, a blemish just isn’t acceptable. Imagine if people found out we were human? Congress might get something done and lord only knows what happens then.
Here is some simple advice that I am taking on this character recovery journey. Next time you diagnose your organization’s problem, take a page from Michael Jackson. Look at the man in the mirror; ask him to change his ways. Then, and only then, can you address the greatest problem facing your organization.
About Corey Briscoe
Corey Briscoe is a thought leader who transcends industries. Briscoe is the Managing Partner for Internal Operations and Talent Acquisition. He oversees daily operations and human capital strategy. Known as “the company culture guy,” Briscoe specializes in molding leaders and uniting people around common goals. His ability to drive strategic agendas has privileged him to work with leaders across various sectors.