Know the Six Pillars: Here is How Mentorships Helps in Building Character

Published on
February 12, 2015

There is no arguing that to be a good leader, you need to have good character. But it's tricky enough to build your character; how do you create another person's character—say, a mentee who depends on you to show them how to succeed in their career? According to the Joseph Institute of Ethics study, there are Six Pillars of Character to strive for, and while some of them might be inherent in an individual, all of them can also be taught, just like any other skill. To teach the qualities of good character, you need to make sure you understand them yourself. So what are the six pillars of character, and what exactly do they mean in a business setting?

Trustworthiness: It can be argued that trustworthiness is the single most important quality of good character. Without trust, you cannot build lasting relationships, compel others to buy your product or service, or win others over to your cause. Trust is integrity, and it is essential to every business relationship.

Respect: Respect is having a sense of another person's place in the group, the organization, and the world. It means giving your regard and consideration to another for the work that they do.

Responsibility: Responsibility is about taking ownership, both of the work you do as well as the mistakes you make. It means taking action and not backing down from taking risks or seizing opportunities.  

Fairness: Give everyone equal treatment. Avoid favoritism and give everyone a chance to show their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.

Caring: Have empathy for those around you. It understands that the needs of your clients and co-workers are essential and relevant and that you can make a difference in their lives through your work.

Citizenship: Citizenship describes an individual's character as a member of society—your behavior in terms of duties, obligations, and functions. In the workplace, this means being an active participant in the organization's goals and doing your part to ensure that your contributions serve the well-being of the entire company.

Once you have a firm handle on the pillars of good character, you can incorporate a few character-building activities into your mentorships. Some examples might be:

  • They are making the character a primary topic of conversation. Pick topics to discuss, like how one's personality affects their work, interaction with others, and goal-setting.
  • They are developing leadership profiles that evaluate character so that mentees can get an idea of where they are and what qualities they may need to create.
  • They review the company's values and ask the mentee to explain what these values mean to them and incorporate them into their work. It is imperative that you demonstrate these same values in your work to show that they are taken seriously by management.
  • They promote self-awareness by regularly asking the mentee to evaluate their habits and behaviors and discuss their meaning.

Character is not separate from, but rather central to, how we work and interact with others. A strong leader needs a strong personality, and the earlier your mentees learn the qualities of good character, the better chance they'll have at becoming competent and respected mentors in their fields. If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. Our vision is to create a mentoring planet where true equality is achieved, and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.

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