Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lessons in manangement - Character vs. skill

Today, I am starting a new category on this blog entitled "Lessons in management."

I have been in the Social Work field for 41 years most of which I have worked as a direct service provider as well as a supervisor, Program Director, Deputy Director for Program Operations, and as an Executive Director. As a Social Worker I have an interest in and an appreciation of Microsystems and Macrosystems. There is a great deal of information and knowledge about working with mircrosystems and macrosystems which is readily available in trainings, degree programs, in books, on the Internet, etc. While there is a great deal of knowledge and information, it is increasingly difficult because of the proliferation of information to discern what really matters and how to bring the information into application. Under this category of "Lessons in management" I am hoping to share with you, the reader, what I have discovered really matters.

My first article will address the hiring or selection process.

Sometimes the hiring manager must choose between a person who is highly skilled but of questionable character and a person of exceptional character but not as highly skilled. Always choose the person with exceptional character. The reason is simply that a person of exceptional character can be taught skills and be provided knowledge, but the person highly skilled but of questionable character is much more difficult to transform into a decent person.

I would much rather hire decent people and train them than hire highly skilled people who are not decent.

Of course the ideal situation is highly skilled people who have exceptional character. They are such a blessing to work with. I have surrounded myself continually with such people but it often has taken me a few years to get such a team in place. When such a team "jells" it is a huge blessing and joy.

In my carrer I have been been richly blessed and sometimes been cursed. When I have been surrounded by people of poor character especially who have been in authority over me I have tried as best I could to bring a positive influence to bear, but often with demoralizing consequences. In those situations, I have resigned and moved on. Life is too short to be surrounded by people who are morally and ethically deficient. Unfortunately, charming psychopaths, have knack for climbing the career ladder and ascending to high places where they have garnered the power, prestige, obeisance of people they can manipulate. It is best to separate yourself from such people and such organizations which they supervise and lead even if it means a cut on pay and position.

Virtue is more important than high organizational status. Good managers know this and act accordingly especially in human service organizations where the well being of clients/patients is in the hands of professionals providing services.

This is article #1 in a series on Lessons in management.

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