Character: Cornerstone of Win/Win Success in Business

Steven Covey in his 1990 bestseller “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” devotes a number of pages of his book to discussing the 5 Dimensions of Win/Win. His premise is that thinking Win/Win is the habit of interpersonal leadership. This is a key point in that many of us are small business owners or sole proprietors and do not have the luxury of delegating the Win/Win of our business to someone else. We need to be sure we can master the Win/Win philosophy or we will not be able to enjoy the success we aspire to.

These dimensions include: Character, Relationships, Agreements, Supportive Systems and Process. Thinking Win/Win begins with character and this will be the focus of this article and I will leave you to get the book and read about the remaining four dimensions. Why is character of interest to me? It is what I can control or influence the most. It is the foundation and cornerstone of Win/Win.

Covey defines character as having three traits essential to a Win/Win paradigm. These are Integrity, Maturity and what he calls Abundance Mentality (there is plenty for everyone). We know these traits and often recognize them in others that we find are easy to work with, are trustworthy and provide a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when a project is completed – Win/Win.

A penetrating question is do they have the same feeling toward us? How do we score ourselves in the fundamental character traits for Win/Win.

Character Traits

Integrity: Integrity is the value we place on ourselves. A primary measure of integrity is how good are we at honoring promises and commitments not only to ourselves but also to others? Is this trait important to you? Do you find it easy to work with someone who cannot fulfill what they have promised others? Do you find it easier to work with someone who you know will go the extra mile to make sure they deliver and support you?

Maturity: Maturity covers a lot of ground but deals with our ability to express our feelings and convictions with consideration for the feelings and convictions of others. We often find ourselves in urgent (confrontive) situations where it is necessary to communicate a difficult subject and we have choices in how we accomplish it. Are we overbearing and inconsiderate in our goal of completing the task or do we address the feelings of the other person and help them see our point of view. How do we react when we are taken to task on a matter and the other person tramples all over our feelings and convictions? Are we motivated to work toward a winning relationship? Are we more motivated by someone dealing with confrontation emotionally or in a mature manner that balances nice and tough? Do you deal with others in this type of circumstance as adults or as children?

Abundance Mentality: How do we share credit or recognition, power or profit? We all know what it is like to work with someone who “steals” the credit or “grabs” the power in order to make them look good. These people tend to be insecure and have low personal wealth. On the other hand people who have high self worth and security tend to be very interested in the welfare of those around them. It is much easier to work with someone that is not always looking for ways to make them look good and willing to share the credit and recognition with you and others.

Character is the cornerstone of the 5 dimensions of Win/Win. Some of us come by the three traits of character naturally. Others of us need to consistently work at it to overcome negative behavior.

So . . . how did you score yourself? What are you going to work on? If you are not sure of how you are really doing seek out a mentor (someone with integrity, maturity and an abundance mentality) who can offer you perspective on your character. You may this difficult and tough to do to be transparent and vulnerable but it is better getting feedback from someone you trust than through lost business or lost accounts. Seek out those in your workplace that seem to have the Win/Win profile and go to school on them on how they develop their positive character work traits. You might be surprised at how hard they work at it.

Remember Win/Win begins with your character!

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