Does Character Matter in Business?

What is your Ethos, character?  Does it affect how you run your business?

Ethos is defined as:-

The distinctive character, spirit and attitudes of a people, culture etc.

In business we talk a lot about having a passion, a vision and a business plan.  We seldom mention character.  Walter Wright (author of “Relational Leadership”) says “People of character become leaders, whether they hold a position of leadership or not!”.

As leaders and business women, our business reflects our personality or character and that is what clients buy.

Personally, I will always favour buying from some-one I know has integrity, is trust-worthy and listens or what I need/want.  How about you?

Dictionary Definitions

Personality:  the sum total of all the behavioural and mental characteristics by means of which an individual is recognised as being unique.

Character: the combination of traits and qualities distinguishing the individual nature of a person or thing.

“Personality is given.  Character is formed.”

When I am making a large purchase I always consider John Lewis first.  Why?  Because I know that they have a good ethos and as a customer I will receive good customer care before, during and after the sale.

What makes John Lewis different?

John Lewis have a specific ethos going back to its founder. A big part of this ethos is that the people who work there share in the profits. They aren’t known as staff, but as partners. The company is not run to make profits for anonymous shareholders who expect much but put nothing in other than some cash. The people who make the company what it is and who help create the success are the ones sharing any profits.

Here is a quote from the John Lewis website:-

“The John Lewis Partnership’s 69,000 Partners own the leading UK retail businesses – Waitrose, John Lewis and Greenbee. Our founder’s vision of a successful business powered by its people and its principles defines our unique company today. The profits and benefits created by our success are shared by all our Partners.”

What is your ethos and do your customers know what it is?

Author of “Courageous Leadership”, Bill Hybels describes character quite simply; “it is who you are when no-one else is looking”.  This is more than just the image we present to people.  Being authentic in our personal and business lives is essential if we are to succeed.

James Lawrence in his book “Growing Leaders” says character reveals itself in three ways:-

  1. In the small things

How we treat people on a day to day basis; particularly how we treat those we don’t want anything from or for whom we have no responsibility.

I find this helpful to remember when I am networking.  I am personally “put off” by other business people who pressurise me to buy from them and when I don’t, move on quickly to some one else, rather than build rapport and relationship.

  1. When under pressure

‘One of those days’ reveals our character.  On good days it is easy to keep the mask in place, how do we respond when we are under pressure, there is too much to do, when we make a mistake and have to decide whether to own up or not or when the person we find most difficult to get on with asks for something beyond our normal parameters?

Often this is when the mask slips and the real person surfaces.  That’s part of our character, and it isn’t always very nice.

  1. When in private

The measure of a person’s real character is what they would do if they knew they’d never be found out.  When no-one else is around, when we can “get away with it” – what are we really like?

Can a Leopard change it’s spots?

I think so.  I believe we can develop our character if we choose to.  I am currently asking myself “What is the next step in the development of my character?”

I was looking at the Character Council website to help me decide which part of my character I wanted to develop at this time.  I chose the character quality – “endurance”.  Which in action terms is described as:- Endurance is the inward strength to withstand stress and do my best.


  • Not be a “quitter”
  • Accept both instruction and correction
  • Not waste my time, energy and talent on meaningless pursuits
  • Bend instead of break
  • Put my whole heart into everything I do.


We all have difference motivators, however, if we know we will benefit from changing and developing our character this will motivate us.  Here are just a few benefits you can expect to receive:-

  • It helps you reach your full potential – we are all in the same room – “the room for improvement”.
  • It can increase productivity and accomplishments.
  • You will see an improvement in your relationships.  Change starts with us. Leo Tolstoy (the Russian writer) says “everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing themselves.”
  • Developing your character can contribute to success.

It helps to regularly practice the actions. You can change unhelpful habits and develop helpful habit patterns of the character quality.

Being accountable

Who will I invite to hold me accountable and encourage me to fulfil my commitments?

You could invite one or more persons to encourage you in developing your particular character qualities.  My suggestion would be to choose a person you think has that particular quality you are developing, it maybe a different person for each quality.  If the characteristic is specifically related to business – then I would encourage you to choose a business coach.

In Summary

I believe we not only have to work “on” the business to succeed, we also need to work on our character and ethos too.

What I am not saying, however, is that any of us are perfect!  It is easy to stay in our comfort zones, get stuck and stagnate – if we do, so will our business.  I also think in this current climate clients are looking for “quality” and I myself want to run my business with not only passion but integrity and authenticity and have a good working ethos.

How about you?

Denise Dale

Denise Dale has worked in the Image Industry for 18 years and specialises in helping people create a personal impact whilst saving money. Denise offers bespoke packages to help you with your personal branding and advice on how to build a capsule wardrobe that matches your budget and life-style. Denise also helps people discover their purpose & how to make their dreams a reality. This means that they can live lives they are proud to own. Denise has been a guest on Premier Radio’s Woman to Woman and was live on air for Kate and William’s wedding in April. She has been a Personal Shopper at Debenhams, and as a specialist consultant in Colour and Style to the Burtons Group. She is a teacher at Kingston and Havering Colleges on Colour & Style. Denise works with a number of professional people, working mums, teenagers and young people. She is also a Nutrimetics Consultant and offers wedding make-up and wedding planning services. //

Be the change that you want to see. Step into your leadership.