What Defines Good Organizational Character?

A good leader is concerned for the health of his subordinates.

There are many ways that good character is manifested, but it is often much easier to observe examples of bad character. In today's world, character can be tough to to see in the personality-driven social world or even the strict ceremony of religious contexts (such as regular church attenders). In an organizational context, however, it is very easy to see an individual's character, especially if the members of that organization spend a great deal of time together. Predictably, the members of a stratified organization that have the best insight into an individual's character are those whom that person is in charge of and possibly their immediate supervisor, not those two echelons or more above them.

Good organizational character means having true concern for the well being of your subordinates. Fortunately, most organizations are designed so that a self-centered individual (referred to in the Army as a "spotlight Ranger") will still not be able to completely fail their subordinates. This is because the selfish leader will do everything necessary to impress their boss or commander, and some of this will naturally spill over to benefit their subordinates. It can often be very difficult to distinguish the character of these "spotlight Rangers" from quality individuals. The litmus test, however, is to observe how the individual in question reacts when more than the bare minimum is asked of them. Irrational or explosive anger is a key signal that this particular individual is half-stepping and operating on a minimum amount of effort.

The entire outlook of a servant with good character is completely different than the lazy, self-centered leader. This individual searches for additional information to protect their subordinates or employees from the hazards of the workplace or operating environment. The person with good character will also devote themselves to the development of their career skills in an effort to be able to perform their job function with a maximum of precision, skill, and speed.

Thew final evaluation of the good character of an individual requires the utilization of the motor metaphor. Every organization is like a gigantic engine; each person within that machine has a specific function. An individual with good character will recognize their role within that engine and will reduce friction by making things run smoothly in his functional area (and may consequently never be noticed). Those with bad character delight in making a mess and frustrating or infuriating their peers in order to capitalize off of the chaos and make themselves look good.


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