Rule #11 from my Rules of Attraction: Who we are is more important that what we do.

Last week we looked some of the intangible traits that define “who we are” or “who our company is.” We said the most critical are: Integrity, Vision, Enthusiasm, Selflessness and Identity. We spent some time examining the importance of genuine “Enthusiasm” and how it affects how we are perceived. Another trait that exemplifies who we are is “integrity.”

It has been said that our “character” is displayed by what we do when no one is looking. I believe that character is; “who we are – defined.” It is the values that we adhere to. Similarly the concept of “character” extends beyond a trait that defines a person’s temperament or disposition. What does character have to do with marketing, you may ask? I believe in this new era, character or “who we are” is more important than ever before in the marketing arena. In fact I would submit that character is far more important than what we actually do or say about our company, product or service. It is the evidence of our most persuasive claims. Who can deny that all types of products and services are becoming more homogeneous? Differentiating oneself is getting more and more difficult. Competition in every industry and profession is accelerating daily. Therefore “character” in many cases may be the deciding factor in attracting better clients, more committed team members and healthier relationships.

Integrity is at the core of our character or who we are. When we think of someone as having “integrity” we tend to think of them as being honest, loyal, fair-minded, trustworthy and respectful. Having integrity means that you do what you say you’re going to do, you try to do the RIGHT thing and you do it consistently.

When we think of the greatest military leaders of all time, we think of Patton, Eisenhower, and MacArthur. The name George C. Marshall has faded into the mist. Marshall, however, was the leader that made it possible for these men to dominate the history books. The fact is that Marshall was their boss! He was the Chief of Staff of the United States Armed Forces during World War II. He forfeited his chance to go down in history as the hero of the war and ultimately position himself as an almost certain a shoe-in for the White House top job. 

In late 1943, at the height of World War II, Marshall had convinced both President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill that the best way to turn the tide of the war was to plan a cross-channel attack on Germany via France. The only question was… Who would lead the operation? Roosevelt knew that Marshall wanted to be the commander of the D-Day invasion. It would virtually guarantee Marshall’s place in history. Yet just as Roosevelt knew that Marshall deserved this honor, he also was aware that the man was so humble he would never ask for the job. The President’s problem was that he felt that Marshall was more greatly needed as the high commander of the entire war effort than he was as leader of the D-Day invasion.

So what did the President do? Like any good politician he hedged his bet. He sent a message to Marshall telling him that if the general wanted the position then he just needed to ask for it. What was Marshall’s reply? He sent a one line message back to Roosevelt saying:

“I will serve wherever you order me, Mr. President.”

In the end, the Normandy invasion, a virtual guarantee of glory, slipped from the hands of Marshall into those of Eisenhower who used it to make his successful play for the Presidency. Marshall demonstrated his integrity by having the courage and conviction to make the “right decision” for the country. Marshall knew that in fact he WAS more greatly needed in the role of overseer for the entire war effort than he was as D-Day invasion commander. Later when asked why he made such a decision, he told the media, “The issue was just too great for personal feelings to be considered.”

This is the kind of integrity that creates attraction. While many of today’s business leaders are shifting blame, slamming competitors and whining about fair treatment, those with integrity are willing to tell the truth, make sacrifices, do the right thing and do it consistently. Imagine the reputation your company can build in a marketplace hungry for products, services, companies and people with integrity.

Posted in Corporate Culture, Uncategorized.

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