I’ve had some great questions about how to distinguish character, integrity and values.

Values are simply what we consider important.  We do what we value. We are all value driven. The question is whether or not our values are good ones or bad ones.

Integrity is one of the core positive character qualities.  The word integrity comes from the Latin word ‘integritas’, meaning wholeness, coherence, rightness, or purity. Integrity has been defined as consistency between word and deed or “the perceived degree of congruence between the values expressed by words and those expressed through action.”1

Character originates from the Greek word charassein, which means to scratch or engrave.
Referring to a person’s character is a way of recognizing that person’s idiosyncratic attributes
or features.  Character can be good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.

Definitions of character vary. Hillman defines character as an “invisible source of personal
consistency” and “deep structures of personality that are particularly resistant to change.2
Other definitions differ: from explaining character as an individual set of attributes that deal
with “doing the right thing despite outside pressure to the contrary,”3

Fundamentally good character is the positive, healthy internal habits that you develop that results in ultimate, authentic success. Good habits = success. Bad habits = failure.

The character crisis we are having now is based on the reality that we have lost the straight lines needed to form healthy habits that become our foundational character.

Things to read…

1. Woden, S. (2003). The role of integrity as a mediator in strategic leadership: a recipe for reputational capital. Journal of Business Ethics, 46(1), 31., op cit.

2. Spears, L.C. (2000). On character and servant-leadership: ten characteristics of effective, caring leaders.  Concepts & Connections, 8(3).

3, Barlowe, C.B., Jordan, M. and Hendrix, W.H. (2003).  Character assessment: an examination of leadership levels. Journal of Business and Psychology, 17 (4), 563-584.

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Michael Josephson, president of the Josephson Institute for Advancement of Ethics states:

What we will achieve as executives and leaders will be shaped far more by the
collection of dispositions, habits and attitudes that make up our character than by
our education or skills . . .  the destiny of individuals is determined by personal
character, the destiny of an organization is determined by the character of its

Agree? Disagree? Examples?

I’m grappling with the role of character in our worldwide culture? How much of our successes and failures personally and professionally come from our character?

“Within the character of the citizen,” Cicero said, “lies the welfare of the nation.”

What think ye?

I like this quotation from Dr. Jeff Owens on character and money.

“Please answer the following questions: Would you rather have a $10,000 salary increase or the character to live on what you currently earn? Or possibly, would you like to develop the character to live on $10,000 less than what you currently earn? We seem to think the answer to our problem is to make more money. I wonder if the answer to our problem would be to develop more character.”

What do you think?  Why?