Organization & Leadership Consulting

“Character” Defined: What does it mean for the workplace?

a weathered sign with three planks points in three directions in a desert
Character defined can help you work toward a healthy work culture.

What is “sound character”? It is the combined attributes of a person that prove solid and unshakable during difficult and disorienting challenges. We each think differently, and we believe different things. But there are commonalities that tend to produce an honorable person, a person with sound character. (There are also people with “unsound” character.) As ancient coins were stamped with an image of some sort, each of us is stamped with attributes that at one time were external to us. Those attributes became a part of us through time, circumstances, and aggregated decisions.  Let’s explore some of these commonalities and how they contribute to the overall health of your workplace.  


Integrity often defines people described as having character. These people have strong moral values based on external realities, and they adhere to them. These are people who are incorruptible, and are worthy of trust. That incorruptibility is rooted in self-evident principles that bear up across cultures, time, and generations. Integrity is deeper and more fundamental than authenticity (see below). Ultimately, integrity is a quality that defines a person with strong character.

How does this attribute translate to your healthy workplace culture? The character of a person often determines how they will behave and interact with others in a work environment. Those with integrity will stand up for what is right and overall be an asset to your community and its reputation. They typically complete their work tasks to the best of their ability, and they treat their peers as valuable. Integrity is a trait you cultivate and encourage within your employees as a means to achieving a healthy and successful workplace culture. Integrity is character defined. 


As we continue to explore character defined, another trait of those who exhibit meaningful character is honesty. Honesty goes beyond simply telling the truth. Honesty is a deep, core-level trait that defines true character in an individual. People who are honest are trustworthy in all they do, including in their profession. 

How can this characteristic contribute to your healthy workplace culture? Honest people are often self-aware. This self-awareness adds to growth within your team. Honest people, because they tend to be seekers of truth, are usually willing to work through problems that may seem difficult for others. When cultivating a healthy workplace culture, encourage an honesty that is delivered with respect. Without respect, whatever is communicated with honesty can easily be received as demeaning. Respectful honesty really is an integral part of character defined. 


Authentic people consistently stay true to themselves and what they say about what they believe. The challenge is to align one’s authenticity with sound principles. People who are thusly authentic often cut through the noise around them to get to the truth. Authenticity is a core character trait that leaves behind the unnecessary. This is a good character quality when that authenticity is oriented toward the well-being of others. There are also authentic people whose actions are true to what they believe but those beliefs can be harmful and even traumatic to others. 

Assuming the best intentions, how can this character trait add to your healthy workplace culture? There is no guessing with truly authentic people. You can always be certain of where you stand. People who value authenticity are often able to grow and connect with others on a deeper heart level than those who seem to have something to hide. Authentic people also tend to be honest and trustworthy, which positively influences your workplace culture. An added bonus for authenticity in the workplace is that these people often recognize and address issues as they arise. When seeking to build character among your team, principle-based authenticity is a worthy goal. (See Steven Covey’s book, Principle-Centered Leadership.)

As a leader seeking to build a successful team, encourage your team members to lean into the ongoing development of their own character. You can each leverage your team’s unique and maturing qualities for the betterment of your whole culture.

Suggested Resource How to integrate encouragement into your leadership.

TurningWest is here to help you develop the character already in your team members to its fullest potential. TurningWest is your guide to a healthy culture with meaningful results.


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