Character in Career Success (Psalm 25:21)
In my Building-a-Winning-Career series of books, I recommend 20 strategies for success in any field of endeavor. When asked to identify the single-most important of these strategies, my answer is always the same no matter what career field the questioner is pursuing. The most important success strategy in any field of endeavor is integrity. In fact, integrity is more than just a success strategy. It is the outworking of your character; who you are at your very core. You cannot fake character. You can, however, build a solid career and a good life on it.
It is not uncommon to see people who lie, cheat, and claim undue credit quickly climb the career ladder. It is a sad fact that people who employ nefarious means to advance their careers often get away with their schemes, at least for a while. But, in the long run, building a career on a foundation of dishonesty and chicanery is a formula for disaster. People who take this route eventually trip over their own duplicity and see their careers come crashing down around them.
A key point made in my book, Christians on the Job: Building a Winning Career Without Compromising Your Faith, is that a career is a marathon not a sprint. Don’t become discouraged when it appears colleagues are pulling ahead of you on the career ladder by cheating, lying, and other underhanded methods. Think of the message in Psalm 25:21: “May integrity and uprightness preserve me.” People who employ nefarious means to climb the career ladder eventually trip and fall. When this happens, their descent into disgrace is often rapid and permanent.
In the long run, nothing will take you farther in your career than upright character. To climb the career ladder, you must become a leader among your colleagues and subordinates. An unfailing truth about leadership is this: If people don’t trust you, they won’t follow you. Here are some things you can do demonstrate upright character and, in turn, earn the trust of people you work with:
Never make promises you don’t intend to keep. If you say you will do something, do it.
Define being on time as being early.
Don’t just meet deadlines, exceed them.
Once you know the right thing to do, do it—even if it hurts.
Don’t just talk about honesty, exemplify it. Set an example of honesty for others.
Take the blame but share the credit.
Remember what you believe and live accordingly.
Remember who you are and be that person in every situation.
As you work to advance your career, never forget that pleasing God is even more important than pleasing your boss.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Veteran’s Lament: Is This the America We Fought For? and Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press.