Character Counts

Mac McCormickUncategorized

Character Counts

by Amber Kossak

One of the big surprises of the pandemic this past 18 months has been the staffing issues we have all had to deal with. Filling vacancies at any level can be time-consuming. When filling a management role, it’s even more important to get the right people in place. You certainly want people who are capable and equally important is character, the subject of this month’s column.

Some might say character is an intangible that you can’t really measure. If you break it down, however, you’ll see that character has many observable tell-tale signs that reveal our inner qualities.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of qualities that you will frequently find in notable either employees and or our next most valuable today – vendor partners.


Alert people are tuned in to things going on around them and not simply what is going on in their own heads. People who are alert are aware of dangers and opportunities. They have the ability to stay focused on a task while not being oblivious to everything else happening around them.


The opposite of empathy is indifference. Empathic people identify with others’ emotions and know how to gauge what they are feeling. This is essentially an intuitive trait. You want employees who are empathic toward customers and vendor partners who are empathic toward you and your team. They read people well, both their motivations and intentions. Empathy is where the idea of walking a mile in another’s shoes comes from.


The opposite of decisiveness is wishy-washy. Decisive people are confident decision-makers. Once they have settled on a course of action they stick with it. They tend to be more comfortable with risk. They understand that risk and uncertainty are part of the game and when called upon to make a decision, leaders take action.


Responsibility means being accountable for one’s actions. Responsible people know the rules and what is appropriate both in and out of the workplace. Responsible people know what needs to be done and usually do not need supervision or guidance. You will find them to be trustworthy, keeping their word and honoring their commitments. Equally important, they don’t make excuses or blame others for their own failings. They learned early on that even when the dog eats their homework, it was their own fault for leaving it where the dog could get it.


This is another small but mighty facet of responsibility. It is one of the ways we show respect for others’ time by managing our own.


The dictionary defines integrity as “the quality of being honest or having strong moral principles.” It’s one of the most important qualities in the workplace or the home. It’s the opposite of hypocrisy. People trust those with integrity and prefer to deal with them, as my father always says “even bad men want to do business with good men”. Integrity is a quality we should all embrace.


Many of these concepts are interconnected. Confidence intersects with decisiveness and courage. Confidence is related to self-assurance regarding one’s abilities, though unwarranted overconfidence (pride) can be a flaw. It’s more than useful to find a balance between confidence and the humility that keeps us teachable.

Final Thoughts

I began this column by discussing the staffing issues many companies are facing right now.  No matter if you are trying to keep the right people, hire the right people, or find the best vendor partner remember character counts. If you get the right people with the right attitudes, I’m confident your future will remain profitable.